Arts, Culture & Media

Jamaican author Lorna Goodison

LG says the Harveys in her book always felt the need to be special in some way: I think we had a sense that we had to be a little more special. (So you're born in Kingston and then move to Harvey River when you're 10. you said that affected your life forever, why?) It had its great charms, and life was exciting in Kingston. And the country is the exact opposite. I had never seen anything like a river. It was very romantic, idyllic, a slow pace of life. It was something about urban vs. rural. I saw that there was some other way to being in the world, and I fell in love with the more green way of life. (Your own history as an artist is interesting: you came to NYC in the 60s and started writing poetry and then you discovered prose. How did this memoir come about?) I think maybe the first draft of this book is a poem I wrote in 1985 called �I Am Becoming My Mother.� (One thing that stands out in the book is your knowledge of slavery and how interracial marriage is now part of Jamaica's cultural fabric. What differences have you noticed on how Americans view that history and how Jamaicans view it?) We view it as being divided and scattered or you can see all of these influences came together and made us a nation. That is how I see my own upbringing. I was amazed to hear about my mother and aunt talk about growing up with an English and Irish parents. Yes, Jamaica has racial and ethnic tensions. But after a time it just is part of your life. A friend of mine said she can go weeks and weeks without thinking about race, but in the US it's always on your mind. (Does nationality play into that?) I suspect so, yes�it's easier for us all to unite under being Jamaican. (You encounter many Americans who have views of Jamaica as being a country with lots of suns, rum, and relaxation. How do you inform people of what the country is like?) This book is part of my attempt to do that.

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