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Ondjaki

by in Faculty Spotlight



ondjaki on the floor

“The Portuguese language in Angola, whether used by a citizen in daily life, by a child, by a woman who sells things in the street, by a sea-shell seller, a politician or a writer, is a singular instrument of self-expression and creation. It’s even each person’s private theatre,” says Ondjaki (the pen name of Ndalu de Almeida).

One of the most important Angolan writers of the post-independence period, Ondjaki has written novels for adults and children as well as poetry and screenplays. His novel Transparent City, a work “of radiant beauty and heart” (Bongani Kona) and “a contemporary masterpiece” (Trevor Corkum) won the prestigious Jose Saramago Prize in 2013 and the English translation was named a Globe and Mail Best Book of 2018.

 

transparent city cover

 

You can read an interview between Ondjaki and his English translator Stephen Henighan, check out an excerpt from his novel Good Morning, Comrades! at Words Without Borders, or buy the English translation of Transparent City here.

Ondjaki was scheduled to speak at Disquiet 2020 and we hope that he’ll be able to join us in 2021.

 

Shayla Lawson

by in Faculty Spotlight, News



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Shayla Lawson “writes like you’re having a conversation with your smartest, wisest, funniest friend and you don’t want it to end.” (R. Eric Thomas). Her new book of essays, This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope, comes out today from Harper Perennial, available here and everywhere.

The author of three books of poetry, most recently I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean, and a professor at Amherst College, Lawson’s other projects include curating The Tenderness Project with Ross Gay and performing with her band The Oceanographers.

Hear her poem “Pantone 427 U“, read “Forrest Gump“, or hear her read from This Is Major at a Zoom reading for THE ANTIBODY.

Shayla Lawson was scheduled to lead a poetry workshop at Disquiet 2020, and we hope she’ll return for 2021.

 

this is major composite

 

Arthur Flowers

by in Faculty Spotlight



Arthur Flowers

Not many writers can say they’ve written a holy book, but five-time Disquiet faculty member Arthur Flowers’ latest, The Hoodoo Book of Flowers: The Great Black Book of Generations, is precisely that.

A truly incomparable work, HBOF weaves together fablistic retellings of classic African-American tales and anecdotes, homages to African-American literary griots that came before him, memoiristic ruminations on life and mission, and distillations of principles and beliefs that show the way forward. It is not hyperbole to say once again of the work of one of our faculty, that his is required reading for the moment. Available now in a limited edition hardcover from Burke’s Book Store in Memphis or on Kindle.

Flowers is a blues-based performance poet, novelist, and essayist, whose other recent works include a reimagining of the Brer Rabbit stories and a graphic novel about Martin Luther King, Jr. I See the Promised Land, an “extraordinary jam session” combining the distinctive storytelling traditions of Flowers and his collaborator Indian scroll painter Manu Chitrakar. Flowers has also written two novels: De Mojo Blues, about black soldiers in Vietnam, which caught the attention of Spike Lee who brought Flowers in to consult on Da 5 Bloods, and the novel that comes as close to song as prose gets, Another Good Lovin’ Blues.

He has brought the house down many a time in Lisbon for Disquiet, both in his collaborations with Erica Dawson and solo. Watch a performance by Arthur here or here.

In addition to his work and his performance, Flowers is a renowned teacher who just retired after teaching for more than twenty years in the Syracuse University MFA program. His humble approach to art and teaching is perhaps best encapsulated in this quote: “As to if my works make the cut, who knows, who cares. You write the best books you can write, the most serious and sincere work you can produce; you let the generations decide their worth.”

Arthur was scheduled to bring his Performance and Storytelling workshop once again to DISQUIET 2020, and we expect he’ll return in 2021

 

Ana Paula Tavares

by in Faculty Spotlight



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“The poetry of place was a long apprenticeship. It was not inside me. This was a language I had to learn,” says Ana Paula Ribeiro Tavares, whose work is known for its spare language, subtle eroticism, and strong sense of place. A poet and historian, Tavares is the author of seven books and the recipient of numerous prizes. She teaches Lusophone African literature at the Catholic University of Lisbon.

Prior to coming to Lisbon she grew up and lived in many different regions of Angola, serving as, among other roles, the culture delegate for Kwanza-Sul province and heading up the Research Bureau of the Centro Nacional de Documentação e Investigação Histórica in Luanda. She also served on the Angolan Commission of UNESCO. Her recent work includes Words for a Dictionary of Affection (2016) as well as several other collaborations with fellow Lusophone authors.

Ana Paula Tavares was scheduled to speak at Disquiet 2020, and we hope to be able to reschedule her for 2021. You can hear and read her poems in the original and English translation at lyrikline.org, or read Richard Zenith’s translations here.

 

Germano Almeida

by in Faculty Spotlight



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Germano Almeida, the author of eighteen books and the founder of the publishing house Ilhéu Editora, was born in Cape Verde and practices law on the island of São Vicente. In 2018, he received the Prémio Camões, the most important prize for Portuguese-language writers. Read his story “The Best-Seller” or the recent essay “Cabo Verde is the Center of the World” in Words Without Borders.

Almeida’s 1989 debut novel The Last Will & Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo, which “uses a very sophisticated, humorous, but at the same time melancholic style” (El Pais), is considered a major work of Cape Verdean literature. It was translated into English by Sheila Faria Glaser and published by New Directions.

last will and testament

 

Almeida was scheduled to speak at Disquiet 2020, and we hope to reschedule him for 2021.