Cheryl Diane Parkinson
Official Website of Author
Dr. Cheryl Diane Parkinson is a Caribbean British writer/educator from East London, living in Norfolk. She is an educator of 17 years, teaching English Literature and Language at GCSE and A Level and has recently completed a PhD at Birmingham University in Creative Writing. Her publishing history includes writing non-fiction for ByLine Times, (2021) The Voice Online, Fem Magazine as well as The National Union of Teachers. She has written fiction for Epoch Press published in Roots magazine, The Grapevine Magazine, and has had The Revolving Door published in 2018. Her latest publication was for Afro Literary Magazine, Black Girl Rising (Dec 2021) and has recently featured in an interview: Author’s Spotlight by Epoch Press.
As a writer she is concerned with representation of black people within the literary arena and equality for all. She seeks to create characters that others would like to read about. In the wake of George Floyd, she would like to contribute to the creative solution needed to help our world become a more understanding place. Her debut novella Maya, which is being published by LR Price Publications is due for release early 2022.
Berthas is a novel exploring the Black British Caribbean Identity of Black British Caribbean Women and the notion of 'blackness.' Set in both the UK and the West Indies, Berthas explores the issues of hybridity, diaspora, and duality; following four women over four generations. The imagery presented is vivid and the language is lyrical. This emotive tale begins with the death of a matriarch and ends in the birth of her granddaughter.
Berthas is written in a lyrical style much like Toni Morrison's Jazz (1992), Beloved (1987) as well as Sam Selvon's Lonely Londoners (1956). Like these novels, Berthas has a distinct but modern style that deliberately links with these lyrical novels. And like the characters and people it represents, the structure of this novel is of a hybrid nature. Berthas rests within the oral tradition of the Caribbean as well as incorporating the traditional superstitious beliefs that survived African Slavery, combined/compared with the religious Christian beliefs of the West, and is very much set in the modern world. The language is also reflective of the hybridity of the people, combining English with Patois in order to create a new language for a new people.
The structure combines different voices, exploring Double Consciousness through Dissociative Identity Disorder, and the hybridity of culture and experience through Revisionist Literature. These voices overlap at times, creating a sense of confusion which is reflective of the theorised collective sense of cultural confusion of being Black Caribbean British. Berthas also examines the internal voice much like Bessie Heads, A Question of Power (1973).
“Monica” can be found in EPOCH Issue 03: Roots
Available to order now, Summer issue invites its contributors and readers to explore the depth and meaning of their ‘Roots’. As the world shifts and changes under social and environmental pressures, ‘Roots’ harkens to where we came from and what might ground us. It is a collection of art that spans the globe and the spectrum of human experience. From the breadth and surprise of family trees to the patient lessons of gardens, from the damaged roots that learn to thrive to the new and tender roots that only just began to grow, these works invite you to examine and define the ties that bind.
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On Sale Spring 2022
Maya is about a black woman who dies and is then reincarnated as a teenage white girl. She inhabits within her psyche the memories of the Middle passage as well as the stereotype of The Angry Black Woman - an alto ego that many black people have inside in order to survive in a white society. This young white girl struggles with essentially two personalities within one white body. There can only be one dominant personality...
Jar of Teeth. Published by The Grapevine Magazine.
Teeth are funny. They mean different things to different people. Once, when I was younger, I met this boy called Charles. Which may or may not have been his real name. Charles loved his teeth. Perhaps more than what was considered normal. Skin was black as coal, his teeth glowed white, framed by his wide smile. Row upon row of polished white teeth crammed his mouth like pearl peas in a dark pod. I didn’t trust that smile, but I couldn’t stop staring.
Image by Louise Evans
I imagined him brushing them religiously every night for three minutes, not two, with an egg timer to keep him on track. Then I imagined him flossing. And mouthwash afterwards. Listerine - of course. The one that had the built-in-whitener. And he would use a whitening gel and painstakingly paint it on each tooth - careful to get in the folds. Then he would wait, mouth gaping like a fish, for it to dry.
But his teeth were in his mouth. Exactly where you would expect them to be. But sometimes, I now know, teeth appear in other places. With the looming threat of ripping flesh.
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OUR LIVES MATTER.
Black History is Still Confined to the Margins of the Education System
20 October 2020
I came across a young dual-heritage student recently in my school who pointed out a black and white A5 poster stuck on an empty white wall, advertising Black History Month.
A conversation began around the Black Lives Matter movement before a white student groaned, waved his hands around animatedly and said: “For God’s sake, all lives matter!”
The boy is 11 years old and seems to have absorbed the divisive misinformation peddled by the National Curriculum.
Boris Johnson’s Government is fixated with ‘British values’, yet the students I come across on a daily basis are taught the opposite.
According to Ofsted, which inspects schools, “fundamental British values” comprise “individual liberty” and “mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs, and for those without faith”. But the teaching demanded in schools does not correlate with these ideals.
Students are unaware of black Georgians, Victorians and Romans. And they aren’t told about the racist pseudo-science that developed on the tails of the Enlightenment period. Fundamentally, there is still an underlying attitude that Britishness equates to whiteness, and a lack of interest in the experience of the black community.
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