Monday, 28 May 2012

POSTCARD FROM CALABASH: Kerry Young educes the big laughs at Calabash Festival

Two women writers who won over Saturday’s Calabash audience with passages from their novels about marriage and the essence of womanhood were the great Olive Senior and the superb Kerry Young (above), who came in for a standing O. While Senior’s excerpt from Dancing Lessons soared on her clean, intelligent prose and a warm, friendly reading voice, Young (who is possessed of a masculine swag and Chinese heritage) had everyone in stitches with passages from her East Kingston-set Pao, delivering this classic gem: “Marriage is not for celebrating; it is to give your children a name.”

Following in the footsteps of their iconic dad, the Jamaican poet Evan Jones, Britain-based Melissa and Sadie Jones have, in their own right, emerged as literary forces to be reckoned with. Both young ladies also gave delightful readings from their acclaimed novels at Calabash on Saturday. “It is the writer’s condition to be an outsider,” observed Sadie, who bears a resemblance (even in speech) to Maylynne Walton-Lowe. “There is a freedom, a liberation, in observation.”

Paul Holdengraber (above) possesses a real knack for getting his subjects to open up candidly. His history at Calabash includes notable interviews with Wole Soyinka and Pico Iyer, This year, with South African freedom-fighter Ronnie Kasrils, he again worked his magic, resulting in a spirited ‘Reasonings’ segment full of power, rich insight and memorable quotes like the late JFK’s admonition: “Those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable.”

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