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Dionne Brand. Biographical Sketch 1953 Born in Trinidad 1970 immigrated to Canada 1970s-80s community worker in Toronto 1983 Information Officer for the.

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Presentation on theme: "Dionne Brand. Biographical Sketch 1953 Born in Trinidad 1970 immigrated to Canada 1970s-80s community worker in Toronto 1983 Information Officer for the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dionne Brand

2 Biographical Sketch 1953 Born in Trinidad 1970 immigrated to Canada 1970s-80s community worker in Toronto 1983 Information Officer for the Caribbean People’s Development Agencies and the Agency for Rural Transformation in Grenada 1997 won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry and the Trillium Award for Land to Light On A communist who believes in equal distribution of wealth and ending exploitation Founded and edited Our Lives, Canada’s first black women’s newspaper

3 Brand--Writer and Filmmaker Fore Day Morning (1978) Earth Magic (1978) Primitive Offensive (1982) Winter Epigrams and Epigrams to Ernesto Cardenal in Defense of Claudia (1982) Chronicles of the Hostile Sun (1984) Rivers Have Sources, Trees Have Roots(1986)—prose Sans Souci and other Stories (1988) No Language is Neutral (1990) No Burden to Carry (1991)--editor Sisters in Struggle (1991)--film Long Time Comin' (1993)—film Listening for Something (1996)--film In Another Place, Not Here (1997)--novel Land To Light On (1997) At the Full and Change of the Moon--novel

4 Major Issues and Themes “the experience of existing on the external frontiers of the Caribbean diaspora, issues of personal and national identity, her experience as a lesbian, colonial oppression and its consequences on the colonial subject, multiculturality reflected in a multicultural identity, and the immigrant experience in Canada. Her self- articulation is an act of liberation, breaking the silence and giving voice to the silenced and marginalized people of her world.” Carmen Lassotta

5 Oya—Goddess of Thunder and Cemetery

6 “Oya is the divinity that guards the cemetery. More specifically she protects the souls of the departed as they journey onward. Oya is viewed as a warrior with great strength. She stands well on her own, but is usually in the company of her counterpart Shango. Oya is also recognized for her psychic abilities which manifest in the winds. She is the deity of the storm and hurricanes. Oya is often seen as the deity of death, but upon deeper realization, she is the deity of rebirth as things must die so that new beginnings arise.” (27) Baba Ifa Karade, The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts

7 Prayer to Oya As powerful as the strong wind, More fierce than the storm, Oya guards my soul against the many fingers of evil. Help me to rest upon the earth free from strain and undue frustration. Oya, warrior of the wind, let not our land be overrun with destroyers. Let us not die in pain and sorrow. Extend your weapon to protect us from destruction. Oya, may we live and die to live again. Oya, may our lives be long and our death short. The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts (58)

8 “Blossom” Do you find the story fantastic? If so, why? Are the characters believable or stereoptyed? Why does Blossom marry Victor? Why does Brand invoke the Yoruba orisha Oya in “Blossom”? Are there any similar attributes between Oya and Blossom? What is the significance of Blossom’s dream of fighting with suffering?

9 Brand and Black Tradition Brand writing for the absence (of writings about black people)—conscious efforts to create a black diasporic tradition + “the new wave of Canadian writing” (270) "What some white reviewers lack is the sense of what literature that is made by Black people and other people of colour is about. If you read my work, you have to read Toni Morrison, you have to read Derek Walcott, Rosa Guy, Jean Rhys, Paule Marshall, Michael Anthony, Eddie Brathwaite, and African writers and poets...Bessie Head. I don't consider myself on any margin, on the margin of Canadian Literature. I'm sitting right in the middle of Black Literature, because that's who I read, that's who I respond to" (Books in Canada, October 1990: 14).

10 The Origin of “Blossom” “That story is based on fact: I met this woman running a basement speakeasy in her house, and she had run the speakeasy for years and years. She was a Jamaican woman without a single tooth in the front of her mouth, and she would throw people out who were drunk. Also one day I saw an old man xeroxing something. I thought I'd read over his shoulder and it was all these little potions he was preparing for people. He was an obeah man and that was obeah gone modern tech. It's interesting how our people could come here and adapt things that used to work for them somewhere else so that they work for them here too.” Interview with Frank Birbalsingh

11 Blossom and Afircanism Going back to the African past for strength— “She had to dig into that past of hers which she retained; she became an Obeah woman because that was one the things that black people in the Americas managed to retain, some sense of a past that is not a past controlled by those things that seem to control her now.” (273) Oral style in “Blossom”

12 Blossom the Woman Warrior Blossom’s “buoyancy” (276) Fighting against white racism (264)—sexual assault from the white master and the distrust of the white mistress—picketed against the white oppression— slogans from the black power movement (264)

13 Blossom and Gender Issue Not only criticizing (white) men— closeness to girl friends but gets cheated by Fancy Girl (the pyramid scheme) Once deserted by a man (263) Loneliness, hard work—resigning to traditional thinking about love relationship (267) resignation—but takes initiative in choosing her man— decide to take Victor--later fighting against Victor’s exploitation (265-6)

14 Blossom’s Fight with Suffering Personification and allegory (269)—a battle with oppression, against black suffering—fighting with “hate” and triumphs Death and rebirth—getting into Oya’s womb—dance of “Freeness” Blossom becomes Oya’s priestess and speaks in tongues

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