Guyanese author writes ‘My First Book About Masquerade’

Dr. Juliet Emanuel.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

The rhythm of a traditional Christmas spectacle of music and dance, seen on the streets of Guyana is told in “My First Book About Masquerade,” Dr. Juliet Emanuel’s children’s coloring and activities volume, about the practice of masquerade in Guyana through a child’s eyes.

Created for children between the ages of five and nine and released just in time to stuff their Christmas stockings, the paperback, illustrated by Guyana Cultural Association Cultural Director, Claire A Goring, is bold with colorful characters, and introduces the little ones to masquerade traditions.

The main characters, instruments and the basic shapes of masquerade costumes, squares, triangles, circles and rectangles, allows for learning, as well as coloring, to bring to life the vibrancy, and merriment that makes this tradition so entertaining. The book comes with a packet of markers for coloring.

Emanuel, secretary of the Guyana Cultural Association, (GCA), and a director of the Arts in the Community Summer workshops, said she listened to the rhetoric on cultural imperatives and contemporary education in the Guyanese academic curriculum during a GCA symposium, and was inspired to publish the book that has received rave reviews.

Book cover of “My First Book about Masquerade” by Dr. Juliet Emanuel. Photo by Tangerine Clarke

“I got the idea to write the book after I listened to the rhetoric on cultural imperatives and contemporary education in the Guyanese academic curriculum,” said Emanuel who plans to write future volumes to educate readers about Guyana’s rich cultural heritage.

“This is book #1 in a series on masquerade, each advancing in composition of text and comparative diasporic exercises,” she explained, adding, that the volume now being sold by Guyana Cultural Association NY Inc., is a limited copy production, and becoming something of a collector’s item.

“For a book of this type some research was necessary. I gathered a few insights from a symposium on the subject held in Guyana,” she noted, sharing that presenters at that event came from various parts of the Caribbean.

Dr. Emanuel, an award-winning poet, and former contributing editor for The Caribbean Voice, said there is a global experience in the art of masquerade. “You may call the act of masquerade a pretense, a removal from the reality of the daily experience, an escape into another realm of being; you may wonder about class; religion; history,” expounded the former certified early childhood teacher.

A professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College in the City University of New York, (BMCC/CUNY) Dr. Emanuel, encourages everyone to read the children’s book, since it is an introduction to a part of the culture of Guyana.

“My First Book of Masquerade” is for young children, a ‘read to book’ with simple learning activities. “Reinforcement is part of the concept as is recognition of shapes and colors,” she said. She noted that publishing the book did not change her process of writing, since writing takes time, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The seasoned author said the actual writing of the children’s volume took a shorter time, but the thinking about content a bit longer. Her poem on masquerade has a musical undertone to it.  “I heard masquerade music as I wrote the book,” she evoked.

Dr. Emanuel is committed to cultural and social organizations, the Episcopal Church/Diocese of Long Island; youth groups and academic organizations.

She is a writer and editor of academic and other texts and is active in the life of BMCC/CUNY. Additionally, she is the Immediate Past Executive Director of College English Association, which rewarded her with its highest honor when she left that post in 2019.

Dr. Emanuel has brought her brilliance, and stirring expertise to GCA’S Summer Youth Programs, its Symposium and its Literary Hang, a gathering of writers for many years.

The non-profit Arts & Cultural Center, located at St. Stephens Church in Brooklyn, propagates Guyana’s Cultural heritage, and raises funds through Facebook Giving Tuesdays platform for its “Arts in the Community,” contributions that will make an impact in improving the skills and education of children in the community. A $20.00 donation, and up, is being accepted for “My First Book About Masquerade.”

 Go to Guyana Arts & Culture Facebook page for more information, or call 718-209-5207.

More from Around NYC