Beat People

Staceyann Chin tells it like it is, Little X sees the big picture, Marinna Taitt makes an online home for Caribbean arts, and two Guyanese boxers win world title glory

  • "Vivacious" Vivian Harris shows off his championship belt. Courtesy Staboek News

Telling furious secrets

When Staceyann Chin commands a mike, she unleashes an arsenal of painful self-portraits and cut-throat metaphors so honest they slam. Performing in Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam on Broadway (which opened in November 2002) is a distant shot from her former life as a science teacher in Jamaica. “When I came to America . . . my energy was tied up in the whole homosexual issue,” recalls the 30-year-old performance poet. Five years ago she discovered New York’s Nuyorican CafŽ, an empowering platform for sharing the heartfelt issues she deliberates. When you witness Chin articulating her furor, you instantly discern how she earned her “warrior woman” reputation on the slam poetry circuit. “I’ve carried these secrets for too long,” she says.

Sean Drakes

Big vibes from Little X

“If you focus on the art you love, everything else will fall into place. I am no genius and I don’t think I’m gonna influence art on the whole, but I’m gonna focus on the talent I have, and try to build that to the fullest extent.” Good advice from 27-year-old Julien Lutz, aka hot young hip-hop video director Little X. A Canadian native with Trinidadian roots, Little X worked for five years under hip-hop video godfather Hype Williams. Now he’s sought out by artists like Alicia Keys, Nelly, and Jay-Z. Little X seems to know exactly what appeals to hip-hop consumers, smoothly complementing each performer’s style. The role is cast: Little X, rising star.

Tracey-Anne Gill

Making a home for the arts

Born and bred in Guyana, Marina Taitt has lived and worked in Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad: a truly pan-Caribbean woman. After years of involvement in theatre and the arts, she recognised the need for a freer exchange of ideas among artists of the region; thus CaribArts was born. Collaborating with Jamaican writer Ingrid Riley, Taitt launched a monthly e-mail newsletter in 2002, combining news with artist profiles and literary works. Her ultimate goal is a Web archive of Caribbean culture „ “an online home for the arts.” But via her newsletter she’s already helping to weave the Caribbean’s far-flung artistic communities into a vibrant whole.

Philip Sander

Two world titles in eight days

Growing up in Plaisance, a village in Guyana’s interior, Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite dreamed of returning home with a championship belt across his shoulder. On October 11, 2002, Braithwaite succeeded where many before have failed. All doubts about his potential were put to rest in a tough contest against Vincenzo Cantatore for the vacant world cruiserweight title. A powerful southpaw, weighing close to 190 pounds, Braithwaite demonstrated awesome physical control. But the standout features of his impressive victory were his tough mental resilience in the face of difficult ringside circumstances, and the huge knock-out punch that floored his opponent in the tenth round.

Decking a world champion is no mean feat; doing it in the second round, in front of a hostile foreign crowd, is an even greater accomplishment. On October 19, 2002, 24-year-old “Vicious” Vivian Harris did just that, snatching the WBA super lightweight title from Diosbelys Hurtardo, becoming the youngest Guyanese ever to claim a world boxing title. Now boxing commentators call Harris a major threat to junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu. With impressive stone-fist credentials, including 22 pro fight victories, and a spot among the top 10 super-lights in the world, it shouldn’t be long before Harris makes good on that threat.

Dylan Kerrigan