Shocked to read about Edward Kamau Brathwaite's problems in Barbados.

Went to see Derek Walcott, Toni Morrison and Wole Soyinka read in Cambridge last night. We arrived late and missed Nadine Gordimer's portion. Arrived as Walcott was introducing a section of his stage version of The Odyssey, referring to Soyinka's (and Odysseus's) explicit stance against fascism. He praised Soyinka's willingness to dissent, implying a poet's place will always be versus fascism. Read a fragment of Nobody's entrapment, escape and revenge against the cyclops. That fear be discarded or ignored (for the duration of the song at least).

It seems useless to read Brathwaite and Walcott against each other (one the quietist anglophile, the other a revolutionary, an overused opposition). Both coincide in their repeated use of Native American symbology as central in writing from/for the Caribbean.

Morrison read from the opening section of her recent novel Love. She used her narrator's ancient voice to comment on a seaside town or suburb near Los Angeles, a nostalgic yet detached lament about a neighborhood's changes. Although we were standing on a balcony behind the readers, with barely a view of the stage, Morrison's voice sustained her prose magnificently. Homi Bhabha introduced her with a lengthy and appreciative comment on her fiction's role as a channel for certain semi-invisible American experiences.

No comments: