|Roseau, Dominica (photo credit)|
Childhood home...is 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.
|Roseau, Dominica (photo credit)|
|"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."|
| 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|
| 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|
|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.
|Alec Waugh: British World Traveler and Writer|
|A reading by Jamaica Kincaid, in Antigua, as rare as...as...rain 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.|
|Hip Hop Harvard|
|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 |
|Photo credit and location at article link.|
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.
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.
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.