Tuesday, November 6, 2012


"If you were to write an autobiography, you would have to spend a lot of time at the courthouse, looking up the date your great-grandfather was born, what year your father bought the house on Elm Street. The research for a memoir can be done in an easy chair. Close your eyes and try to recapture the moment you bought your first car, learned you were pregnant, met the President or wobble down the street on a two-wheeler."http://www.squidoo.com/memoir-examples

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Memory: Gertrude Stein -there is no there there...

There statue at the Oakland/Berkeley border. Photo by Joe Sciarrillo.

"...what was the use of my having come from Oakland it was not natural to have come from there yes write about it if I like or any- thing if I like but not there, there is no there there." Gertrude Stein

When she published Everybody's Autobiography two years later [1937], saying there was "no there there," it was written to reflect painful nostalgia about her home being gone and the land around it being completely changed. The house where she grew up was on a sprawling 10-acre plot surrounded by orchards and farms. By 1935, it had been replaced by dozens of houses. Oakland held a special significance to her, and on her return, she found that Oakland had urbanized and changed from the pastoral place she remembered.
Matt Werner, Huffington Post

Gertrude Stein-Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein 
(link to complete text)

What is the grammatical significance of "there"?

Part of Speech:  The word 'there' can either be a pronoun or adverb depending on how it is used in a sentence. If you use it to describe a location (it is there), it would be a pronoun. If you put the word before a verb (there is), then it would be an adverb.

In Stein's quotation:
...there [adverb before verb] is no there [pronoun-absence of location] there (pronoun-location)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Royce Carlton Caribbean novelist Jamaica Kincaid will address the Grinnell College class of 2012 at the College’s 166th Exercises of Commencement, on at 10 a.m. Monday, May 21, on Central Campus. (See previous post for YouTube/Recording)
Kincaid, known as a “significant voice in contemporary literature,” is the author of  At the Bottom of the River, Annie John, A Small Place, Lucy, Autobiography of My Mother, My Brother, and other works.   Her “highly personal, stylistic, and honest writings” are considered loosely autobiographical from her upbringing in Antigua, with strong images of “tenuous mother-daughter relationships amid themes of anticolonialism.”  Kincaid was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009 for her 

Jamaica Kincaid's agent for speaking engagements is Royce Carlton. This photograph is part of the publicity package. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Jamaica Kincaid at Grinnell College

Jamaica Kincaid's Grinnell College commencement speech addresses the liberal college's mission statement:

The College aims to graduate women and men who can think clearly, who can speak and write persuasively and even eloquently, who can evaluate critically both their own and others' ideas, who can acquire new knowledge, and who are prepared in life and work to use their knowledge and their abilities to serve the common good.

Caribbean novelist Jamaica Kincaid will address the Grinnell College class of 2012 at the College’s 166th Exercises of Commencement, on at 10 a.m. Monday, May 21, on Central Campus.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jamaica Kincaid's New Novel Resease

Article from Fall Fiction:

It has been 10 years since Jamaica Kincaid’s last novel, but on September 4, 2012, she’ll be back with a slender book about a family in crisis, See Now Then (FSG).

Kincaid, who was born in Antigua, makes several nods to literary history in this family drama: The Sweets live in the Shirley Jackson house in Vermont, for one. This mismatched couple has two children, Heracles and Persephone, who are the main observers of their parents’ crumbling marriage.

Known for her penetrating portrayals of the human mind and heart, here the former New Yorker writer “evokes the bitterness of love gone sour and turned to contempt, the intensity of the bonds between parents and children, and the profound unknowability of all individuals,” says the publisher. We’re eager to get a peek at this one come September.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Autobiography of a Yogi

March 7, 2012 marks the 60th anniversary of the mahasamadhi (a God-realized yogi's final conscious exit from the body) of Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) and widely regarded as the father of Yoga in the West. His best-selling life story, Autobiography of a Yogi, has been hailed as one of the 100 most influential spiritual books of the 20th century and has introduced millions of Westerners to India's ancient philosophy and science of Yoga. (click here for link to article)

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/03/07/prweb9257896.DTL#ixzz1oXylsMZh

Unauthorized Autobiography

But what if God wrote his autobiography? It would be a long book with no beginning and no end! Yet he has written a book about himself. Its purpose is to reveal himself to you so that you might have a relationship with him.
Philip Schroeder, a pastor at First Baptist Church Bulverde, San Antonio,
thinks of the Bible as an

I think Schroeder should compare the chapters to a collection of memoirs because each writer's voice has a unique style and presentation however, this is what he writes:

"Your maker designed you to know him. How do you get to know this God? By reading his word, not just to get to know a book better, but to get to know the author.
If you believe that God really did make you, then what could be more valuable than his words about himself and who you are in relationship to him?
'For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.' (Hebrews 4:12)
How can a mere book do all that? The Bible can do that because it is breathed by God. It is alive because the words are his."

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/community/bulverde/article/Why-reading-the-Bible-can-help-you-3389241.php#ixzz1oXt55nVa

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Aloud Program Podcast features Jamaica Kincaid

presented by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles


Title: Jamaica Kincaid, "See, Now, Then"
Participants: Jamaica Kincaid
In conversation with Brighde Mullins
Program Date: 4/26/2011
Program length: 01:18:03
Media Type: MP3

Jamaica Kincaid and Lyrics

Monday, October 10, 2011
Performance by composer Su Lian Tan based Jamaica Kincaid's text: "a rare and wonderful opportunity to hear a recent work by composer Su Lian Tan, based on a text by Jamaica Kincaid."

"Jamaica’s Songs, commissioned by Middlebury College, was premiered in 2000 as part of the College’s bicentennial celebrations. Many musicians who have performed this cycle, as well as audience members, find a great solace in its expression. They have remarked, and often, that they find in these songs a channel for mixed emotions regarding their mothers, almost a way out of them. Strong negative feelings as well as longing and pure childlike love emanate from the text by Jamaica Kincaid. She wrote these songs for me the year her mother died and I felt it very necessary to help in her process of healing. My heart went out to her, as heard sometimes in the instrumental writing, this most gifted and powerful of writers. I have meandered in Jamaica’s garden in Vermont with pleasure, as I have found the courage to grow in her company."
-Su Lian Tan (The Fortnightly newsletter.)

Jamaica Kincaid and visual image

Jamaica Kincaid shares that her autobiographically based novel, Annie John was inspired by seeing a postcard painting "Kept In" by Edward Lamson Henry's (1889),which recalled strong memories of her childhood in Antigua.

Washington College/April 11, 2009

Roger Ebert's Review of The Last Station

If Joyce was a drunk and a roisterer, how different was the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, who was a vegetarian and pacifist, and recommended (although did not practice) celibacy? "The Last Station" focuses also on his wife, Sofya, who after bearing his 13 children thought him a late arrival to celibacy and accused him of confusing himself with Christ. Yet it's because of the writing of Joyce and Tolstoy that we know about their wives at all. Well, the same is true of George Eliot's husband...
Roger Ebert's complete review is here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Jamaica Kincaid Talk

Jamaica Kincaid reading:

A reading by Jamaica Kincaid from Heyman Center for the Humanities on Vimeo.

Claremont Student Comments

Rate my Professors site provides feedback to students and professors...is it fair? Is it welcome?

1/16/12LIT099Average Quality 2.5




Rater Interest4

"I took a creative writing class with her. She is a wonderful, at times nutty woman. Her lectures (often meandering stories with value) are wholly worthwhile. If you aren't drawn to writing or intent on developing your own voice, this isn't the class for you."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Jamaica Kincaid Event

An Evening with Jamaica Kincaid (Blog Repost)

University of Southern California

Monday, March 19, 2012 : 7:00pm to 9:00pm
University Park Campus
University Club
Banquet Room

Join the Master of Professional Writing Program for an evening of readings and conversation with Jamaica Kincaid, the award-winning author of Annie John and Lucy.
JAMAICA KINCAID-- novelist, essayist, travel writer, memoirist

Jamaica Kincaid is the author of a dozen books of literary nonfiction and fiction, including: Mr. Potter; My Brother; Autobiography of My Mother; Lucy; Annie John; and At The Bottom of the River. Her forthcoming novel See Now Then will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2012. Her work has been translated into Chinese, Dutch, German, Italian, Hebrew, and many other languages. Her influence as a writer is of extraordinary breadth and reach. “Kincaid is probably the most important West Indian woman writing today,” according to Frank Birbalisingh (Contemporary African American Novelists). Kincaid grew up in Antigua and came of age as writer in New York. Themes of gender, colonialism, and class all inform her writing. Her work is highly lyrical as well as sharp and un-sentimental, a combination that has made her one of the most interesting writers of our time. Kincaid’s honors include memberships in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Prix Femina Etranger (France) along with eleven honorary degrees. For over twenty years Kincaid was a staff writer at The New Yorker, where her legendary short prose texts for “The Talk of The Town” later appeared as the collected volume Talk Stories. Kincaid is currently on leave from Harvard University, where she has taught since 1992 in African American Studies and in the Department of English. She is currently the Josephine Olp Weeks Chair and Professor of Literature at Claremont McKenna College.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wordpress Reaction to DNA Interview

Wordpress reaction to interview @gisforgrace.wordpress.com
FEBRUARY 16, 2012

I’m still chewing on that part about happiness not being a natural state; but in my first reading of the interview, I felt relieved.  I was comforted by Kincaid’s very frank acceptance of unhappiness and pessimism.  I’ve battled with my own melancholic demeanor and never thought to accept it; the best I’ve done was to try to rationalize it.  My winning rationale, thus far, is that my demeanor is rooted in some very odd behavior from my childhood.

The author is NinaG: About
This is a ‘personal’ blog.  It’s about me and what interests me.  This is why I started this blog.
NinaG has been my internet moniker for some time now.  Nina is my first name, which means Grace; that’s where the ‘G’ comes from.
I’m young but throughout my life thus far, I’ve been a writer, a reader (boy, if I could get paid to read), a statistician, and a student of anthropology and of mathematics.
Creative non-fiction is my favorite genre.
I enjoy reading works by black women.
I like using my hands to make things.
If you’ve never met a rhythm-less dancer – hello!  I mean I really love [to] dance.
I like to write poetry with a little bit of humor.
I think this is a fairly good description of me but this entire blog is about me, so check out the other pages and posts!

Jamaica Kincaid Interview

DNA photo

Considering the abuse you faced in your childhood, how important is conflict in the life of a writer?
I don’t know what’s important. I think each individual must have something that’s important to them. Perhaps the absence of conflict makes one a writer. Perhaps if I hadn’t had conflict in my life, I might have been a better writer, I don’t know. But my childhood in Antigua has influenced my work.

Do you regret never having had a formal education?
If I had had a formal education, I wouldn’t have been a writer at all. I might have become a scholar. If I had a proper training, a doctorate, say, I wouldn’t have become an artist.

Have you come to terms with the abuse you faced as a child and all the opportunities you were denied?
No. I still think, naturally, that I would want to be a scholar. But I love my life. I don’t have any problems with it. I don’t want to be anything else because I am what I am. But I still wish I had gone to college and sat around and studied Shakespeare and written some little thing about Shakespeare that no one would read. I love scholars. I think it’s the most wonderful thing — to be someone who studies a text and writes obscure things about it.

Do you consider yourself a pessimist or a realist?
I think I consider myself a pessimist. Which isn’t to say that I give up, but I think ‘Oh, it won’t work out’, but then I do it anyway. I don’t know if that’s a pessimist, but I feel I am a pessimist. It doesn’t stop me, but I am a pessimist. I didn’t think I would have success as a writer, but it didn’t stop me.

Does being pessimistic help you as a writer? How important is it to be happy?
I don’t know that there are any happy writers. But I don’t know that there is any happy person either. A happy person, to me, would seem to have the unique ability to shut out unpleasantness of life. I think happiness is something you run into from time to time. That’s why people take drugs and such. Happiness is not a natural state. If it were a natural state, there would be no word for it. You’d just sort of bump into it in the dark.

You said that you start writing stories knowing how they will end and that life is like that. When you moved to America, did you know how your story would end?
No. I thought I would be a miserable person for the rest of my life. I was very miserable when I first got to America because I was sent away from my home, my family. I was all alone. I didn’t know it would be possible to have the life I have, which is a relatively good life.

What do you like doing more? Writing or gardening?
I love reading more than I like writing. Most of all I love to read, and when I’ve satisfied my reading impulse, then I write. Writing is the second thing that I like to do best. Gardening is a form of reading. So is actually cooking.

What would you be if you weren’t a writer?
Probably someone who’s mad, standing in the corner of the street hectoring passersby to do the right thing. I’d probably be a mad prophet that nobody listens to.

There are no happy writers: Novelist Jamaica Kincaid
Published: Tuesday, Jan 24, 2012, 11:00 IST
By Geetanjali Jhala | Place: Jaipur | Agency: DNA

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Poet Influenced by Jamaica Kincaid

Photo by Annie Adams

Interview with Poet Dan Chiasson in BU Today (complete interview):At Harvard, it was Jamaica Kincaid, my dear friend and our older son’s godmother, who most inspired me to be a writer: her uncompromising idea that writers tell the truth, plain and simple, along with her wild mind and sense of humor.

Jamaica Kincaid in India

The year was 1973. 24-year old Elaine Cynthia Potter Richardson was in the midst of a personal conflict. Fearing her family’s disapproval of her desire to become a writer, she decided to acquire a new identity. Elaine renamed herself Jamaica Kincaid.

Through her stories since then, Kincaid, now 63, has given the world a window to look at many conflicts in the lives of people. Inadvertently, her writings have also thrown an oblique light on her native Antigua, which isn’t a conflict zone like West Asia but has fostered many instances of discrimination. It was the result of one such oppression – by her family incidentally, that packed her off to the US as a servant – which prompted Elaine to fly away to freedom, and to change her name.

From an article by Archana Khare Ghose for The Times of India
Re-posted in Repeating Islands blog

Sharon Watts Portrait of Jamaica Kincaid

Sharon Watts WordPress blog