Caribbean Writer Series: Dialogues on Identity, Immigration, and Art

October 1, 2013


Series of free, public talks continues Monday, Oct. 28


Janelle Gordon '05 Presents "I & I Reflections"


TACOMA, Wash. –Beginning this September, a sparkling selection of writers of Caribbean descent will be in Tacoma to engage the community in conversations about the history, culture, and literature of the West Indies region.

With topics such as immigration and mixed-race identity now being debated at American kitchen tables, the visits promise to inject some lively, firsthand perspectives into these discussions. The writers come from Haiti, Trinidad, Jamaica, and the Virgin Islands—areas that have each had unique encounters with colonialism, slavery, tourism, and multiculturalism.

The yearlong series, The Caribbean Writer: Identity, Immigration, and Art, presented by University of Puget Sound’s African American Studies program, will offer public talks that are free and open to all.

Speakers will include Tiphanie Yanique, author and professor at The New School in New York City; Janelle Gordon ’05, Puget Sound alumna, poet, and mixed media artist; Gregory Wilson, poet and educator in Jamaica and the Bahamas; Myriam Chancy, writer and professor at University of Cincinnati; and Elizabeth Nunez, author and professor at Hunter College, the City University of New York.

The Caribbean visitors’ writing explores themes often influenced by African, European, and indigenous cultures, and at times makes use of creole or the vernacular language that distinguishes West Indies literature. The first three talks are outlined below. 

Monday, Sept. 16, 6:30–8 p.m. “Those Who Wait for Us,” by Tiphanie Yanique
Rasmussen Rotunda, Wheelock Student Center. Free admission.

Tiphanie Yanique is the author of the collection of short stories, How to Escape from a Leper Colony (Graywolf Press, 2010) and I am the Virgin Islands, a poem and collection of collages (Little Bell Caribbean, 2012). Yanique has won the 2011 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Boston Review’s Annual Short Story Contest, and The Rona Jaffe Foundation writing award, among other recognitions. She has been listed as one of the 16 cultural figures to watch out for by The Boston Globe and as one of the “5 Under 35” next-generation fiction writers by the National Book Foundation (2010). Her writing has been published in the book Best African American Fiction, The Wall Street Journal, American Short Fiction magazine, and elsewhere. Yanique is from the Virgin Islands and is a professor in the Master of Fine Arts program at The New School in New York City.

Monday, Oct. 28, 6:30–8 p.m. “I & I Reflections: A Poetic Exploration of Spiritual, Cultural, and Sexual Identities,” by Janelle Gordon ’05
Rasmussen Rotunda, Wheelock Student Center. Free admission.

Janelle Gordon is a Jamaican native who is a poet, performance artist, painter, designer, and photographer, as well as a Puget Sound alumna. In her work as a mixed media artist, she promotes art as an experience and describes her style as “freestyle.” Gordon is the author of the poetry chapbook i&i Reflections (2013), which explores issues of cultural, spiritual, and sexual identities. She has produced and participated in numerous art and fashion shows including Spectrum of Colors, which was composed of exhibits exploring the combination of writing and painting. Gordon is co-founder of JFearon art and design company and artistic director of kbphotoart.com studio.

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 5:30–7 p.m. “Dead Portraits in a Living Room: Exploring Cultural Unity in the Caribbean and Central America,” by Gregory Wilson
Rasmussen Rotunda, Wheelock Student Center. Free admission.

Gregory Wilson is a poet and educator who grew up in Jamaica and graduated from The University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica. He has taught writing and literature to hundreds of children throughout Jamaica and the Bahamas and has performed his work internationally. Wilson is the author of Dead Portraits in a Living Room (Xlibris, 2011), a collection of poems exploring the intersection of diverse cultures using a river and meeting of rivers as a metaphor. His writing has been honored by the Famous Poet’s Society, and he has been recognized professionally by the Bahamas Union of Teachers.

The Caribbean Writer series is sponsored by the Chism Lecture in Humanities and Arts, which is supported by an endowment from Seattle businesswoman Catharine Gould Chism.

For directions and a map of the campus:www.pugetsound.edu/directions
For accessibility information please contact accessibility@pugetsound.edu or 253.879.3236

Press photos of the three speakers can be downloaded from: www.pugetsound.edu/pressphotos
Photos on page: Top right: Janelle Gordon '05; Above left: Tiphanie Yanique, by Moses Djeli; Above right: Gregory Wilson.

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