It has been a while, or has it? In-between worrying about the direction of this darned thesis (which is as interesting/exciting as it is burdening), and looking all around the internet for good English teaching opportunities in East Africa after this long American adventure winds up in a few months, and managing a language lab that caters to all students of foreign languages in this university, you have been a consistent friend. Even while worrying all through the last couple of weeks deciding which photographs to enter into that Juried Show, and eventually, the little details of its presentation, you have been here. Here’s my hug to you. Hold it tight. You deserve it.
Do you also remember that new position that was tossed on my lap from those brainy folks at Nigerianstalk? Adding a literary component to the already popular site of Nigerian news/thought aggregation, a LitMag was debut with a purpose of harnessing the strength of new literature on the continent and I was made the editor. Tell me, how easy was the task of transitioning from a distant critic of Nigeria/Africa’s new writing into an influential hand in its new directions? The first published pieces came from people we already had close by. I have now discovered Facebook – and twitter – as a treasure trove of other new writings while still unrelenting in trawling the web for as many more as one could find. Young/Old Nigerians and non-Nigerians are writing new, brilliant things. If we can use the LitMag to bring them to the attention of the world, and produce one or two best-selling authors (and maybe a Caine/Booker prize-winning author), that would have been a success, wouldn’t it? For now, I invite you over to read short stories by Anja Choon and Olumide Abimbola, poetry by Benson Eluma and Kolade Ajayi, reviews by Adebiyi Olusolape, and a delightful non-fiction by Temie Giwa. All delightful, really.
Yesterday, I played around with tumblr. I have been told consistently that it is a better portal for photo exhibition than Facebook or twitter. I didn’t pay attention to it much because – frankly – I wasn’t really ready to deal with the work of pruning a whole photo database of thousands of pictures for weed and tare. Now that some of the work in that department has got some attention, it might be necessary to take these advice seriously. People who access the tumblr page would be able to see my works-in-progress, and photos that I would rather not have to delete. After all, Facebook has now been fully privatized. Giving hard, creative work to Mr. Zuckerberg for free will bring neither pleasure nor profit. One could suggest that artists/writers who use that platform for exhibition of their work should get something back from the pool of advertising revenue that Facebook rakes in everyday… but one would be but one voice in the wilderness.
Valentine’s Day always reminded me more of that old picture I took on the way to campus in the winter of 2009/10: a student couple staring idly at the restful lake. There were just three shots, and only one of them became the super great piece that it eventually became. Sometimes I think of them. Would they recognize themselves in the photo today if presented with it? All the viewer sees is their backs turned to the photographer. Ahead of them is a serene lake disturbed only by the restless geese. Another thought: if that picture were to make it to a great exhibition somewhere in New York City sometime in the future, how much would it fetch? And, how does one quantify the value of being at the right place at the right time with the right kind of camera, and stealth?
The day, of course, always reminded of that one last year that ended with a speeding ticket on my driver’s license in St. Louis. Somehow, in spite of my enduring affection for that riverfront town, we always managed to run headfirst into each other’s restless ego. Last year was also memorable for a very remarkable congress of us five student friends watching the Grammy with wine, chips, food, and class homework. A year later, we are all mildly dispersed in all directions of the state. Next year will surely find us in even more disparate circumstances. As the Yorubas say, “twenty children will never typically play for twenty straight years.” (Good luck explaining that to a monastery).
The curator of the art show slated for Friday told me that the opening day is the only day that I am obliged to show up – in order to meet with other artists, and to talk to the guests. For the other days of the one-month event, visitors and guests will just wander around observing, reading artist statements, and pointing to particular artworks that catch their attention enough to bring out their credit cards. The long nights between now and Friday will hopefully be filled with more productive endeavour. (I really hate bringing up thoughts about this thesis, as much as I have enjoyed working on it. I’m guessing that this is what a pregnancy feels like). As usual, there are a few new, and a few incomplete, novels all around my bed. None of them will be read to the end at the moment. Maybe this is a good time to return to editing that copy of Headfirst into the Meddle which my e-publisher has requested for a re-issuing. This year might be a good year for creativity after all – in spite of that damned blessed thesis.
Thank you blog for being there. I love you too. If you remain good, I promise to spend a lot more time with you when the thesis is over. Deal? I also have a story I want to tell you. Many stories, in fact, but there is this one about a personal brush with Intellectual Property violation on the internet. Will you still be here?
PS: Supervisor just sent me a mail that began with the following: “Something else I forgot to mention… You will probably need to develop some facility at multi-tasking…”