Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 5th 2015 Contents 14 UWI TODAY -- SUNDAY 5TH JULY, 2015
JA: So what does it mean to be the Department of
Literary, Cultural and Communication Studies'
KL: It means meeting many interesting students and
discovering what I would call, the future of Caribbean
Literature. I give advice bearing in mind, Professor
Funso Aiyejina does an absolutely brilliant job of this
already in the programme. So what I bring, is the
experience of being a published author. I look at the
writers in the MFA programme here through a kind
of 'future lter' where I think in ten years, I'm going to
be bumping into some of them at literary festivals or
be excitedly buying their books.
JA: How to you carve out a space to write?
KL: We keep talking about wanting to hear all voices and
hearing all stories, but we forget that to be able to nd
the space and time to write a story requires privilege.
at's why I'm thrilled about literary festivals like Bocas.
We have literary awards in the Caribbean that give you
money. Do you know how rare that is? Usually you
get a shiny statue, some prestige and a little bump in
the sale of your books - if you're lucky. But in terms of
sheer usefulness, that Frank Collymore award? Coming
at a time when the whole country was in economic
recession and no research projects were available -- it
enabled me to go to my father and say: Yes I just nished
my PhD in Sociology of Religions, but I've received this
opportunity that will give me my rst amount of cash
for the year. I think I should pursue it and see where
it could go. at nancial base enabled him as a West
Indian parent, to support me and trust me.
I am constantly inspired by writers of other countries,
but I also know what it's like to be grounded in
Caribbean Literature. When I did CXC in school, one
of the books I studied was Edgar Mittelholzer - My
Bones and My Flute, a horror story set in Guyana!
When people come to me and say that Caribbean Sci-Fi
doesn't exist, I say, you fool. You didn't have the right
JA: Given your academic background, how did you
decide to start writing ction?
KL: I used to write in school, but I never had the guts to
submit, but what I got right is that I knew I had to
live a little so I would have something to write about.
had something to draw on that helped me produce
a textured and complex world with multiple voices.
e thing that helped me the most was when I started
my PhD at Cave Hill. I took a course on how to write
academic essays in undergrad, so I knew how to write
in a focused and structured way. en by postgrad,
you're writing about forty thousand words and that's
an amazing incubator for the development of a novel
and that's what helped me unlock the writer within.
JA: How do you see Caribbean speculative ction in
conversation with what's happening globally?
KL: From the mundane to the mythic, I ask myself what are
our traditions in the West Indies? I know we are ooded
by La Diablesse and Soucoyant and that's ok, but also
think about the future. What's going to happen with
our solar power, water level etc.? ese are things we
could examine. Tobias Buckell's Hurricane Fever is a
good example of this. I want there to be the full gamut of
Caribbean literature. We have our Nobel Prize winners
and that's beautiful, but I want mediocre writers too.
We inherit other people's throwaway media, why not
ours? I also want to see more of the African and Indian
Commonwealth literature come to the fore as well as
translated works. People always think you nurture
Caribbean literature by becoming insular and that's
actually the opposite of what I'm saying. I'm saying,
there's a lot of amazing work out there and we need to
support each other.
JA: Tell us about your new book, The Galaxy Game.
KL: Every book I write is di erent and that's not the popular
thing to do. Redemption is fantasy. Galaxy Game is a
follow-up from e Best of All Possible Worlds (Boapw)
so it's Sci-Fi. You will appreciate the Galaxy Game more
if you read Boapw rst. Galaxy Game is a road trip to
a foreign planet that has many di erent societies and
cultures. I told this story from the point of view of
someone who began on the realm of Boapw and we
spring o of that. e joy of Galaxy Game is I wanted
it to feel as if you were properly in a new place, but still
one that knew fully how to function.
JA: What is next for you?
KL: I will be in Trinidad until the end of August. e
audiobook of the Galaxy Game is coming out soon. I'll
also be doing more research work. I am also working on
a manuscript that's a sequel to Redemption -- it's getting
closer and closer to completion. It is one of those works
that you start and you realise you have a lot of work to
do on it and you let it take it's time.
STRANGER than FICTION
Karen Lord dispels Caribbean Speculative Fiction myths
BY JEANETTE AWAI
WRITER IN RESIDENCE
Jeanette Awai is a freelance writer and member of sta at e UWI's Marketing and Communications Department.
In spaces where reality o en plays out like science ction, it is easy to dismiss 'Caribbean speculative ction' as a pop-culture fad in Caribbean storytelling; but ction author and economics
researcher, Dr. Karen Lord sets that wayward thought straight. e writer-in-residence of the Department of Literary, Cultural and Communication Studies, featured guest speaker for this
year's Campus Literature Week and UWI Cave Hill alumna sat down with UWI Today to speak about her genre, what it means to be a writer and how we can nurture the next wave of
writers currently canvasing e UWI St. Augustine campus.
think you nurture
by becoming insular
and that's actually
the opposite of what
Dr. Karen Lord
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