ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Being both realist and dreamer, Lamming recognized that these qualities of
openness, trust and candour had never been permitted existence in a colonial
situation, and showed how secrecy and mistrust could generate social and
political catastrophe. Lamming has since then remained a resolute, eloquent and
probably sad prophet against racism in Caribbean politics; a warner, even in the
face of past disasters and present disintegration.
Books by George Lamming
The Pleasure of Exile (1960) / Conversations II: Western Education and the Caribbean Intellectual (2000) / Black World (March 1973)
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George Lamming and New World Imagination
A Compilation by Rudolph Lewis
George LammingThe depths of Lamming’s understanding of social, political and historical issues are soon revealed in his first four novels: In the Castle of My Skin (1953), The Emigrants (1954), Of Age and Innocence (1958) and Season of Adventure, (1960). In the Castle of My Skin presents the plantation as economic, social and psychic structure, locating the Barbadian village in its erased history of feudal serfdom, and recognizing the ambiguity of colonial education as an agency of both social emancipation and mental re-enslavement. Lamming’s novels and essays for three decades afterwards would mercilessly scrutinize the new class of intellectual proprietors and overseers produced by that education. As the idea of a West Indian Federation took shape in the mid-1950’s, Lamming in 1955 dreamed up the concept of the “New World of the Caribbean”, and who together with Martin Carter, Wilson Harris, Arthur Seymour and other writers, celebrated this concept of a new world in four epic radio programmes of readings, in which Caribbean journeys of discovery, migration, arrival, return and reconstruction are recognized as part of the same process of becoming. He then infused his next two novels with this spirit of regionalism, by creating in his imaginary nation of San Cristobal, a composite Caribbean state. In Season of Adventure, San Cristobal combines the cultural features of Trinidad, Haiti and Jamaica, while in Of Age and Innocence, San Cristobal is patterned on the histories and racially tinctured politics of Guyana and Trinidad, with their large African and Asian-ancestored populations. By means of these two novels Lamming holds out to the Caribbean alternative possibilities of redemption and catastrophe, cultural fusion and ethnic fission. Lamming divined that true political liberation in fragmented multiethnic colonies needed to be based on open dialogue, shared experience and communion both between and within ethnic groups; a communion itself that required trust, absolute candour and honesty between the leadership and populace on the one hand, and between the contesting communities in an ethnically diverse society. Being both realist and dreamer, Lamming recognized that these qualities of openness, trust and candour had never been permitted existence in a colonial situation, and showed how secrecy and mistrust could generate social and political catastrophe. Lamming has since then remained a resolute, eloquent and probably sad prophet against racism in Caribbean politics; a warner, even in the face of past disasters and present disintegration. Lamming has always written and spoken with a sense of mission. Speaking in 1970 on “The Social Role of Writers” he declared that:
The writer or artist is, in fact, a citizen and a worker; and his social role should be contained in the process of that work. The novelist or poet in such a society would be performing a social role of the greatest importance by writing the novels and poems which he feels he has to write and which bear witness to the experiences of that society at any or all of its levels. A social function has truly been fulfilled if such work helps to create an awareness of society which did not exist before; or to inform and enrich an awareness which was not yet deeply felt.
Speaking of his own sense of mission, Lamming defines himself in the same terms that he once used to define CLR James, as “a kind of evangelist. Im a preacher of some kind. I am a man bringing a message . I don’t know what you would make of it.” The novel, the essay, the interview, the conversation, the lecture, the great oration
these are simply the different structures through which Lamming brings his messages, be they affirmations or admonitions.Caricom
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I think I have only two more points to bring to you, and they are both from a Caribbean writer, George Lamming. And it is very fitting that I end with a Caribbean writer because, as you know, the Caribbean people have done as much as anyone else to advance the cause of African emancipation. I am going to give you two examples from the writings of that distinguished writer George Lamming of the kind of mentality which we should bring to the Seventh Pan-African Congress, and the discussion that I hope would begin at once, immediately after these ideas get a start.
Lamming is writing about a West Indian rank-and-filer, Powell. He is a thief, he is a murderer, he is a rapist. And Lamming writes in
Until the age of ten, Powell and I had lived together, equal in the affection of two mothers. Powell had made my dreams and I lived his passions. Identical in years and stage by stage, Powell and I were taught in the same primary school. And then the division came. I got a public scholarship which started my migration into another world, the world of the educated, the world of the elite. A world whose roots were the same, but whose style of living was entirely different from what my childhood knew. It earned me a privilege which now shut Powell and the whole village right out of my future.
I have lived as near to Powell as my skin to the hand it darkens, and yet I forgot the village as men forget a war, and attached myself to that new world which was so recent, and so slight, beside the weight of what had gone before. Instinctively, 1 attached myself to that new privilege and to this day despite all my efforts, I am not free from its embrace.
In other words, he left the ordinary society, and by means of the scholarship, he went up among the elite. I believe deep in my bones, that the mad impulse which drove Powell to his criminal defeat was largely my doing. I would not have this explained away by talk about environment, nor can I allow my own moral infirmity to be transferred to a foreign conscience labelled imperialism. I shall go beyond my grave, in the knowledge that I am responsible for what happened to my brothers.
We, the educated, are responsible for what happens to the people below. He goes on:
Powell still resides somewhere in my heart, with a dubious love, some strange nameless shadow of regret, and yet with the deepest, deepest nostalgia, for I have never felt myself to be an honest part of anything since the world of his childhood deserted me.
I don’t know anywhere, where any intellectual, any member of the intellectual elite, has taken upon himself the complete responsibility for what has happened to the people he has left behind him. The people will make their way. We who have had the advantages must recognize our responsibility. That is a Caribbean pronouncement and I am very proud of it. I know Lamming very well, and there are not many intellectuals who realise what they are doing and the social crimes they commit, who say: “I won a scholarship, I joined the elite and left my people behind, and I feel that that action on my part is responsible for what is happening to them.”
Now I must end in about five or six lines. Lamming has written a book called
, and it has two interesting passages. The longest part of the book is called the Middle Passage, and when you hear talk about the Middle Passage you at once think about Blacks being transported. In Lamming’s pages about the Middle Passage there isn’t one Black man. What Lamming is doing is analysing the white men who made the Middle Passage, and the critics, white and black, are very confused about it. They can say what they like, but for me this is one of the finest contemporary books I have read.
This Black writer is examining those who made the Middle Passagewe have enough of Black suffering and how they were treated on the trip, etc. Lamming says: “What about those men who were doing it?” And he gives examples of who and what they were, and why. Then at the end of the book, he describes a discussion among the wives of these men. The wives went out to meet them: they were the surgeon’s wife, the steward’s wife, the woman who was the leader.
The surgeon’s wife asks: “Why did we follow them here? These men are no good and yet we have followed them out here, why did we do that?” The steward’s wife says: “Yes, why follow them here?” And the lady of the house, who was in charge, says: “Because we are a future.” Because women are a future. . . . Today, Lamming says, today women represent something, are something, they are a future that men must know something about. In other words, what he is saying here is what he has been saying in all his books: that men constitute an elite in relation to women, and women have got a capacity, which men have got to learn.C.L.R. Kames Toward the 7th PAC
George Lammingborn 8 June 1927 Carrington Village, Barbados of mixed African and English parentageis a novelist and poet. After his mother married his stepfather, Lamming split his time between this birthplace and his stepfather’s home in St David’s Village. Lamming attended Roebuck Boys’ School and Combermere School on a scholarship. Encouraged by his teacher, Frank Collymore, Lamming found the world of books and started to write.
Before moving to England, he worked from 1946 to 1950 as a teacher at El Colegio de Venezuela, a boarding school for boys in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He then emigrated to England where, for a short time, he worked in a factory. In 1951 he became a broadcaster for the BBC Colonial Service. His writings were published in the Barbadian magazine Bim, edited by his teacher Frank Collymore, and the BBC’s Caribbean Voices radio series broadcast his poems and short prose. Lamming himself read poems on Caribbean Voices, including some by the young Derek Walcott.
He entered academia in 1967 as a writer-in-residence and lecturer in the Creative Arts Centre and Department of Education at the University of the West Indies, Kingston (196768). Since then, he has been a visiting professor in the USA at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Pennsylvania, and Brown University, and a lecturer in Denmark, Tanzania, and Australia.
In May 2011 the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) awarded him the first Caribbean Hibiscus Award in acknowledgement of his lifetime’s work. In April 2012, he was chair of the judges for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. He teaches at Brown University.wikipedia
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By George Lamming
Is main book at St. Martin Book Fair
GREAT BAY, St. Martin (June 2, 2009)The new book by illustrious Caribbean novelist/thinker George Lamming has just been published here, said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP). Sovereignty of the Imagination with its main essays Sovereignty of the Imagination and Language and the Politics of Ethnicity, is the third Conversations title by Lamming and the second in the series published in St. Martin by HNP.
The tight relationship between politics, knowledge, language, and the spaces of freedom in Lammings writings makes him one of the most important political novelists in Caribbean Literature, said Anthony Bogues, a political scientist at Brown University. Writer Fabian Badejo said that the Barbadian authors text is rich, elegant and intellectually seductive as ever; the thrust always towards a new Caribbean with the sovereign right to define its own reality and order its own priorities.
It is as if he were humming Bob Marleys Redemption Song as a dirge, then intoning it as an anthem of cultural sovereignty which [Lamming] describes as the free definition and articulation of the collective self, whatever the rigor of external constraints, said Badejo. For Lamming to publish a book of this quality in St. Martin, in the Caribbean, is also an investment in his belief and work, in the people and region where his lifes commitment abides, said Sample.
In the essay Language and the Politics of Ethnicity Lamming brings up a daring and widening definition of Caribbean people, culture and identity that embraces the regions African and East Indian descendants in what we might call in St. Martin a bold and brave way, said Sample.
In the essay Sovereignty of the Imagination Lammings take on Caribbean political parties and unions may be troubling to some, especially politicians, but will be revealing to other.
Dr. Lamming also challenges us to face up to the difference between governing and ruling in a region where the majority of the nation are independent but where realizing sovereignty is still a profound struggle, said Sample. According to Badejo, Lamming, as an abiding father of Caribbean literature, is daring us to embrace a new definition of ourselves as we seek to carve out a niche for our democratic future in a world bent on branding us as victims of the past.
Lammings preoccupation with freedom is today very apropos because one feature of our contemporary world is the resurgence of a current of thought and action, which heralds the virtues of empire, said Bogues, who is also a scholar with the Center for Caribbean Thought.
The book party for Sovereignty of the Imagination is the high point of the Book Fair closing ceremony at Belair Community Center, Saturday, June 6, 2009, at 8 PM. Lamming will be on hand to hear scholar and University of Miami professor Sandra Paquet deliver the introductory remarks about his new book, said Sample.
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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
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#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
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#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
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#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
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#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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By Kiini Ibura Salaam
Ancient, Ancient collects the short fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam, of which acclaimed author and critic Nalo Hopkinson writes, ”Salaam treats words like the seductive weapons they are. She wields them to weave fierce, gorgeous stories that stroke your sensibilities, challenge your preconceptions, and leave you breathless with their beauty.” Indeed, Ms. Salaam’s stories are so permeated with sensuality that in her introduction to
, Nisi Shawl, author of the award-winning Filter House, writes, ”Sexuality-cum-sensuality is the experiential link between mind and matter, the vivid and eternal refutation of the alleged dichotomy between them. This understanding is the foundation of my 2004 pronouncement on the burgeoning sexuality implicit in sf’s Afro-diasporization. It is the core of many African-based philosophies. And it is the throbbing, glistening heart of Kiini’s body of work. This book is alive. Be not afraid.”
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By George Lamming
Natives of My Person focuses on slave traders of the sixteenth century. The novel reconstructs the voyage of the ship Reconnaissance, which is led by a character known as the Commandant. To atone for his past cruelties and barbarism, the Commandant plans to establish a Utopian society on the island of San Cristobal. The enterprise fails for many reasons: fighting amongst the crew, loss of interest, greed, and an inability to erase the past. The novel argues that an ideal society cannot be built by those who have committed moral atrocities and unnecessary bloodshed in their past. . . . Although
has a historical setting and deals with the voyage of the Reconnaissance, a vessel ostensibly engaged in the slave trade, a specific historical phenomenon, it is only partly accurate to describe it as a work of historical realism. Its realist component is not to be found in its fidelity to period costume, living conditions, or similar revealing detail. Instead of the veneer of verisimilitude that such usages provide, the novel locates its realism in the way in which it elaborately recapitulates an outlook.
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By George Lamming
First published in 1960, Season of Adventure details the story of Fola, a light-skinned middle-class girl who has been tipped out of her easy hammock of social privilege into the complex political and cultural world of her recently independent homeland, the Caribbean island of San Cristobal. After attending a ceremony of the souls to raise the dead, she is carried off by the unrelenting accompaniment of steel drums onto a mysterious journey in search of her past and of her identity. Gradually, she is caught in the crossfire of a struggle between people who have “pawned their future to possessions” and those “condemned by lack of learning to a deeper truth.” The music of the drums sounds throughout the novel, “loud as gospel to a believer’s ears,” and at the end stands alone as witness to the tradition which is slowly being destroyed in the name of European values. Whether through literary production or public pronouncements, George Lamming has explored the phenomena of colonialism and imperialism and their impact on the psyche of Caribbean people.
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By Gil Scott Heron
Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King’s birthday ended up becoming a national holiday (“The Last Holiday because America can’t afford to have another national holiday”), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel.
Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered. Gil uses Lennon’s violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King’s assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong.
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How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful
From “the most important voice to have entered the political discourse in years” (Bill Moyers), a scathing critique of the two-tiered system of justice that has emerged in America. From the nation’s beginnings, the law was to be the great equalizer in American life, the guarantor of a common set of rules for all. But over the past four decades, the principle of equality before the law has been effectively abolished. Instead, a two-tiered system of justice ensures that the country’s political and financial class is virtually immune from prosecution, licensed to act without restraint, while the politically powerless are imprisoned with greater ease and in greater numbers than in any other country in the world. Starting with Watergate, continuing on through the Iran-Contra scandal, and culminating with Obama’s shielding of Bush-era officials from prosecution,
Glenn Greenwald lays bare the mechanisms that have come to shield the elite from accountability. He shows how the media, both political parties, and the courts have abetted a process that has produced torture, war crimes, domestic spying, and financial fraud. Cogent, sharp, and urgent, this is a no-holds-barred indictment of a profoundly un-American system that sanctions immunity at the top.
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A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family thats about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys muscles jabbered like chickens.
Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake. She conveys something fundamental about Eschs fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.
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By George Lamming
Political philosophy, Literature, Caribbean history, Language studies. According to Prof. Anthony Bogues, The Sovereignty of the Imagination gives us that capacity for language and therefore the ability to name and establish categories. But this is not just a literary capacity; it allows us to define freedom. George Lamming recognizes the centrality of the quest for freedom for the social group that he calls ‘this world of men and women from down below.’ George Lamming is an illustrious Caribbean novelist and cultural critic from Barbados. His novels and volumes of essays and literary criticism offer insightful analyses on history, western philosophy, racism, colonization, education, literature and Caribbean independence.
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Though the colonies of sub-Saharan Africa began to claim independence in the late 1950s and 60s, autocratic and capricious leadership soon caused initial hope to fade, and Africa descended into its lost decades, a period of stagnation and despondency from which much of the continent has yet to recover. Mahama, vice president of the Republic of Ghana, grew up alongside his nascent country and experienced this roller-coaster of fortunes. In this memoir, Mahama, the son of a member of parliament, recounts how affairs of state became real in his young mind on the day in 1966 when no one came to collect him from boarding schoolthe government had been overthrown, his father arrested, and his house confiscated.
In fluid, unpretentious style, Mahama unspools Ghanas recent history via entertaining and enlightening personal anecdotes: spying on his uncle impersonating a deity in order to cajole offerings of soup from the villagers hints at the power of religion; discussions with his schoolmates about confronting a bully form the nucleus of his political awakening. As he writes: The key to Africas survival has always been . . . in the story of its people, the paradoxical simplicity and complexity of our lives. The book draws to a close as the authors professional life begins. Publishers Weekly
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 1 August 2012