Monday, December 13, 2010

Dominica: The Setting for Jamaica Kincaid's Autobiography of my Mother

Roseau, Dominica (photo credit)
Dominica Link

Jean Rhys' Childhood in Dominica too.
We walked around the home, took photos and tried to get a sense of her life and imagined the setting for Wide Sargasso Sea.

Autobiographical Picasso

Trivial autobiography?

Picasso a Show Off?
Germaine Greer writes:
There is something tiresome about Picasso. Jonathan Jones put his finger on it in a piece in the Guardian last month. "Each work by Picasso is a unique piece of autobiography," he said, which signifies that each work is, no matter how dazzling, inherently trivial. To understand Picasso's works, you must regard them as "anecdotes or snapshots of a particular moment in his life". There is nothing more to most of Picasso's work than virtuosic showing off – except for Guernica. The studies for Guernica show this was one work in which Picasso forgot himself.

And what does Picasso say about himself?

Perhaps the explanation of Picasso's quixotry can be found in something he said to the writer Giovanni Papini in 1952: "Today, as you know, I am famous, I am rich. But when I am alone with myself, I haven't the courage to consider myself an artist in the ancient sense of the word. Great painters are people like Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt, Goya. I am only a public entertainer who has understood the times and has exploited as best he could the imbecility, the vanity and the greed of his contemporaries. Mine is a bitter confession, more painful than might seem, but it has the merit of being sincere."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jamaica Kincaid in Dominica Learning about America


Jamaica Kincaid Impacts the Jewish Community

Invisible Man, but what about the invisible woman? In this
Helen Epstein- Editor's comments on Jamaica Kincaid's presentation where she selected a snapshot of her mother to display instead of a famous painting:

I was in my forties and listening to West Indian writer Jamaica
Kincaid speaking at the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston, when
I suddenly perceived their absence (like Pnina Motzafi-Haller in
her essay about mizrahi women in Israel,I applied the insight of an
African-American woman to my own life).

Jamaica Kincaid had done a brilliant and audacious thing: invited to choose her favorite painting at the museum and speak to a large audience about the reasons for her choice, she had beamed an old snapshot of her mother on themuseum’s large screen and talked about it.

All of us in the audience, of course, had been accustomed to viewing
the parade of art history on such a screen – from the Greeks to the
Renaissance masters to the Impressionists and Abstract Expressionists .
We were accustomed to oil portraits and elaborately framed photographs.

The effect of Kinkaid’s snapshot was shocking and
made the author’s point more forcefully than her words:
Had we ever seen the image ofan ordinary West Indian woman on the walls of a museum? Had we ever contemplated her face? Her body? Her surroundings? Her life?

How did we ascribe value to this snapshot when it was viewed in a
private photo album, in a newspaper, or here, in the context of other
portraits in the museum? We had all read or at least heard of Ralph
case, what about an entire sub-culture usually hidden by the majority
African-American minority culture?

Link to introduction

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kincaid's First Book: At the Bottom of the River

Kincaid's first book editor Pat Strachen: Interview

Jamaica Kincaid. I read one little story called “Girl” in the New Yorker, found out who the agent was, made an offer, and signed up the book [...] We [Edna O'Brien] put together her collected stories and got Philip Roth to write the introduction and got a front page TBR [Times Book Review review].

Pat Strachen

Pat Strachen had the idea for a book of collected stories after reading Girl, which was published in the New Yorker. She was an assistant editor at the New Yorker, and later an editor. She approached Jamaica Kincaid with the book idea.

Reactions to "Girl"

...and this
way they won't recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming

Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl"

Reader reaction:
"Although the mother tells her daughter that she is bent on becoming a slut I do not believe she is saying this to hurt her daughter’s feelings, the sense in which she uses this derogatory remark makes me feel that she is trying to get her ready for the world so the daughter could shield herself. I say this because although the mother tells her child that she is bent on becoming a slut, she also teaches her daughter what medicine to make and take to abort a child. In this short text, the mother giving her daughter all of these instructions gives me the impression that she may be going away or perhaps dying."

It's remarkable that this young man is defending Girl's mother. This understanding of the mother is the reaction I also get from many of my students. They refuse to believe that the mother is intending to be cruel. They think the mother is trying to pass on her wisdom and motivate her daughter to do the right thing.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jamaica Kincaid

What is the location of these interview comments?

Secondary source:  Her Story BBC World Service


She felt betrayed by her mother, so that even her first experience of menstruation came as a shock to her. She says that her mother had never explained to her before what was involved in becoming a woman:

First quote:

"I went to take a bath and noticed this brown rust thing in my underwear and was terrified of it and I told my mother and, I think she thought it was the best way to act, she said 'oh yes that happens'. And I felt kind of betrayed and nobody had told me that would happen to me so young. I remember I had a lot of pain during it and fainted and had to be sent home."

Excerpt from Annie John:

On the morning of the first day I started to menstruate, I felt strange in a new way- hot and cold at the same time, with horrible pains running up and down my legs. My mother, knowing what was the matter, brushed aside my complaints and said that it was all to be expected and I would soon get used to everything. Seeing my gloomy face, she told me in a half-joking way all about her own experience with the first step in coming of age, as she called it, which had happened when she was as old as I was. I pretended that this information made us close- as close as in the old days- but to myself I said "What a serpent!"

Annie John, 1985

Second quote: "I write about my mother and her influence on her children and on me all the time. She's dead now and I found that even that was a source of inspiration or something.."

Annie John excerpt:

My past was my mother; I could hear her voice, and she spoke to me not in English or the patois that she sometimes spoke, or in any language that needed help from the tongue; she spoke to me in language anyone female could understand. And I was undeniably that-female. Oh, it was a laugh, for I had spent so much time saying I did not want to be like my mother that I missed the whole story: I was not like my mother- I was my mother. And I could see now why, to the feeble attempts I made to draw a line between us, her reply always was "You can run away, but you cannot escape the fact that I am your mother, my blood runs in you, I carried you for nine months inside me." I had, at that very moment, a collection of letters from her in my room, nineteen in all, one for every year of my life, unopened. I thought of opening the letters, not to read them but to burn them at the four corners and send them back to her unread. It was an act, I had read somewhere, of one lover rejecting another, but I could not trust myself to go too near them. I knew that if I read only one, I would die from longing for her.

Annie John, 1985

Faux My Space

A My Space was created by someone has knowledge of  Jamaica Kincaid. It's a spoof that characterizes her as uneducated. Listed among her friends are her daughter, husband, father-in-law, and Tom, who probably is the author of the faux My Space.

Is Jamaica Kincaid American?

Jamaica Kincaid as part of the American Cannon

"I am very grateful for this award, this medal — named in honor of a great man, white and dead at that, I’m sorry to say — in American literature. In that sentence, it is the 'American' that is important, for this novel about a girl coming of age on a small island in the Caribbean has become part of the American canon." —Jamaica Kincaid

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Florida Student Examines Kincaid

Thesis link Lindsey Collins

Interest in title: Ciaan Live Split: An Old Mold and Kincaid's Intervention

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Interview at New Yorks' Swank Royalton Hotel

Dwight Garner interviews Jamaica Kincaid

Lobby of the New York Royalton Hotel
Excerpt from Webpage:
Royalton proudly re-opens its doors onto midtown Manhattan, re-thought, re-imagined, and once again, a paragon of intelligent, modern design. Royalton's legendary lobby, long an inspiration for elites of New York fashion and media, is invigorated with handcrafted African touches, graphic fabrics, original murals and the warm glow of a cast-bronze fireplace

The remodel that occurred after the interview added handcrafted African touches.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Guggenheim Fellowship Award 1985

Jamaica Kincaid won the Guggenheim Fellowship Award in 1985 for fiction.

Excerpt: History of the Award:

Established in 1925 by former United States Senator and Mrs. Simon Guggenheim, in memory of seventeen-year-old John Simon Guggenheim, the elder of their two sons, who died April 26, 1922, the Foundation has sought from its inception to "add to the educational, literary, artistic, and scientific power of this country, and also to provide for the cause of better international understanding," as the Senator explained in his initial Letter of Gift (March 26, 1925).

Island in the Sun

Alec Waugh's name comes up in Jamaica Kincaid's, A Small Place.
Kincaid is refering to 1951 British Holiday Magazine

The Antiguans are a fascinating mixture of imported Africa and Colonial England, and still retain fetishes of the bush. 'Is a good moon for planting Tannias' they tell you. The moon rules their lives ...their belief in Obeah...a kind of necromancy persists (259)
One of Alec's novels was adapted to film:
Island in the Sun 1957 Farley Hills, Barbados (Mansion is now burned down)
Film adaptation of Waugh's novel. Interracial and class struggle theme.
The Loom of Youth (1917) Reflections on his education and school years. His first semi-autobiographical novel wrote openly about homosexual encounters between boys and caused him to be expelled from the exclusive old boys society (The Old Shirburnian Society)

Alec Waugh: British World Traveler and Writer
 Alexander Raban Waugh (Alec Waugh) (8 July 1898 – 3 September 1981),

Monday, November 29, 2010

Jamaica Kincaid at Literary Festival in Antigua (2006)

Wordpress blog
Photographs and captions from the above blog: Wadadli Pen
Joanne C. Hillhouse author of The Boy From Willow Bend
A reading by Jamaica Kincaid, in Antigua, as rare in drought season

...but, boy, are there; pictured at the first fest in 2006 are (standing) S. E. James, Marie Elena John, Rosalyn Simon, and me; and (sitting, from left) Althea Prince, Akilah Jardine, and Jamaica Kincaid

Antigua's youngest writer at the time, Akilah Jardine, signing copies alongside it's best known writer, Jamaica Kincaid.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jamaica Kincaid and Hip Hop Culture?

Harvard Gazette

Hip Hop Harvard

Kincaid listens...
I remember thinking: Why do boys dress like this?” observed panelist-critic Jamaica Kincaid, a novelist who watched the early blooming of rap while writing for the Village Voice and The New Yorker in the 1970s. But then droopy pants and backward ball caps penetrated white culture in the suburbs, she said, puzzling parents with the fact that “the children they love are influenced by people they despise.”
Kincaid grew to “adore” the authenticity of girl rappers like Lil’ Kim, a fixture in the 1990s, and at the same time she noted the present “authentic inauthenticity” of a performer like Lady Gaga. “Now white children like black children,” she said, “and are pretending to be black children.”

At 16 Kincaid Left -not sent from- Antigua

Rollins link
"Winters with the Writers"
Jamaica Kincaid was born in 1949 in St. John’s, Antigua. As an only child, Kincaid maintained a close relationship with her mother until the age of nine, when the first of her three brothers were born. At the age of 16, with a growing ambivalence for her family and a rising contempt for the subservience of the Antiguans to British colonialist rule, Kincaid left Antigua, bound for New York. After working for three years and taking night classes at a community college, Kincaid won a full scholarship to Franconia College in New Hampshire. However, after a year of feeling “too old to be a student,” Kincaid dropped out of school, returned to New York, and secured a job writing interviews for a teenage girls’ magazine.

Jamaica Kincaid Awards and Honorary Degrees

•Induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2009)

•Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2004)

•Prix Femina Étranger (2000)

•Anifield-Wolf Book Award (1997)

•Finalist PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (1997)

•Lila-Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund Award (1994)

•Guggenheim Fellowship (1989)

•Morton Dauwen Zabel Award for Fiction (1985)

•Finalist for prestigious Ritz Paris Hemingway Award (1985)

•Finalist PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (1984)

•Anifield-Wolf Book Award (1977)

•Honorary Degrees from:

Middlebury College (1998)

Bard College (1997)

Amherst College (1995)

Long Island College (1991)

Williams College (1991)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Jamaica Kincaid in Rome, Italy

Noted writer Jamaica Kincaid visited the American Academy for an event co-sponsored by the US Embassy Rome and its Cultural Attaché David Mees. Here Kincaid read from her 1990 novel Lucy to a capacity audience, and then answered questions on her past and current work in a rich discussion. Jamaica Kincaid was in Rome in conjunction with the city’s 9th Festival Internazionale delle Letterature, for which she read the following day at the Basilica of Maxentius in the Forum.

Introducing Kincaid, US Ambassador to Italy David H. Thorne

Above, Jamaica Kincaid in audience discussion. Below, from left, Kincaid, AAR Heiskell Arts Director Martin Brody, Alice Waters

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fadiman Medal Awarded to Jamaica Kincaid

Jamaica Kincaid wins award on April 2010

This year's Clifton Fadiman Medal was presented to Jamaica Kincaid for her coming of age novel Annie John. The award, established by the Center for Fiction in 2000, recognizes a book worthy of "rediscovery and wider readership." Novelist Jane Smiley served as the 2010 judge and presenter of the award. Kincaid received the medal at a ceremony held at the Center for Fiction and the organization's director, Noreen Tomassi, spoke about the award and introduced the two novelists.(Jane Smiley A Thousand Acres)

Mr Potter is

Mr Potter is silenced: "Bitter Fruit" Maya Jaggi The Guardian UK

The tension between historical understanding and personal animus is never resolved. Writing becomes revenge; telling someone else's story can be a means of silencing them. At its worst, Elaine's voice is vindictive and self-aggrandising. Mordant irony no doubt drives Kincaid's description of the island's people as being of "no account". Yet rather than dignifying the lives of the "no account" people that it describes, this novel seems to bask in the author's godlike power: not so much to give life, as to withhold it. The effect, far from being humane, is sour and self-regarding.

San Francisco Chronicle: My Brother

Meredith Maran

My Brother is not, in fact, about Kincaid’s brother. It’s about life and death. It’s about how economic and emotional poverty corrode the body and the soul. It’s about the sticky tentacles that tie brothers to sisters, mothers to daughters, adults to their childhoods, people to where they come from–no matter how far they stray; no matter how desperately they try to escape.

Most of all, My Brother is about Jamaica Kincaid. Unshrouded, here, by the thin veil of fiction she’s draped around her disclosures in the past, Kincaid emerges naked–with her bold perceptions, and unappealing self-righteousness in evidence.

Anna Quindlen Reviews My Brother

Anna Quindlen, New York Times, writes that Kincaid's style is connected to the way people remember, without direct shape or form.


Now that memoir is the genre du jour, it is fashionable for readers to describe the best of them as being just like novels in their sharp characterizations and larger-than-life life stories. The problem with this observation is that memory is not much like fictional narrative at all. If a novel is a line, more or less, memory is connect-the-dots. Or perhaps even that is too direct, suggesting an order to our thoughts, a clear picture at the end. Memory feels more aimless than that, sometimes gliding, sometimes lurching from past to present, fantasy to reality, place to place.

My Brother; A Book Review

Peter Kurth
Salon favorable book review.

This is the enormous fly in Kincaid's literary ointment -- the fact that her mother remains unmoved, dominant, implacable and right, no matter what Kincaid says or thinks about her. She's on a self-imposed merry-go-round, whirling endlessly over ancient griefs and unhealed wounds, sitting on a battered, paint-peeled pony while her mother rides, permanently ahead of her, on a stately gilded horse. 
At his funeral, when the minister preaches to her about the afterlife, she remarks that "I did not like that at all ... I did not want to be with any of these people in another world. I had had enough of them in this one; they mean everything to me and they mean nothing, and even so, I do not really know what I mean when I say this." Which is why Kincaid keeps writing about them, undoubtedly -- to find out, or find out more. The only question that remains is how much longer she can mine this particular pit.

SALON | Oct. 9, 1997
Peter Kurth is a writer and biographer who lives in Burlington, Vt.

Jamaica Kincaid in People Magazine

Joanne Kaufman highlights Jamaica Kincaid's ordinary life in People Magazine. 15 December 1997
One car per hour passes Kincaid's three-acre property, much of it given over to her flower, fruit and vegetable gardens. In the front yard are there-mains of a wooden Succoth booth, covered in stalks of grain and leaves, that was constructed for the Jewish festival of tabernacles. Kincaid, who was raised a Methodist and converted four years ago to Judaism, which is also the religion of her husband, is reticent on the subject of faith. "I don't know why," she says, "but I do feel that God is a private issue." She is also, typically, passionate about her belief: Somehow it doesn't come as a surprise that she is president of the local 100-plus-member Congregation Beth El. "Jamaica will show up at a business meeting in overalls with garden dirt under her nails. She is able to win the respect of CEOs and persuade them to commit time and money to the synagogue," says Beth El's rabbi, Howard Cohen. "There is something of the prophet in her writing," he adds. "She writes a lot about oppression and makes people uncomfortable, which is what the prophets did."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Covi an Italian Professor in Canada

Geovanna Covi's Essay on Jamaica Kincaid (on PDF)

 "Jamaica Kincaid's Political Place: A Review Essay," Caribana, Rome, Italy. 1990, 1, 93-103.

In Defense of Kincaid's Criticism- Haiti and Missionaries

Photo credit and location at article link.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, in The Church -Sponsored Cultural Genocide, argues that Jamaica Kincaid's concerns about conversion and cultural genocide are founded in fact, sighting that the radio stations are calling for Haitians to repent in order to avert further disaster [retribution from a displeased god].

Seriously: Conservatives against Kincaid

Jamaica Kincaid's Anti-Christian, Nonsensical Remarks about Haiti and Capitalism by Charles C. Johnson.

Charles Johnson's conservative article/editorial takes Kincaid's background and sums it up as ignorance/stupidity because she is lacking in degreed education and understanding of Capitalism; and calls her a racist (white) because she criticizes the motives of Christians who are sending aid to Haiti. The reading audiences' follow up comments are harshly ignorant in tone.

Writer- writing Talk

Rollins College-American Novelist Jamaica Kincaid 2008 Selected quotes:

Jamaica Kincaid was born in 1949 in St. John’s, Antigua. As an only child, she maintained a close relationship with her mother until the age of nine, when the first of her three brothers was born. At the age of 16, with a growing ambivalence for her family and a rising contempt for the subservience of the Antiguans to British colonialist rule, Kincaid left Antigua, bound for New York. After working for three years and taking night classes at a community college, Kincaid won a full scholarship to Franconia College in New Hampshire. However, after a year of feeling “too old to be a student,” she dropped out of school, returned to New York and secured a job writing interviews for a teenage girls magazine.
The reading was followed by an interview with Philip Deaver, director of Winter With the Writers. During the interview, Kincaid talked about the autobiographical elements to all of her stories, how she found her voice by writing about her past and how her interests and knowledge in other areas intertwine and become part of her writing. 

She also shared, “I had to find my freedom because I was just 16 when I got to America and I was afraid and homesick, but I was determined to write. I think I found my voice through writing about my past. Everything I write is autobiographical. But I do not at all feel like I have put myself down on paper enough for anyone to really know me. I don’t even know myself well enough. I write autobiographically to explore, not to expose myself."
A visiting professor at Harvard University, where she teaches creative writing, Kincaid is at work on a new novel, See Now Then. The book is about a family in the small village of North Bennington, Vermont.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Research links of Jamaica Kincaid

Great info about JK and links to biographical details and articles can be found at this Bedford site and photo credit  here.

Flag of Antigua and Barbuda

image credit

Jamaic Kincaid Critical of US Christian Groups

Published: February 12, 2010 3:00 a.m.

Author defends Haitian religion (link to article and photo credit)

Kelly Soderlund
The Journal Gazette

Jamaica Kincaid knew she was going to annoy any Christians in the room, but she was willing to risk it.
While speaking to the media Thursday, the author and professor started reflecting on a trip to Haiti two years ago and wondered why it took an earthquake for the United States to pay attention to the impoverished nation.“I think, on the whole, church groups should be banned from these places,” said Kincaid, a native of Antigua.Many Haitians follow Voodoo as their religion. Christian groups don’t like it and are only in the country to try to spread Christianity, she said.“Their main reason for going there is to eradicate this belief,” Kincaid said.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Big Church in Antigua

St. John's Cathedral Photo credit:
As mentioned in Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John, the Anglican church actually exists but is currently closed for renovation. The big question, "Where will the money come from?"

A quote from the article:
And the thing is – whatever memories it evokes; whatever it symbolizes, sweet or bitter; however one weighs the needs of an iconic but crumbling church against the bread and butter needs of the day – its value is undeniable. House of worship of the largest denomination in the country’s dominant religion, the Anglican Cathedral is a piece of Antigua & Barbuda history, and an architectural marvel that’s proved a popular lure to thousands upon thousands of tourists – evincing historical, cultural, religious and economic value at the same time.

I hope to see the church restored sometime soon. I remember walking around the grounds looking at gravestones, and thinking about the movement of time and historical events. I was visiting Antigua as part of a Caribbean Literature conference held at the State College. My paper was on Jamaica Kincaid and so I took particular delight in exploring the Big Church. It is a worthy structure to preserve. I’ve always wanted to return and explore the church in greater detail. The specific information in this article is also helpful in bringing to life how historical events influence people and their actions.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Protection: Pride and Dignidad

Last night, I re-read the Jamaica Kincaid Salon interview (1995) and found the quote I was remembering but didn't know from where: "I have at my disposal a way of articulating things about her that she can't respond to." But she goes on to say that her mother shouldn't have had children and that she thinks her mother doesn't read her books." I used that Kincaid sentiment in an article I wrote and submitted for publication, but I remember not wanting to look for where it came from. I questioned the truth of the sentiment, I think. And also the idea that Kincaid's mother didn't love her and/or vise versa.

Recently, I read another article (by Maya Sela, 2010) in a newspaper that was written when she went to Israel this summer, she said that she thought her mother did read her work. She said, "She did read it. She was jealous of me. She just simply couldn't believe it." Kincaid goes on to explain the curious literary path her life took: "It really is an improbable story, my life. I mean, I grew up in this poor place, with very limited circumstances, at about 16 years of age was sent by my family to work, and instead of remaining in the position into which I was sent, I somehow worked my way out of it without any help from anyone, just luck." I think she means without family help or support because she does talk about a network of connections from Michael O'Donoghue (Saturday Night Live writer) who introduced her to George Trow (writer at The New Yorker) who then introduced her to William Shawn (editor of The New Yorker) and that these connections would be called help.

Her mother's reaction to her writing career is interesting: "[My mother] always thought that my becoming a writer was a form of putting on airs. She always thought I wanted to be something that I wasn't, that I was pretentious. She was never proud of me."

I was also strongly impacted by Kincaid's resentful comment about her mother charging people for interviews. I think Kincaid would expect that cunning from her mother, after all, it's an opportunity to earn money: "She did see my success. People would go to Antigua to interview her about me, and she would charge them [money] and would give them the impression that I didn't support her, and would say: 'Well, you have to pay me.' I never minded it because it allowed me to write more. She would say she didn't read [my work] and I thought: Good! I can say anything." That's what I read in the earlier Salon interview- that Kincaid felt that she was free to write/say anything because her mother didn't read her work. However, I thought she wasn't being completely sincere, but believing that her work was ignored by her mother, gave her the chance to express herself without reservation in the autobiographical mode. She says, "First of all, I think I'm writing very autobiographically, and my experience with the people I'm writing about - including myself - is not sentimental. It's very ... I want it to be true, to be real, and I think that romanticism interferes with what is true. And I think you should love the naked thing and then you can dress it up."

Kincaid says that the reason she changed her name (from Elaine Cynthia Potter Richardson to Jamaica Kincaid) was related to pride, "I didn't want my parents to know I was writing. I didn't know if I would succeed at it, but I wanted to be a writer. In fact, I thought I would fail at it, and if I failed under another name they wouldn't laugh at me." She also reveals that she has a Jewish name, which is "Ruth." And that even though she is divorced now, she remains in the Jewish faith.

Kincaid uses her boldness to counteract feelings of shame. She says in the Salon interview that whatever causes shame should be shown to others as a symbol of pride, "...everything that is a source of shame you should just wear brazenly." I see strength in her attitude that reminds me of the Puerto Rican concept of dignidad. She has a right to her space/place in life. And in her stubborn insistance, she forces you to take her seriously.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blog Research

I find a lot of information about Jamaica Kincaid through internet sources, though some of it is just book sales. I have an idea about using the blog posts and commentary ‘of the people’ in my writing, but I worry about how to incorporate it in a way that it is considered appropriate. Not that I won’t try anyway, but I want it to work as research. I see it as field writing research. When I look at blogs and other informal writing, I think now these are the people who actually read Jamaica Kincaid and practice in varying degrees autobiographical writing- these are the people who are involved in the dynamics I’m writing about.

Some of these blog writings are formal as they are written by scholars, or literary type people, while others are written by students, mothers and interested readers. I’m trying to think about how to include and reference these people. I have their blog name. I have their addresses (urls). I’m just concerned that people who don’t understand what I’m doing will think the work lacks rigor, namely the dissertation reading committee and my adviser. People are not writing about blogs here in academia in Puerto Rico. It’s not a form of publishing that has caught on and/or is respected.

Many people look away when I say I write a blog, I think they think it’s equivalent to Facebook in its substance. (I think Facebook is a great way to write mini-blogs, and I know that people use it to their own purpose so I am not criticizing the forum at all. I am able to reach more people through Facebook. I love sharing my Oasis blog with them.) I have five blogs I participate in, including this one- one I author for the general public about life, art and living in PR; another I write for myself that has all of the research about Jamaica Kincaid and autobiography, and the next two blogs are in public forums where I publish so that I can connect with other writers. I started this one to learn wordpress and to have a place that was semiprivate to freely write about my writing project. As is my habit, I am thinking about how my own writing behavior is shared by others-or not. I’m thinking about the autobiographical quality of blog writing, and instant publishing. What does it do to the author? What impact does it have in any direction. Recently, I saw a movie where the main character, a newspaper writer, made disparaging comments about his younger colleague because she wrote and published in a blog. I gleaned from his comments that he thought blogs were not serious writing because they talked about non-serious topics and didn’t use the same rules for publishing or research. Blogs were kind of a tabloid newspaper in his mind. I understand his opinion but I think there are many kinds of blogs that are written by various people.

The blog writer has more control if she creates and writes in the blog, but if it’s sponsored by a newspaper or connected to an organization, it follows the rules set up by their arrangement. Blogs can be seen on a continuum in level of seriousness and quality but that is not the point. Some people just want to connect with others by sharing ideas and hearing from their readers. Others write without much exchange. Some are informal while others are informal. However, they are part of the social interplay that we all are engaged in life, only this part is done on computer instead of paper or in person. It’s an entire world of literary exchange that has merit just because it exists and is growing, Lately, I have read about some academic conferences that address the blog as a writing medium. one was a woman’s writing conference in San Diego. I also saw a requests for submissions for a publication in another woman’s book. I think the blog literary landscape is changing.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Caribbean Anthology; Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root

A New Caribbean Anthology:

Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction

Posted by NJ News on Jun 27th, 2010 and filed under Book Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry from your site

Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction
The lushness of language and the landscape, wild contrasts, and pure storytelling magic abound in this anthology of Caribbean writing. Steeped in the tradition of fabulism, where the irrational and inexplicable coexist with the realities of daily life, the stories in this collection are infused with a vitality and freshness that most writing traditions have long ago lost. From spectral slaving ships to women who shed their skin at night to become owls, stories from writers such as Jamaica Kincaid, Marcia Douglas, Ian MacDonald, and Kamau Brathwaite pulse with rhythms, visions, and the tortured history of this spiritually rich region of the world.

Friday, June 25, 2010

KIncaid's Impact on a Young Reader

A young writer dreams of learning to write. She describes Kincaid as the writer capable of whipping her writing into shape; in Autographs and Pen Pals
By Olena Jennings posted at 4:56 pm on June 23, 2010
I once lived for furthering my collection of autographed books. Getting a book signed meant going to hear the author read, waiting in line with other fans, and then, finally, being presented with the chance to utter words of praise. Sometimes it meant getting teary-eyed with envy, worrying over whether I would ever write anything so poignant. This happened when Amy Tan walked by in purple velvet with her lap dog trailing behind her. During middle and high school, at the height of my obsession with autographs, I spent a lot of time writing letters, poems that exhibited the same longing for impossible love, and short stories that revealed I was fixated on the same themes of displacement and loneliness that I am now.

I heard Jamaica Kincaid read twice. The first time she read at the local university from her novel Lucy. I was in seventh grade and inexperienced in matters of love. She read a passage about sucking on a boy’s tongue and I was mesmerized. She stood before a large audience and I couldn’t help but see that she was someone important. The second time I went to hear her read, I got Lucy signed by her before she spoke. My father told her that I wanted to be a writer. She didn’t say anything, only proudly signed her name. Later, during the Q & A, she asked in perfectly enunciated words, “Where is that girl who wants to be a writer?” I shyly raised my hand. She went on to recommend Gertrude Stein to me. Following the reading, I began to imagine Jamaica Kincaid as my writing teacher. With her intimidating stature, I divined she would be just as intimidating of a teacher. I thought only she would be capable of whipping my writing into shape. I wanted her to treat my writing so harshly that my only option would be improvement.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Brother; Another Blogger's Reflection

My Brother, is a memoir that triggers profound feelings. Read about this reflection.

Gender Blog mentions Kincaid's "Girl"

A woman's conference, Oprah's Life Your Best Life, in New York and Kincaid's, Girl is mentioned.

Copy of Dale's blog: The Gender Agenda
Live your best life
Bonjour all,

Vous allez bien? I know summer has officially arrived in Belgium as I only had to wear a light trench coat yesterday.

Below are a few nuggets I gleaned from Oprah’s Live Your Best Life Weekend, which took place in New York City recently. I’ve tried to cull the content that links to women and career.

For those of you outside the U.S. and South Africa, let me clarify why I admire Oprah. Her magazine is one of the few periodicals mass marketed to women that does not insult our intelligence. It covers politics, spirituality, careers, food, health, volunteering, literature, and culture with both an international and female lens. Fashion and celebrities are footnotes, not focal. It’s a magazine that expects more of us (watch this space for a blog on how expectations shape self-belief and performance).

I first read interviews with two of my own role models – Nelson Mandela and Richard Branson – in O Magazine (side note on Richard Branson – I also read his hilarious and informative book of life lessons, Screw it, Let’s Do It after watching him on a BBC segment last year. He was leaping around the camera frame with great alacrity as he discussed Virgin’s development of environmentally-friendly airplanes. In other words, he was fired up about the work he was doing. That is one man that I would definitely follow into battle – but that’s a whole other blog on inspirational leadership).

Back to LYBL. Not since the Women’s Forum have I seen so many women in one aesthetically sumptuous place. No detail was overlooked. The stages were illuminated in neon pinks and purples; luscious murals abounded. Regular columnists for O Magazine held both plenary and informal sessions in which they shared wisdom and engaged us in Q&A; there was a discovery hall featuring interactive booths where you could be filmed sharing your point-of-view (on anything) for Oprah’s Network, join a live Wii Fit training session, get made over by L’Oreal cosmetic experts, or do some book shopping (I bought Ken Follett’sThe Pillars of the Earth for my summer beach read).

The LYBL weekend focused on empowerment and authenticity. Here are a few morsels to chew on.

Oprah on work, passion, and vision

“Let passion drive your profession.”

Oprah shared a childhood story with us about her grandmother teaching her to do the laundry in rural Mississippi (for me, the vignette invoked my favorite short story, Girl by Jamaica Kincaid). Oprah says she remembers even at that young age, thinking: No, grandma, this isn’t going to be my life.

Elizabeth Gilbert on women, choices, and self-forgiveness

“Every day, women live their lives as if it’s a final exam for their entire grade.”

Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, framed the conundrum of modern day females by pointing out that:

we are the first generation of women who have had an education, freedom, autonomy. We have more choices than the women who came before us. That’s why we live in the age of memoirs. We’re trying to seek role models, see how other women have ‘solved it’.

Gilbert’s grandmother lived through the U.S. depression. She had an absence of choices, was a ‘pioneer of continuing on’ – she was in a constant struggle for survival. “But,” Gilbert pointed out, “she wasn’t neurotic like me.”

According to Gilbert, these neuroses come from an embarrass de richesses of sorts. Gilbert believes these abundant choices can lead to women harshly beating themselves up in the manner of: I should have [taken that promotion/not taken that promotion; married Bob/not married Bob; spellchecked the email before I sent it; gotten my PhD in Shakespeare; learned to speak Spanish; bought the red not the blue; moved to the country instead of the city….] You get the idea.

“I am not often kind to myself when I fall short,” Gilbert said. She encouraged us to mitigate our high aspirations with a little self-forgiveness.

I can get on board with that. I’ve discussed women and perfectionism in this space before. It’s something that I struggle with. This blog is one antidote to my own perfectionism. Sometimes, you’ll see grammatical errors and inconsistent British / American English spelling because…wait for it…I’m not perfect. Sadly, writing this blog is just one small and fun part of my job, so I can’t spend hours perfecting it. I have to let go. I practice self-forgiveness.

Gilbert closed by saying that there are four types of women in modern society:

Those who choose career over family
Those who choose family over career
Those who choose both
The Mystics – those who listen to a deeply resonant inner voice and follow it wherever it takes them

Suze Orman on women and money

Money isn’t the most important thing in life. “Oh, yes it is,” said Suze Orman (after marching on stage to Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life”). When mothers show her photos of their children (the most important thing in their lives), she reminds those women that they must nourish, clothe, and house those children. With money.

Research shows that (despite making up 50% of America’s workforce and 40% of its primary earners) one of the reasons women still make less money than men is because women don’t ask for what they’re worth in salary negotiations (check out this toolkit for women seeking a raise).

Orman said, “You undervalue who you are, so the world undervalues who you are.”

Donna Brazile on taking risks

“I’m from New Orleans where Santa Claus rides an alligator, and we cook with grease and spices.”

Brazile told us to “cook with spice” – to take some risks. “Your attitude determines your altitude, “ she said. “Don’t let anyone put you in a little box…and never take NO for an answer. When people say it won’t be done, I say: It shall be done. And done well.”

Martha Beck on the voice within

“Whatever you’re supposed to learn, your soul will latch on to.”

(Love that. It rings true, n’est-ce pas?)

Beck also had wisdom to share on decision-making. “Are the animal and the angel inside of you leaning towards the decision or against it? Your body gets stronger as you move towards your inner truth.”

She had us do an exercise where we laced our fingers together and tried to pull our hands apart. We had to state a lie about ourselves (this made pulling our hands apart very easy) and then a truth about ourselves (this made pulling our hands apart very difficult – our muscles and joints ostensibly cooperating with our inner truth).

The “animal and angel” in me were FULLY in favour of me throwing caution to the wind, taking a vacation day, and flying across the Atlantic for LYBL and a visit with my best friend (see Carolina and I with our “O Glow” and SWAG bags, below). And yes – it was worth it.

à bientôt,


P.S. – Have you been watching the World Cup in South Africa? Europeans take football/soccer very seriously (“Football, Vacation, God – in that order,” a European once told me). Whether or not I watch the game, I always know who won by the large, impromptu mob that congregates outside the Brussels Bourse, afterwards, which I can see (and sadly, hear) from my living room. So far, the Brazilians have been the most coordinated – they had a marching band AND a choreographed fan dance. Very impressive, indeed.

Posted on 18 June 2010 in Current Affairs, Events, International, Networking, Women mentors Permalink

Jamaica Kincaid's Humor?

Can you believe that Jamaica Kincaid has a chapter in this book, Humor Me, ed. by Ian Frazier?
Her participation in this book could be explained by the long time friendship with the editor, Ian Frazier. She worked with him during her years at The New Yorker.

Check out the NPR review where Michael Schuab highlights Kincaid's piece:

Although Jamaica Kincaid and David Mamet might not be the first names you think of when someone mentions comedy, their short contributions are standouts, and their inclusion proves that comic writing doesn’t have to be zany and punchline-oriented.

I'm going to check out a copy at Borders' Library, soon.

Jamaica Kincaid in Israel; Interview Profile of RUTH

Published 11:43 18.06.10
Latest update 11:43 18.06.10
'An improbable story, my life'
Jamaica Kincaid left her home, name and culture behind, and embarked on what was to be an illustrious writing career. During a recent visit here, the Caribbean-born author talked about her complex relationships with Judaism - and the English language [Photo by: Daniel Tchetchik ]
By Maya Sela Jamaica Kincaid is surprised that many people still wonder at the fact that she converted to Judaism. It seems natural to her to be Jewish - and even to have served as president of her synagogue in Vermont. "Yes and I'm black and I'm a woman. Oh boy, it keeps piling on," she laughs. "I don't even think about it anymore. I haven't talked about it in a long time, no one has asked me about it. I forget that it might be interesting to anybody."

Kincaid was born Elaine Cynthia Potter Richardson in 1949 on the Caribbean island of Antigua. At 16, her mother sent her off to work as an au pair in New York to help support the family. In 1973 she changed her name to Jamaica Kincaid, published her first article, and began writing for various publications. In 1976 she began to work at The New Yorker, where she was a staff writer until 1995. She married Allen Shawn, son of William Shawn, the legendary longtime editor of The New Yorker, and they had two children, who Kincaid says define themselves as both black and Jewish. She divorced Shawn - but adds that she certainly did not "divorce" Judaism.

Jamaica Kincaid.

Photo by: Daniel Tchetchik
Kincaid, who was in Israel last month as a guest of the Jerusalem International Writers Festival, is among America's prominent writers and a central figure in the world of Caribbean literature. Works that have been published in Hebrew translation are "Annie John" (originally published in 1985 ) and "Lucy" (1990 ) - two novellas about female adolescence, in which she revisits her own youth and the circumstances of her leaving Antigua and relocating to the United States. In subsequent books, not translated into Hebrew yet, she depicts her mother's life ("The Autobiography of My Mother," 1995 ) and her brother's death from AIDS ("My Brother," 1997 ). In her most recent work of fiction, "Mr. Potter" (2002 ), which was translated into Hebrew by Yaarit Tauber Ben-Yaakov , Kinkaid writes about her biological father, with whom she had virtually no contact.

Her recent visit was not her first to Israel. This time, she says, she was struck when visiting Bethlehem upon seeing a new Jewish settlement across the way.

"I wondered what they thought of each other when they looked across, two reflections," she says, adding: "I understand the impulse to put up the separation fence, but I also find that the imagery of the separation is so reminiscent of other images: the walls, the barbed wires. You think: Here's the thing about human beings and bad things - we do it again, but in a somewhat different form. The same thing doesn't happen twice. The same thing happens, but differently. Everyone would like to be the only victim. We don't make room for the fact that the other people are capable of narratives, that they are people."

Israel is going through a difficult time in terms of identity, Kincaid continues: "You can't have a democratic state and a privileged group of people. But it will work itself out. The bad guys in this story are also the good guys of another story, so it's very confusing. I think it is fascinating to see such confusion - you don't know whether you are bad or good. Sometimes you think: 'We have been treated so badly,' and then you turn around and do bad to others. I don't know if I have ever seen a country like this."

When it comes to taking a clear stand on Israeli politics, however, she has reservations: "I hesitate because I shouldn't come to someone's country and talk about them as if I know what to do. I want to make it clear that I didn't come here to preach to Israelis. We come from a country that's done horrible things and is doing horrible things in the world even with a president that I love. I love Obama, I think he is a great president, but he does things that I cannot agree with. He is a president of a country that is a pretty horrible country, and I don't think Israel is a horrible country."

She believes it is easier for Israelis to criticize Israel than for Americans to do so: "If we Americans say what we think, we go home [afterward] and meet American Jews who are really willing to do everything to destroy our lives. We meet American Jews who are devoted to Israel in their way - and I don't think it's in Israel's interest - but they will attack us and paint us as anti-Semites or self-hating Jews. It's very difficult to say anything critical of Israel. For instance, if you make an observation that some of the ways in which Israel has organized itself are awfully familiar and the familiar is apartheid, well, there might be a campaign to fire you from your job or not hire you."

Kincaid says she is sometimes astonished at her fellow Jews: "You'd never have thought the Jewish people were ignorant. I mean the admiration for someone like Sarah Palin - it's not widespread among Jews, but [is felt] in certain circles. And you think: How did Jews become ignorant? It's like one of these biblical moments where 'they all fell into a pit.' I think power is blinding. And then, you know, you have idiots from the other side who would say 'boycott Israel' ...

"The Israeli situation is not South Africa. It looks like it sometimes, but it's not. When you see the separate roads, it's shameful. When I was in Bethlehem yesterday and saw Rachel's Tomb - that's pretty hard, you know. The worshiping of the existence of it was for me so disturbing. Haven't you heard: 'Thou shalt have no graven images'? The tomb is a graven image."

This interview took place before the Gaza flotilla affair, but in a piece that appeared afterward, in the special Haaretz edition marking Hebrew Book Week, Kincaid wrote about American television coverage of the incident: "To go from channel to channel is to hear from the same people, the same words and phrases: We were set up; they had weapons; they had slingshots and metal pipes and marbles; they used our guns against us; we were defending ourselves; international waters; a provocation; the fight against terror is not an easy choice; a hard choice; we had no choice; Israel should; Israel should not; Gaza, Egypt and Hamas; these people are not peace loving; we are a peace-loving people.

"It's the Israeli ambassador to the United States [Michael Oren] who is really fascinating. He does not falter in his defense of his country's right to do anything. Right after the 'incident' (a word that I think goes well with that other word, 'situation' ) - when I first saw him on the air, he looked shaken. But then later, he was in full-throated form. He seemed to me to be saying that, in a world full of bad actors, why wasn't Israel allowed to be one of them."

Bronte fan
When speaking about her illustrious career, Kincaid explains her decision years ago to change her name: "I didn't want my parents to know I was writing. I didn't know if I would succeed at it, but I wanted to be a writer. In fact, I thought I would fail at it, and if I failed under another name they wouldn't laugh at me.

"I was very young when I did it. I was interested in style, I had cut off all my hair, bleached it blonde, and I had no eyebrows. I wore very odd clothes. And so I picked a name that was a combination of an island name and a very English name. Havana was one choice and Dominico was another, but I liked the combination of Jamaica Kincaid.

"I came from a background where to be a writer was unheard of. But I always wanted to write. I loved Charlotte Bronte when I was little, and I wanted to be Charlotte Bronte the way people want to be a princess. I had no idea what it meant, that it would be something to be responsible for, something that would have a meaning."

Kincaid's mother never accepted her new name, nor her profession, even when she became successful. Yet nothing changes in her singsong tone of voice as she explains: "[My mother] always thought that my becoming a writer was a form of putting on airs. She always thought I wanted to be something that I wasn't, that I was pretentious. She was never proud of me.

"She did see my success. People would go to Antigua to interview her about me, and she would charge them [money] and would give them the impression that I didn't support her, and would say: 'Well, you have to pay me.' I never minded it because it allowed me to write more. She would say she didn't read [my work] and I thought: Good! I can say anything."

Do you really think she never read your work?

Kincaid: "She did read it. She was jealous of me. She just simply couldn't believe it. It really is an improbable story, my life. I mean, I grew up in this poor place, with very limited circumstances, at about 16 years of age was sent by my family to work, and instead of remaining in the position into which I was sent, I somehow worked my way out of it without any help from anyone, just luck. You know, I met someone who said: 'You should meet the editor of The New Yorker.' The editor said: 'Could you try to write something and I'll see if you really can write.' I wrote something, he published it, and that was that. But it's all luck. It's improbable.

"I was in despair that my mother could have sent me out into the world all alone. I thought: How could she do that? How can I survive? I had no family, no friend. I went off to college in New Hampshire. I left my job as an au pair, spent a year in college, left because I wanted to be a writer, moved back to New York and in a year I was writing. And it's not because I'm especially brilliant: It's really [a case of] one of those fools going where angels wouldn't go."

You made decisions that most people do not make. You changed your name, you converted to Judaism.

"You mean my Hebrew name?"

You have a Hebrew name?

"Of course! Doesn't everybody? It's Ruth, what else?"

Of her decision to convert, she says: "It seemed so natural. It's not that I didn't give it a thought; there wasn't any reason to be thoughtful about it. It had become such a part of my life. I was trying to get the children to integrate all the different strands of their ancestral memory - that my family came from one part of the world through a certain set of historical events; their father's [Jewish] family, through a certain set of events, came from another part of the world and had its own ancestral memory. So I tried to say: 'This is who you are or who you could be,' and would take them to synagogue from when they were little. I realized they wouldn't stay if I just dropped them off and picked them up, so I began to stay and help out. Over time I became so involved in the synagogue that it was just clear I was a part of the life of the people [there], so I converted and never looked back."

Her husband and his family were actually disconnected from Judaism, and certainly did not ask her to convert, she adds. "I like the truth, and it was a true thing for my children that their father's family had a long attachment to the Jewish people through blood and memory. My children's grandmother grew up in a kosher home, so I didn't want them to wonder, you know: 'We find ourselves not being able to eat meat [in other places] and don't know why.'"

Not sentimental
Kincaid has a tendency not to let the reader identify with or like the protagonists she writes about.

"First of all, I think I'm writing very autobiographically, and my experience with the people I'm writing about - including myself - is not sentimental. It's very ... I want it to be true, to be real, and I think that romanticism interferes with what is true. And I think you should love the naked thing and then you can dress it up."

In general her work reads like a historical study of her own past, yet it also has the repetitiveness of prayer. She repeats sentences that create a feeling of emotional detachment . For example, in "Mr. Potter": "[A]nd he drove along the road almost in a stupor and said nothing to himself and sang nothing to himself and thought nothing to himself, Mr. Potter drove along and nothing crossed his mind and the world was blank and the world remained blank."

In a review of the Hebrew translation of "Mr. Potter" in the Haaretz literary supplement in 2004, Omri Herzog wrote: "Kincaid's writing stems from a wound - a wound that is as natural to the body as breathing. Kincaid attests that she wanted to write to forget the wound, in other words to forget herself and who she was 'then': a teenage girl in Antigua, present in the hall of mirrors of colonial, familial, class and gender oppression. The option of being a writer was perceived not as a medium for political liberation, but rather for suspending the physical pain. Thus writing is not a means for self-knowledge or self-awareness; it is the refuge from all these."

Kincaid says her relationship to the English language is likewise complicated, since it was the language of the British colonizer in Antigua until 1981, when the island won independence.

"My relationship to it is not an easy one, but it's what I got. What I got was English. My consciousness is influenced by Shakespeare, Milton, the Brontes - you name it. Franz Fanon writes about this thing called the double consciousness. Yes, I'm someone with it, and now I have a triple consciousness. But actually it turns out that that's a truly modern existence - you have more than one consciousness. It started out [as something that] was imposed, the colonialism and so on, but the more [people] meet each other, the more conscious we are of each other.

"The English language started out as a distortion in my life, but nothing remains the same, and so the distortion is now just normal. That is one of the things that will happen to all distortions: They become normal and turn into something else."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jamaica Kincaid - Letteratura, Festival internazionale di Roma

Jamaica Kincaid - Letteratura, Festival internazionale di Roma: "JAMAICA KINCAID

Participates at:
15 JUNE DESTINY - Life forms: choice and chance
Read: Il Decano e Mrs. Hess - Unpublished
Of: Jamaica Kincaid"

Jamaica Kincaid's theme for her June 15th reading was Destiny- Life forms: choice and chance. She read an unpublished work: "The Dean and Mrs. Hess."

Festival delle Letterature in Rome

Festival delle Letterature in Rome: "Festival delle Letterature
The Roman Forums - site of the Festival delle Letterature. Rome's Festival of Literature takes place every year in the Basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forums. It features a wide range of international and domestic writers, who present a piece of work specially written to the theme of the festival - previous years' themes have included 'fear, hope' and 'real, imaginary' . Entrance is free, but limited by the number of available seats.
The range of authors appearing is always an unusual one that caters to a wide variety of tastes - in the past Banana Yoshimoto, Paul Auster, Salman Rushdie, Susan Sontag, Doris Lessing, Jonathan Franzen, and Gore Vidal have all appeared."

Festival Letterature di Roma 2010

Elaine Cynthia Potter Richardson (Elaine Cynthia + biological father surname + step-father surname) changed to writer's name = Jamaica Kincaid

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Impressions of a Travel Writer

Jamaica Kincaid writes autobiographically. Whatever and whenever, Kincaid writes, she writes autobiographically. Recently, I reflected about her time spent in Dominica. Her mother is from this island, though she left home at 16 years old and never moved back. Kincaid was sent to Dominica when she was 9 years old. She was in trouble. As a young girl, her mother, Anne Richardson (Potter), had a strong personality. She fought with her father. She fought with her sister. Her mother was Carib (Indian), and was seen in a more friendly light by Anne. Jamaica Kincaid also liked her grandmother particularly well. (Ma Chess?) She writes in The Best American Travel Writing (2005) that she traveled to Mahaut from Roseau (Port) on the ship called "The Rippon". She said she was sick the entire trip and upon her arrival, no one was there to greet her. As a matter of fact, her relatives were not expecting her because her Dominican aunt would not open letters from Anne as they were having a fight and not opening letters was a family form of "the silent treatment". The description of the taxi drive from Roseau to Mahaut involves a dangerous trip near steep cliffs, however, when I traveled there, I did not see steep mountains in the Mahaut area. In other parts of the island, it is very steep. I wondered if I had gotton the location wrong. I still wonder about that. Maybe it's technically in Mahaut, but actually in the inner more mountainous area. Kincaid's family had a plantation there where they grew coffee and other plants. I found all of this detail in the introduction of the book. Most editors of a book within a series write about the contents of the collection. Afterall this is what the purpose of the introduction is generally understood to be- to spark your interest in the essays by telling you a little bit about each one. Nevertheless, Kincaid writes an essay about her self; about how she became a travel writer. I thought that she would have an essay in the collection, which would explain why she has gone into such detail about her own experience, but it is not there. She writes about the feeling of displacement that all travel writers experience. She explains that most of the writers feel comfortable with there circumstances and that's why they want to explore other places. She claims that they think there vision of the world, how much better they have it and how they want to share it, is universal. She also says other travel writers may not agree, and that she's fine with that, however, she will not change her mind about their reasons.
The description of Dominica is lush, green, steep and it rains most of the time. She said she learned to walk in the rain while there, and that in Antigua no one went out in the rain. People would cancel plans because of the rain, but in Dominica, rain was taken for granted. When I reflect upon the land, I see her grandmother, squatting down, and cooking on an outdoor stove. I see her independence. Her ability to not talk with her husband and even her own daughter. I see her sleeping on a low bed with Kincaid curled up next to her but both in there own space. I think of Kincaid and her life in Dominica. I think of her rejection by her own mother, and even upon her return, I see her mother too busy to notice her girl. I also see a girl writing angry lies on notes, and placing them under a rock- just like the scene in Autobiography of My Mother.