Writing Like a Libyan Jazz Musician

The Nymph has been out of action since Sunday. A bad migraine attack has kept her in bed. Every now and again I peep into her darkened room.5146725115_3861c205bc_z

‘I’m so exhausted,’ she sighs. ‘My poor, poor head has gone on strike.’

We held the three launch events for our 15th title last week. Peirene Experience, Supper Club and Salon with the Libyan author Kamal Ben Hameda. All three events were a huge success.

I fetch a wet flannel and place it across Peirene’s forehead.

‘Thank you, ‘ she mumbles. ‘These author visits drain me. They are so intense.’

‘It all went swimmingly. ‘ I sit down on the side of her bed. ‘Kamal was an excellent performer. And a nice man too. He gave us lots of compliments.’

‘I know. I know,’ she whispers. ‘Still. They arrive and we throw them into the deep end. Place them in front of an Anglo-Saxon audience. English is often our authors’ third or even fourth language. They worry that they can’t express themselves well enough and I worry that our audience doesn’t really understand them.’

‘But isn’t that precisely why we introduce our audience to these foreign authors? Each language, each culture perceives reality differently.  It was fascinating listening to Kamal. He’s a Jazz musician. He answers questions like he tackles music. He never provides a direct answer, but takes each question as a starting point to develop themes, to meander, before he returns to the place where he started. He does the same in his book, Under the Tripoli Sky. It’s not a linear narrative. There is no beginning, middle and end. Instead he improvises on a theme and the reader is invited to go with the flow.’

‘But what if our audience doesn’t get it?’

‘It’s not about “getting it.” It’s about opening up to unusual ways of experiencing life.’

‘Oh, listen to you. So very wise,’  Peirene mocks me.

‘Hah, you’re feeling better now.’ I know my Nymph. When she begins to tease me, she is usually on the mend.

‘No! I’m still very poorly. I will have to stay in bed for at least another day. Do be so kind and bring me a big pot of tea.’

I bend forward and give her a kiss on the forehead. She behaved impeccably while Kamal was here. In return I am happy to obey her orders. I brew her a lovely pot of camomile tea to calm her still ruffled nerves.

Image by Nikkorz.

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