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
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