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

Janelle-GordonSmallHosted by the African American Studies Program at the University of Puget Sound, a sparkling selection of writers of Caribbean descent will be in Washington to engage the community in conversations about the history, culture, and literature of the West Indies. The yearlong series—The Caribbean Writer: Identity, Immigration, and Art—will be held at the University of Puget Sound, at 1500 North Warner in Tacoma, Washington. The public talks are free and open to all.

The writers come from Haiti, Trinidad, Jamaica, and the Virgin Islands—areas that have each had unique encounters with colonialism, slavery, tourism, and multiculturalism. 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.

Tuesday, Oct. 29, 6:30–8:00pm “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 [shown above] 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 studio.

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 5:30–7:00pm “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-WilsonSmallGregory 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.]

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