VISIT BY PROFESSOR THOMAS GLAVE, SUNY BINGHAMTON

The newly formed Cave Hill Theory Project welcomes US-based Jamaican writer, Thomas Glave, as a distinguished lecturer during the first week of April.  An assistant professor of English and Africana Studies at the State University of New York, Binghamton, Thomas Glave is also a creative writer and rights activist in a field – queer studies and gay rights – which is too often neglected in the cultural studies arena of the Caribbean.  Given the increasing prominence of Queer Theory on the academic scene internationally, and the increasing numbers of Caribbean writers who are questioning received notions of gender and sexuality, this is a topic whose time has come.

Glave’s own publications: Whose Song? and Other Stories (2000), Words To Our Now: Imagination and Dissent (2005) and his edited anthology, Our Caribbean: a Gathering of Contemporary Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles (2006), place him in a select group of Caribbean writers whose work dramatizes the lives of homo- or transsexual characters: Shani Mootoo (Cereus Blooms at Night, 1999), Lawrence Scott (Aelred’s Sin, 1998), Patricia Powell (The Pagoda, 1998), Michelle Cliff (Free Enterprise, 1993 and No Telephone to Heaven, !987) Nalo Hopkinson (The Salt Roads, 2003).  As a body of work, this is evidence enough that no amount of homophobic prejudice is going to keep the issue in the closet.

Thomas Glave was born in the Bronx and grew up there and in Kingston, Jamaica.  As a young academic determined to explore his Jamaican identity, Glave went to Jamaica as a Fulbright Scholar to study Jamaican historiography and Caribbean intellectual and literary traditions. While there, he worked on issues of social justice, and helped found the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG, www.jflag.org).  Whose Song? and Other Stories was nominated by the American Library Association for their Best Gay/Lesbian Book of the Year award and by the Quality Paperback Book Club for their Violet Quill/Best New Gay/Lesbian Fiction Award.  He has also received an O. Henry Prize for fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown, and was named a ‘Writer on the Verge’ by The Village Voice in 2000.

Professor Glave will present a seminar entitled "Queering Caribbean Literature" in the Bruce St. John Conference Room on Tuesday April 4, 2006 at 10.30 am.  There will also be a Public Reading of Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent in the Arts Lecture Theatre at Cave Hill on Tuesday April 4, 2006 at 8 pm.  At the recent launch of this book in Kingston, host Professor Carolyn Cooper declared: ‘I really admire the commitment that Thomas has given to getting his country to be more accepting of him,’ while theatre director, Jean Small, described him as highly intelligent, intellectual and adventurous in his writing.  ‘Words To Our Now is the work of a revolutionary mind,’ she said.

Among the 17 essays which constitute the book, the autobiographical ‘Between Jamaica(n) and (North) America(n): Convergent (Divergent) Territories’ explores Glave's coming to manhood, torn between two worlds where 'his kind of people' risk death.  'Hair' offers an intriguing perspective on locks as a tool for masking, acting as a shield against anti-homosexual slurs and suspicions, while simultaneously invoking the prejudices of the Jamaican elite from which he comes.  The lecture is free and all are invited.