Sunday, October 18, 2015

Exploring the Creative Landscape & No Justice in Georgia

Author, playwright and poet Joyce Carol Oates
Last Thursday evening I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture on the mysterious power of creativity given by author Joyce Carol Oates.

She discussed writing, took time to answer some questions from the audience, and also read a few brief selections from her latest book, The Lost Landscape: A Writer's Coming of Age; a memoir that traces the evolution of her own creative journey and the impact of the experiences of her childhood in a rural farming town in upstate New York on her work.

The Princeton, New Jersey resident has been out and about lately promoting the book and she did an interesting interview on NPR's Morning Edition recently if you've got a few minutes to listen.
It's been a few days since I've posted a blog here because I've been feeling creatively introspective since her lecture.

Obviously there have been some things I wanted to blog about over the past few days.

Matthew Ajibade, another victim of police brutality
Like a Chatham County Superior Court jury acquitting three former Georgia sheriff's deputies of involuntary manslaughter charges on Friday in the death of 22-year old college student Matthew Ajibade (pictured left); who died in custody on New Years day after being handcuffed to a restraining chair in a holding cell and repeatedly shocked in his genitals with a taser gun.

By any reasonable definition that's torture, and even though the coroner ruled that Ajibade died of "blunt force trauma" to the head caused by the deputies kicking and punching him the head, the jury decided acquit to Jason Kenny, Gregory Brown and Maxine Evans of any manslaughter charges.

When the news of the acquittal broke on Friday my mind was elsewhere the day after experiencing Ms. Oates' calm demeanor, quiet intelligence, humility and wit in person.

Hearing her speak had a tremendous impact on me as a writer and prompted me to shift my creative focus and write in my journal, reexamine some non-fiction projects that I've been working on, and to also begin to outline a fiction piece based on a childhood experience that I've wanted to explore for years.

Ms. Oates is the prolific author of over 50 books and the discipline she brings to her craft, particularly her daily habit of writing for between five to eight hours a day, has caused me to reexamine my own commitment to my writing.

'The Nine Muses' by Carlos Dorrien at Grounds for Sculpture
The reading and lecture last Thursday was held in the spacious east gallery on the grounds of Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey.

Given the focus of many of my blog entries, I was conscious of being the only African-American in the crowd of about 200 people.

But I was much more aware of feeling a sense of intellectual kinship with those who'd paid $20 to hear one of the most important literary figures in America talk about writing and how her life experiences have shaped her as an artist.

It's also prompted me go back and read some of her early works too.

I ordered her novel 'Them' from and am looking forward to receiving it on Tuesday.

Published in 1969, it won the 1970 National Book Award for fiction and the author herself recommended it as one her books that offer the best insight into her writing.

So as I prepare to enjoy a quiet evening after a truly spectacular fall Sunday, I feel rested and re-energized creatively, spiritually and physically as I savor the last few hours of the weekend before facing another busy week. 

Inspired by the words of a literary genius.


Kelly Spencer said...

I think landscape is something more than just scenery, it’s the interaction between the people and place. It also encourages physical outdoor activity and an antidote to stress to support our health and well-being.
Deerfield Landscaping

Hazel Smith said...

A pleasant home from the street with manicured gardens and green landscaping will show buyers that the owners have taken pride in their home and it will certainly influence the sale price.
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