Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Periphery for the Book

In order for this blog to be useful or informative (...or self-reflexively analytical...) I guess it has to include more than lyrical descriptions of sub-Saharan fauna and cryptic references to trendy neighbourhoods in foreign cities. It has to include some context. Some of the emails I've received about the blog indicate that some of you are puzzled about what lions and zebras have to do with me. So here I am, sitting at a 10-rand-per-hour keyboard, in Three Anchor Bay, at 10 pm, drinking a can of Schin Guarana, to give you some context.

Call me Corey. I was born in a hospital - one that is soon to be torn down, I'm told - in a town on the sunny side of a little island in the North Atlantic. It's now more than three decades later, and I find myself on a distant peninsula that juts into the South Atlantic. How did this happen? What has become of me? It seems I have developed into a) a traveller, b) a writer, c) an eater of squid, and most recently and most unexpectedly, d) a blogger. Tomorrow, I'm going to jump off a cliff attached to a parachute, and if all goes well, I'll become e) airborne, and I'll fly above Sir Lowrie's Pass and over False Bay towards the Cape of Good Hope.

It's because of the first two attributes that I'm here really, although there is also a lot of good squid here. Basically, I decided to take a leave of absence from my doctoral studies at the City University of New York so that I could do some readings and meet other writers and performers in South Africa, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand; do research for my dissertation on spoken word scenes in different cities; visit some cities and countries and continents I've never seen before; promote my new book, The Worthwhile Flux (Coming soon to an independent bookstore near you); take a breather from New York for a while; forestall growing old and try to evade those crises of identity and purpose that are always lurking within both successes and disappointments. Etc.  

My strategy for the pursuit of those ends looks like this. I packed all my belongings into a 5X6 storage space in Brooklyn, and whatever didn't fit I left on the street or foisted off on friends. (My poor old car Smokey had to be ignominiously towed away to an uncertain end, with a proud new red target on his hood thanks to his adoptive caretaker Alison. I wasn't there to see him go but I did say goodbye first.) I spent June in Lennoxville, New York, Montreal, and P.E.I., teaching and arranging and finishing my book, and then after a week or so of ridiculously hectic and ultimately incomplete preparation I took a train to Toronto and the next day I flew to London with Alison, who is travelling with me as far as right here, Cape Town. We stayed in London only a few hours, with a brief shopping excursion at Picadilly Circus for malaria pills, and then a mere 15 hours later we were in Johannesburg. Africa greeted us with a jungle-feverish temperature of exactly zero degrees Celsius. It did warm up a bit later in the day.

We spent some days at Kruger, we flew to Port Elizabeth, rubbed shoulders with the pachyderms and so on - things that I may tell you about later - and got to Cape Town last Friday. Here there are lots of things to do. Tonight I went to a reading/discussion with a local writer of children's books about growing up in a Muslim fishing community in Calk Bay, SA, in the 1960's. It was at a beautiful place called The Center for the Book. Tomorrow I will try to fly.

On Monday I'm leaving CT and will go hiking or pony-trekking in Lesotho for several days before returning to Johannesburg. On the 10th of August I fly to London. Several days after that, to Edinburgh for the festival there. On the 18th, Australia. In October, New Zealand. After that, perhaps Cambodia and Vietnam, before returning to North America around the 1st of December. I'll stay in Montreal a bit then, and go back to NYC in January.

To be continued.


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10:37 AM  

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