Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jacket2 commentary on Hazel Smith, Caroline Sinavaiana & diaspora

Uncertain geographies: Caroline Sinavaiana & Hazel Smith in (imagined) conversation

Part of the "Hand Upon Hand" sculpture in Centennial Park, Sydney; poem by Adam Aitken
In her marvelous, odd textbook, The Writing Experiment: Strategies for Innovative Creative Writing, Hazel Smith devotes a late chapter to “Mapping worlds, moving cities.”  Composing in a kind of sociological sublime, she writes in the subsection, “The diasporic city,” of the sub-section, “Cities rather than city,” “As the concept of the nation-state breaks down, people migrate and borders shift.  The modern western city has become a mixture of nationalities and ethnicities: this has transformed food, clothing, customs, art and language” (260).  Cutting to the chase, she ends her paragraph on “the diasporic city” with this pithy sentence: “The diasporic city is as much about displacement as about place” (261).   The neatly structured description of this city hardly masks the layers of discomfort and exuberance to which Smith refers, inviting students to write their own city-selves.   Two writers published by Tinfish Press, one of them Hazel Smith and the other Caroline Sinavaiana, explore that vein of dis-ease.  They have almost certainly never met, as their paths have covered different roads, followed different tides, but putting their work in conversation opens new possibilites for talking about poetries of diaspora.

You can find the full commentary here.

No comments: