Arts Big words and good diction
posted by January 9 at 14:05 PMon
Margit Rankin, the executive director of Seattle Arts and Lectures, reminds me of all the girls who always got As in my IB English class in high school. She has remarkable elocution and knows about the French epistolary tradition (authors writing letters). She is also nervous and boring. And she ruined what could have been a fine “conversation” with Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat last night at Benaroya Hall. I will not bludgeon you with the entirety of her questions. They all concerned bookish subjects like how Danticat “edges up against the line” between short story and novel. Whenever Danticat meandered into actually interesting territory, like the savage poverty and violence of her homeland, squeamish Margit put on the breaks with meek responses that consisted of a sour expression and trailed off sentences. “Well, that’s…,” wince, end.
Finally, Danticat read a section from her forthcoming nonfiction book about an uncle who died in the custody of Homeland Security. I think I will check out the book. She also took questions from the audience, which were far superior to Margit’s queries. They asked substantive questions, about politics, culture, real shit. The evening ended with Danticat getting the audience to help her come up with examples of parables from Haiti. The best one had this gist: the dead are always wrong.