Sunday, March 02, 2008

John Edgar Wideman

Last week I attended a lunch and later a reading with writer John Edgar Wideman. For those who don’t know his impressive bio, he is the second African American to win a Rhodes Scholarship, and has twice won the PEN/Faulkner Prize, among other honors. He has 13 books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Homewood Trilogy, God’s Gym, and Brothers and Keepers, which is burning a hole on my nightstand waiting to be read.

On this particular day, Babson celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of activities (our students are on break when the country typically celebrates MLK). He spoke with us informally at a luncheon, and later, more formally, to our campus community as our keynote speaker. Here are a few thoughts from the day.


Wideman said that he felt language has been corrupted. “Sloganized.” It has been used to exploit weakness and create “spin.” “As a writer, he and others who believe in the power of the word “have the opportunity to do something other than sell something or lie.” Writing is a form of defense against the determination of the language.


Martin Luther King Jr. used his words to point out racism and inequality. He was in the unique position of being a beacon of hope. Wideman felt that King saw the answer to these problems as activism, but he also saw the future in the hands of young people.


Wideman was enthused that so many of today’s youth are paying attention to politics, and he felt that maybe there is a way out from the past. He said, “Every single life is a chance for glory, for peace, and for hope.


Ananda said...

tyou for sharing about wideman. i love his words - "Every single life is a chance for glory, for peace, and for hope.' it inspires me to keep moving forward. hope is in us. we just have to shine it and allow it to be. i hope your husband is doing better. i am sending kristi and her daughter love and light.

January said...

Thanks Ananda. I'm just waiting to jump into Brothers and Keepers.

Thanks for the kind words about Kristi--she really appreciates them. And so do I.


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