Q: First tell us something about yourself?
A) My name is Judith Shaw. I am a mother to two young men, Rashidi and Nathaniel, who are my motivators. I am married to a supportive partner Gary Kohut. I am a visiting home Registered Practical Nurse (RPN). I find solace in reading and writing poetry. I am a daydreamer. It was through daydreaming I was able to create my platform Black Coco Brown to celebrate my Culture, my Blackness and the Arts within my Culture. I also perform and organizes poetry events.
Q: How and when did your journey start as a writer?
A) I started my writing journey just before the COVID pandemic. I started a blog, but I found it challenging to find a niche. So one day as I was sitting at my computer staring at the blank screen for hours and with great frustration, this poem appeared “When I was a Child”.
Q: When did you write your first story? Is it published or not?
A) I wrote my first story in the spring of 2022.
Yes my first story has been published with direction and assistance from Tellwell
Q: Tell us something more about your book?
A) My book is called “My Grandmother Said, Art Is Everywhere”
It is a children’s book that arrived from a poem I had written titled “ Mi Neva Noo Art Deh A Yard All Dis Time”. Translation: “ I Did Not Know Art Was At Home (Jamaica) All Along). When I was a child growing up in Kingston Jamaica I thought art was when individuals have the abilities to draw and paint and dance and sing but as an adult I recognize that art is everything around us. So my children’s book delightfully reflect the essence of art through the everyday things we do, such as taste, smell, see, feel and hear and move. The main character Nicky, is a 6 year old curious girl, on one of her hair combing days she asked her grandmother Wawa “ what is art?” Her grandmother told her that art is everywhere. It is what you taste, smell, hear, feel and see. Her grandmother also told her to use her imagination in order to capture the magic of art. “So everywhere Nicky goes her imagination follows”
Q: Why do you choose kids as your reader ?
During one of my podcast interviews I had recited my poem, when I was finished one of the other poets was so delighted he suggested I turned my poem into a children’s book. Without a second thought I did what Christopher Kaputo suggested, because I believe children should know that art is everything not just drawing and painting and dancing and singing but it is also cooking, playing, eating, climbing a tree and loving and being loved. I also want children to know that they too and everyone else that they come to know and love are artist and creators of the everyday important things in our life. I want children to develop a deep sense of appreciation of everything around them and they should be taught at a young age to admire everything with a “Wow, that is a beautiful art piece”!!!
Please also note that “My Grandmother Said, Art Is Everywhere” also for the grandmothers, the mothers, the fathers, the grandfathers, the aunts and the uncles and older brothers and sisters who will also be readers of this book. Many will read it and experience nostalgia and others will say now I learned something about the Jamaican culture.
Q: How did these stories and characters come to your mind?
I did an one on one story writing session with the brilliant multi-talented Poet, Author and Dancer Shakkoi Hibbert ( Everyone needs some Koi) whom after reading my poem and knowing that I was raised by my grandmother suggested I add a grandmother character in my book. So I said yes, this is a perfect opportunity to give tribute to my loving grandmother, who raised me, Miss Claris Ricketts who everyone called Wawa. I decided to extend the tribute by including, Aunty Leta, Uncle Uriah, Spoggy, Omar, Johnny, as characters. When each of my characters were alive they cooked, they played, they picked mangoes they climbed trees, and they all showed me love in they own special way. They too were artists who have left a legacy which the world need to know. As for the main character Nicky, she is still that curious daydreamer little girl who remains alive within me.
Q: Do you want to leave any message for your readers?
I want my readers to trust their imagination to guide them in the things they do and wherever they may go. I hope they may experience the magic of art everyday in what they taste, hear, smell, say, feel, and see. Yes, Art Is Everywhere!!