Monday, May 29, 2017


Back to Copley Square for the American Literature Association and, as in the past, the high point was the awards reception sponsored by the African American Literature and Culture Society.  Because I was speaking on two panels and chairing two others, I wasn't able to get to all of the AALCS sessions, let alone all the poetry sessions, but I still came away with a lot of notes and leads scrawled on my tablet.

, and then

The Toni Morrison and Paul Laurence Dunbar Societies again joined with us and presented their awards for scholarship on Morrison and Dunbar.

This year's AALCS award recipients were Cheryl Wall, for the first annual Octavia Butler Award, Henry Louis Gates, for the Darwin Turner Award, and Jamaica Kincaid, for the Stephen Henderson Award. Rather than give the usual thank you speech (though he did offer thanks), Gates gave a heartfelt overview of the life and work of Darwin Turner, a real pioneer in the field from whom all of us have learned.  It was my good fortune to introduce Jamaica Kincaid, who I had also heard read recently at CLA.  I was relieved that we had both managed to find our way back from Missouri,  Kincaid gave a reading from the novel See Now Then, and then generously spent considerable time visiting with the audience and signing books.

The Amiri Baraka Society presented two vital sessions, the first on lesser known works and the second a round table on music in the Black Arts era.

Aldon Nielsen, Jean-Philippe Marcoux, Askia Muhammad Toure and Emili Lordi on the music panel.

Carla Harryman at work, as always.

Friday, April 21, 2017

NGUGI wa THIONG'O at Penn State

Just back after dropping Ngugi wa Thiong'o at the airport for his trip back to Irvine.

His visit started off with a lunch time discussion centered in his book Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing, which brought together his Wellek lectures.

PSU has a history with Ngugi.  Back in '94, my poet/friend Charles Cantalupo organized a conference on Ngugi's work at our Berks campus. And you can find video of Charles's conversation with Ngugi in 2015 here: Cantalupo and Ngugi in conversation

This year's visit was under the auspices of the Migration Studies Project.  The central event was a public lecture, "Language, Literature and the Globalectic Imagination." Ngugi had worked last minute citations to Penn State people into his lecture, giving a sense of how much his thought is still in progress and evolving daily.

Things wound up today with a great lunch conversation with Professor Ngugi, grad students Derek Gideon and Brandon Erby, and recent PhDs Susan Weeber and Laura Vrana.