Poet and novelist Unoma Azuah was at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada recently to discuss her work as an African writer in the US. Author of the novel, Sky-High Flames, Azuah was at Queen’s as a guest lecturer/writer from 24th to 27th March. Her three days at the institution included a one hour poetry reading and discussions with international students at the international center. In the Contemporary Women Writers’ class, she read excerpts from her forthcoming collection of short stories, ‘The Length of Light’. Dean of students and class lecturer, Jason Laker, joined students' discussions about the themes of the stories.
In the Women’s Studies Department, Azuah participated in a talk about Anais Nin, particularly the place of Nin’s journals as a mine for feminist theory. Also up for discussion were: trauma, artistic forms, woman as artist, and writing the body. Class lecturer Professor Jane Tolmie argued that Anais Nin’s journals portrayed a life full of “games” – including the theatre of the everyday as well as sex games. Students shared their own insights during the session, raising questions about Nin’s and Azuah’s writings.
The visiting writer was also hosted by Professor Marc Epprecht of the Department of Global Studies. At the Van Righ Center (famous for its tradition of encouraging women’s achievement), Azuah gave a talk on issues of Emergent Sexuality in Nigerian, focussing on the Nollywood movie industry as well as the works of writers like Promise Ogochukwu, Jude Dibia and Lola Shoneyin.
All the time at Queen’s, Unoma Azuah shared with students her writings and insights into the life of an immigrant writer in North America; finding time along the way to sign copies of Sky-High Flames for students.
- Images © Zanele Muholi (Ryerson University, Toronto)