Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Hybrid Language & Sexuality - A Valuable Literary Week in Leicester

I have had a marvellous week in Leicester, in the company of two exquisite novelists , Kerry Young from Leicester discussing her Costa nominated book Pao published by Bloomsbury . Rozena Maart from SA, her book Rosa's District Six - published by Tsar. With Kerry I questioned her at an event she was leading, at De Montfort University Cultural Exchanges, about the hybrid language and voice of her main character , a Jamaican Chinese man living in post war Jamaica, as well editorial processes and the desire to write in the first place. She explained her need to evoke the music of Jamaican Patwa and yet make it readable, for a mainstream market. A formidable achievement and I can confirm this from my early reading of her book. This being of interest to me as I am creating language and voice for my diva character Solitaire, who is from Leicester using Jamaican Patwa, peppered with other street argot. Kerry, explains, the editorial processes were valuable, if challenging and she goes on to say, after her academic and social policy achievements, she had always wanted to write a novel and be published by a prestigious publisher . Her route to being published is telling , in that she was linked via a Black Women's Group of Novelists in London. To the UK's first Black woman Literary Agent and was her very first client - well the rest they say is herstory....We have agreed to keep in touch, both being Members of the Society of Authors !

Rozena Maart dined heartily on soul food (ground nut chicken stew with smoked shrimp rice -mmm...delicious) at my house , and shared fascinating stories of her life in SA during and after Apartheid. Her utter disbelief , when she is often confronted on her travels in academic circles , with attitudes that negate a sexual life of oppressed Black people, during liberation struggles . As well as her humor, in relating wonderful, often amusing family stories in South Africa . Touching also, on some of the exciting poets and artists in SA. e.g Lebo Mashile. Together with the linguistic adaptions of her multi-ethnic , multi tribal, Gender Studies Students at Kwazulu Natal University - where she is the Head of the Department . Her book in particular, charts the pernicious racist context of the apartheid era , yet affirms , the strength of women in families , the community connectedness and their sexual exploits ! We also discussed theatre , in particular the work of Augustos Baol Theatre of the Oppressed ) and Antoin Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty . The following day , as the headliner Rozena read selected extracts from her novel , that intimately described day to day lives of Black women in District 6 SA. A culturally rich busy, former slave quarter area very poor , where later its people were forcibly removed from . This reading was at the increasingly popular, monthly Pinggg...k! -billed as the Metro Sexuality of Verse . A Poetry Spoken Word Night, hosted by poet Bubba aka Dr Robert Bennett , that is warm friendly, quite alternative, based at the Red Tent (named after the best seller book !) Leicester. The energy and commitment these two writers displayed in their writing and the subjects, they felt passionate about - I found it wholly inspiring . It has invigorated my own thinking and approach, to my own writing in myriad ways.
Simply... wonderful !!!!

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