Thursday, May 07, 2009


Housing Works, Continued

It's been nearly a week since the reading, "Powerful Women," which Maud Newton arranged at Housing Works in NYC. I read a snippet from my book, Stephanie Keith showed off some visceral and impressive pictures of a voodoo priestess in Brooklyn named Marie Carmel, and Marlon James read from his novel The Book of Night Women, which you know I love.

It was Maud who came up with the theme for our reading. My novel concerns three generations of women in Japan and America, one of whom believes that the most important thing a woman can do, is to develop her "talent" as a source of power. Stephanie's photos demonstrate the real power that a voodoo priestess holds in her community. And James' book tells the story of a group of female plantation slaves on Jamaica who have formed a secret society to overthrow their masters. Their tools--reading, writing and a girl named Lilith.

Maud also put together a quiz for audience members to answer. The winner, Fikriyyah George, will get a copy of Marlon's book and mine when it is finally ready.

We each presented/read one at a time. I went first with a section I'd chosen from my book. It does take some work to find what you should read out-loud--a selection can't be too long, and you definitely want to try to find some kind of narrative arc. This can be tricky.

I could look at Stephanie's photos again and again. There was a great deal of fascinating visual information packed into each of her slides.

Marlon is a magnetic reader, and I enjoyed hearing his book through his voice. I think we are pretty much friends now, and I hope to see him later this year.

Many thanks to all my friends who came to hear me read. Here are my mother and my friend Mary Ann. Thanks to Maud for the opportunity. I've been asked to read at the Brooklyn Book Festival later this year; now I know how much fun it is to read, and that I can do it, and I'm really looking forward to sharing my work with more people.

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