Erotica, a new edition to the literature landscape in Barbados, was discussed at a recent panel discussion at the bookshop of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies.
Exploring the topic “How free are we really? The use and acceptance of erotica in Barbadian culture”, the event was organized by Robert Gibson, owner of Erotic Empire in conjunction with the University Bookshop.
Gibson is the author of five erotic writings; Erotic, Seduction, Offering, Quotes of Passion, and the novel Make It Raine — all of which are available on Amazon and at the University Bookshop.
The discussion, moderated by Nailah Imoja, involved four local award-winning writers who have redefined the erotic landscape in Barbados.
– Cher ‘Antoinette’ Corbin who is the author of the books My Soul Cries, Virtusālis, Virtuālis– The Anthology and Architects of Destiny.
– Robert Sandiford, the recipient of The Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Literary Arts and the author of nine books including The Last Sad Stories of G Brandon Sisnet, Sometimes The Fly and Great Moves.
– Deborah ‘Mariposa’ McCollin, the author of seven erotic books which are sold on Amazon: Journey of The Butterfly, My Heart Whispers, Moscato Moments, Christmas Seduction,Tameless- Deep Inside Me, Tameless- Bold, and Tameless- Forbidden .
The panellists first explained what erotic writing means to them.
“ For me, [with] erotica you are playing to the senses [as] it is multi-sensor. It may sound weird but something as simple as eating can be an erotic experience,” said McCollin.
She made it clear that erotica is not pornography as most persons believe it is. McCollin was supported by Corbin who said that, to her, pornography leaves nothing for the imagination.
“…You don’t have to think about it; it’s purely a human sexual reaction based on what you see or what you are hearing. I find for me my erotica writing is more successful when I do not use any curse words at all,” Corbin explained.
“For me, it is a lot of innuendo, a lot of playing on words, double entendre and all of that is how I write. I do that because I want the differentiation between erotic writing and going into that graphic sexual realm.”
Noting the debate that was taking place on whether or not erotica can be pornography, McCollin said she did not want to put everything out there but for her poems to have a mystery to them.
Gibson, however, saw the issue differently from McCollin and Corbin and defended why his erotic writings are raw and graphic.
“For me it’s the difference between cerebral and primal, cerebral and physical. When I write, I go the opposite end to Cher at least in the novel [Make It Raine] for sure,” he said.
“It is raw because the characters speak to me in that manner. When I write something else, the characters will be different and they will speak to me in a different way. The rawness is deliberate in terms of being descriptive.”
Making it clear that he does not degrade women and that when he performs as a spoken word artiste under the stage name ‘Passion Poet’, Gibson pointed out that he always tells the audience that passion is not always about sex.
Sandiford agreed with the views of McCollin, Corbin and Gibson that erotica is more sensory as opposed to pornography.
“Erotica aims a little bit for the senses and I think it’s trying to go from lower down and come up [to] reach our brain and permit you to see relationships in a more multi-faceted way,” he said.
“Pornography may be one-dimensional in its exploration of sexual response and sexual desire. Erotica tries to be a bit more than that but the two can overlap and cross each other sometimes,” Sandiford added.
The discussion went on for over two hours with the panellists and members of the audience discussing if Barbadians are really accepting of erotic literature. Some members of the audience, including DJ Simmons and Empress Zingha Simmons, gave examples of how their work was not accepted because some persons did not want to feel guilty for reading an erotic book as sex is still a taboo topic to discuss.
Gibson announced plans to host another similar discussion in February and is hoping to have more panellists share their thoughts on the topic of erotica and its acceptance.