I had a really stressful day at work today, and so I almost didn't make it to Edwidge Danticat's "conversation" at Symphony Space tonight, which I had purchased a ticket for months ago. In fact, I almost didn't want to go, because I was so cranky and tired, and honestly, also feeling guilty about not working on apps, etc.
But I went.
And I am really glad I did.
She opened with a short reading from her memoir Brother I'm Dying. The way she reads is exactly how you hear it when you read the words on the page. Smooth, lyrical, quiet yet resonating. It really is an enchanting thing to hear her read. Really beautiful.
A few of the things she said that really resonated with me:
Fiction is about portraying humanity, giving a humane spin on characters or ideas, shedding some light, and in that way, showing the truth. -- This is the crux of what I'm trying to write about in my personal statement, in terms of how everything I've done in life is linked back to that. I truly believe the beauty of words comes back to this - humanity. This is why I want to write.
Empathy is the beginning of action. -- Yes. Why I believe this world could profit from more empathy. I have this weird desire to want to slowly transform people into more empathetic humans. I think literature does a good job of this. Words in general, with a pure intent.
She used a sparse style in this very affecting memoir, especially in the parts where perhaps, she truly is most outraged. Why? Because she's letting the words speak for themselves. -- I'm trying very hard to let my words speak for themselves, the whole showing, not telling bit. I tend to overexplain in my prose, when sometimes there's enough in the actions and dialogue itself that I don't need to overwrite. Good advice.
I asked her a question about her book The Farming of Bones, which is my favorite novel of hers. I'm a loser, and I got very nervous as I was about to ask her. But she was gracious and I loved her story of how she had talked to a painter friend of hers, and that's how it began. Because he had some paintings of the massacre he had created, and she was intrigued, and researched into the whole thing. I don't know, but something about how she was explaining it, really touched me.
I was actually something like 5th in line to get a signing. But. Then I realized I'd left my book at home. Well, they were selling books, but I'd already gotten Brother I'm Dying and Krik? Krak! signed, and the one I wanted to get signed was Farming of Bones, which they weren't selling. So I left the line. Unfortunately. :(
Next time, because I feel like I'm going to stalk her into eternity. Muahaha. Okay, that sounded creepy.
I really love her though.