Forbidden Love, and a View of Jamaica Beyond the Beaches
Nicole Dennis-Benn’s debut novel, “Here Comes the Sun,” is about Margot, a young woman in Jamaica coming to terms with her sexuality and dealing with the encroachment of tourism on her village. Ms. Dennis-Benn, who left Jamaica at 17 to go to college and received her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, discussed the book in an email interview and the effect she hopes it will have on visitors to her home country. Edited excerpts from the conversation are below.
What role do you think literature can play in teaching cultures about each other?
While writing “Here Comes the Sun,” I wanted readers to see the other side of paradise; I wanted them to see the real people behind the fantasy life advertised in commercials. Next time a reader visits any place — be it Jamaica or Thailand or India — perhaps now they might be more inclined to venture outside the gates of the resort.
Read the rest of the profile here: Forbidden Love, and a View of Jamaica Beyond the Beaches
Kimbilio Nurtures Black Writers
While Cave Canem’s annual retreat for African American poets has been changing the literary landscape for the past twenty years, the writing community has lacked a similar resource for African American fiction writers. That is, it did until 2013, when writers David Haynes and Sanderia Smith launched the Kimbilio Retreat. Now in its third year, the retreat is held annually in Taos, New Mexico, and is dedicated to supporting and empowering black fiction writers from America and the greater African diaspora.
After acquiring funding from the English department of Southern Methodist University (SMU), where Haynes teaches, Haynes and Smith met with the leadership of Cave Canem, as well as with other peer organizations serving writers of color, such as Kundiman and Canto Mundo, to develop their retreat model: a week of workshops, classes, and time to write for a small group of fellows. The two cofounders then relied on their network of African American fiction writers to recruit applicants, faculty members, and application judges. Victor LaValle and Emily Raboteau joined the advisory board during the planning stages, in 2012, and ZZ Packer and Dolen Perkins-Valdez came on as instructors for the inaugural retreat in July 2013.
Read the rest of the article here: Kimbilio in Poets & Writers or in the March/April edition of the print magazine.