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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Back From Calabash

Arrived back to a balmy Western Mass yesterday. I had a very good time at the Calabash Literary Festival. It was a wild trip to have this thing dropped in my lap one morning and then to watch it actually happen. It wasn't an event I could've imagined ahead of time. It happened at Treasure Beach, a fairly out of the way, sleepy-seeming area of Jamaica. But they packed people in like crazy over the weekend. The first night as I watched them set up thousands of chairs in the main pavilion I couldn't imagine who was going to fill them all. But the folks came. Locals, Jamaican's from across the island, young people, tourists: all mixed together. A lot of them came for the music and dancing that kicked off every night, but many of the readings had a couple thousand people in attendance. It was definitely the largest live audience I've ever read to before. I was up there with Elizabeth Nunez and MG Vassanji, a humbling experience. But they were nice to me.

Performances of particular note... Sonia Sanchez was amazing. Her reading was so emotionally, revealing, funny and sad all at once. She has a real power to touch places most people probably don't want touched, but she does it with enough compassion that she's hard to refuse. She read with Martin Espada, who was also great, far-ranging in his poetry and strong of rhythm and cadence and Puerto Rican character.

The actor Delroy Lindo (Clockers, Domino, Get Shorty, Malcolm X, etc) read a rather long story by Colin Channer. It went on for about an hour and a half, but Delroy's reading was so engaging that I barely noticed the passing time. He read the entire thing with a Jamaican accent which sounded perfect to my ears and seemed to work for the audience too.

There was decidely a lot of just hanging out time, eating and drinking, sweating. Lots of sweating. Had a good time just meeting and talking to people also. Diana Evans, Marlon James, Lolita Hernandez and Geoff Dyer come to mind.

Anyway, got back to the family and very happy about it. Also just got the first chunk of copyedited manuscript back from my editor, Gerry Howard. So there's work to be done. I'm at it.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Calabash International Literary Festival

I woke on Mother’s Day to an email from the Jamaica. Apparently, the folks at the Calabash Festival (lead by author Colin Channer) wanted to know if I was up to filling in for an author who couldn’t make it to the festival. What does this entail, I wondered? Well, turns out to be an expense-paid five day trip to Jamaica, to hang out with writers from around the world (many of them from Caribbean, Latino and African roots), to eat lovely food and dance to great music and bask in the sun. Oh, yeah, and also read and talk literature with what I hear is an enthusiastic audience.

I didn’t have to think about it long. I’m going. So if you happen to have the weekend of May 27-28th free consider a quick trip to Jamaica. Events are free, I think, and open to the public. I have the feeling it’s going to be a very good time.

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Going to Colorado…

Just came to terms with Colorado College. I'm going to be their visiting writer for the 2006/2007 school year. I'm psyched. I taught one course there before and quite liked it. Good students, the kind that challenge a teacher and keep it interesting. And I'm happy about being at the edge of the Rockies. I've been feeling a need for some high altitude air. We're not planning on leaving Western Mass for good, of course. We own a home there and feel pretty settled in the place, but we're trying to keep things interested.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Girl Cat Snoozing

The Durham family has a new blog set up. It’s called Girl Cat Snoozing. My daughter choose the name. It’s just family, home schooling, foster kitten type of stuff - all the important, non-literary things in my family's life.