“between a protest and prayer”

james

The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.”

JAMES BALDWIN The Creative Process

On Friday night,

while the U.S. is inaugurating a new president, and with many feeling that the simple fact of their body or their faith imperils them, a small group will gather to voice something between a protest and prayer. Join us at Knife Fork Book at Rick’s Cafe in Kensington (281 August Ave), 7-9 pm, for a full-length reading of “Operations.” It will likely take about two hours to read all of the names of war from 1945 to 2006, with different guest readers reading each year. Dionne Brand will read 1983. Tasleem Thawar from PEN Canada will read 1951. Liz Howard will read the names in 2004. But there will also be a few readers who won’t physically be in the space. Johanna Skibsrud will read the Vietnam heavy 1967 from Tuscon, Arizona. Erin Wunker will read 1955 from Halifax. Eduardo C. Corral will read 1969 from Raleigh, North Carolina. Monique Truong will read 1957 from Brooklyn. These readers will voice their year where they happen to be, without streaming or phoning in, and their portion will be “heard” in the cafe as an appropriately lengthed silence.
The full list of readers will be posted in the next day or two, but thank you to those who are taking part, and to Kirby at Knife Fork Book who approached me/BookThug with this idea. This is durational, so if you’d like to come, you don’t have to stay for the full reading. Also, if you’d like to read a year, you can show up and ask one of us or backchannel me.
One of my favourite pieces I’ve read recently is James Baldwin’s The Creative Process. One line, in particular, stayed with me because of its balance of humility and idealism: “The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.” MOEZ SURANI 
Photo: JAMES BALDWIN (source unknown)