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Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (Toni Morrison Lecture)by Edwidge Danticat
Synopses & Reviews
"Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I've always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them."--Create Dangerously
In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and exile, examining what it means to be an immigrant artist from a country in crisis. Inspired by Albert Camus' lecture, "Create Dangerously," and combining memoir and essay, Danticat tells the stories of artists, including herself, who create despite, or because of, the horrors that drove them from their homelands and that continue to haunt them. Danticat eulogizes an aunt who guarded her family's homestead in the Haitian countryside, a cousin who died of AIDS while living in Miami as an undocumented alien, and a renowned Haitian radio journalist whose political assassination shocked the world. Danticat writes about the Haitian novelists she first read as a girl at the Brooklyn Public Library, a woman mutilated in a machete attack who became a public witness against torture, and the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and other artists of Haitian descent. Danticat also suggests that the aftermaths of natural disasters in Haiti and the United States reveal that the countries are not as different as many Americans might like to believe.
Create Dangerously is an eloquent and moving expression of Danticat's belief that immigrant artists are obliged to bear witness when their countries of origin are suffering from violence, oppression, poverty, and tragedy.
"'In order to shield our shattered collective psyche from a long history of setbacks and disillusionment... we cultivate communal and historical amnesia...,' writes novelist Danticat in this lean collection of jaw-breaking horrors side by side with luminous insights. This volume, which grows out of the Toni Morrison lecture series at Princeton, is uneven and inorganic in patches. But in Danticat's many remarkable stories and pensÃ©es from the gut, one locates the inimitable power of truth. Authorship becomes an act of subversion when one's words might be read and acted on by someone risking his or her life if only to read them. Danticat reminds us that, in a cruel twist of fate, her native Haiti, earthquake-and-poverty-torn, gained independence, in a bloody slave uprising, not long after the U.S. did: our ties, usually unexamined, run painfully deep. Whether eulogizing her family, writing on leading journalist Jean Dominique's assassination and exiled author Marie Vieux-Chauvet, or discussing 'Madison Avenue Primitive' Jean-Michel Basquiat, Danticat documents what it means for an immigrant writer to create dangerously for immigrant readers who read dangerously, awakened and no longer participants in a culture of 'historical amnesia.' (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Danticat's message is a whisper in a hushed room." --Kristin Thiel, The Oregonian
"Whether the topic is Haiti's war of independence, 9/11, the artist, musician and actor Jean-Michel Basquiat, the January earthquake and its aftermath, Danticat writes with a compassionate insight but without a trace of sentimentality. Her prose is energetic, her vision is clear, the tragedies seemingly speaking for themselves." --Betsy Willeford, The Miami Herald
"Pick up Danticat's book and start reading. Its magic will leave time and space suspended around you. ''All artists, writers among them, have several stories one might call them creation myths that haunt and obsess them,'' Danticat writes in her opening essay. With those words, the central theme for this book is embedded deeply within the reader's mind, never to leave." ---The Canberra Times
"It’s a collection of essays that realign your thinking about what it means to write about actual people, actual history – and recent history in particular. Danticat is always convincing, always clear, but here she hits some very high notes and gets at questions no one else has answered adequately or at all." --Dave Eggers, Financial Times
Ted Kooser sees a writers workbooks as the stepping-stones on which a poet makes his way across the stream of experience toward a poem. Because those wobbly stones are only inches above the quotidian rush, whats jotted there has an immediacy that is intimate and close to life.
Kooser, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a former U.S. poet laureate, has filled scores of workbooks. The Wheeling Year offers a sequence of contemplative prose observations about nature, place, and time arranged according to the calendar year.
Written by one of Americas most beloved poets, this book is published in the year in which Kooser turns seventy-five, with sixty years of workbooks stretching behind him.
In 2002, after living ten years in Asia, American poet and musician Scott Ezell used his advance from a local record company to move to Dulan, on Taiwanand#8217;s remote Pacific coast. He fell in with the Open Circle Tribe, a loose confederation of aboriginal woodcarvers, painters, and musicians who lived on the beach and cultivated a living connection with their indigenous heritage. Most members of the Open Circle Tribe belong to the Amis tribe, which is descended from Austronesian peoples that migrated from China thousands of years ago. As a and#8220;nonstateand#8221; people navigating the fraught politics of contemporary Taiwan, the Amis of the Open Circle Tribe exhibit, for Ezell, the best characteristics of life at the margins, striving to create art and to live autonomous, unorthodox lives.
In Dulan, Ezell joined song circles and was invited on an extended hunting expedition; he weathered typhoons, had love affairs, and lost close friends. In A Far Corner Ezell draws on these experiences to explore issues on a more global scale, including the multiethnic nature of modern society, the geopolitical relationship between the United States, Taiwan, and China, and the impact of environmental degradation on indigenous populations. The result is a beautifully crafted and personal evocation of a sophisticated culture that is almost entirely unknown to Western readers.
About the Author
Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and moved to the United States when she was twelve. She is the author of two novels, two collections of stories, two books for young adults, and two nonfiction books, one of which, "Brother, I'm Dying", was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. In 2009, she received a MacArthur Fellowship.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1: Create Dangerously: Th e Immigrant Artist at Work 1
CHAPTER 2: Walk Straight 21
CHAPTER 3: I Am Not a Journalist 41
CHAPTER 4: Daughters of Memory 59
CHAPTER 5: I Speak Out 73
CHAPTER 6: The Other Side of the Water 87
CHAPTER 7: Bicentennial 97
CHAPTER 8: Another Country 107
CHAPTER 9: Flying Home 115
CHAPTER 10: Welcoming Ghosts 127
CHAPTER 11: Acheiropoietos 137
CHAPTER 12: Our Guernica 153
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