April 4, 2006

In Praise of Maud

Maud Newton is one of my favorite blogs, and it’s not because of the kindnesses she has shown me. Rather, it’s the unabashed enthusiasm that she has for the arts and literature.

In yesterday’s blog, “Visiting Poe’s Bronx house” , she described a visit to Edgar Allen Poe’s former residence in the Bronx, and if I’m ever in New York again, I may just go there. Poe, after all, is a master of the short story and any young writer who wants to learn about the craft should study writers like Poe, Chekhov, Gardner, and our curmudgeon, Naipaul. But I admire her for taking the pilgrimage and inviting others to do the same.

I have only made three such pilgrimages. The first was to Key West when I turned twenty-one and I wanted to sit in the same stool where Ernest Hemingway sat (I thought) and have a drink. I went with my girlfriend (now my wife) to see his mansion and the six toed cats and listened to the saucy tales from a guide who was quite flamboyant in his storytelling. The other pilgrimage was the Albert Einstein’s home. I was up in New Jersey at a conference that ended early for the day, so I drove with a friend of mine almost fifty miles to see where the great man had lived and walked. The third was a sort of two-in-one. I went to the museum/residence of Simon Bolivar in Venezuela, but then I dragged my friends to the coast to the village of La GuairĂ¡ because of one of Walcott’s famous poems, “Nearing La GuairĂ¡”. There was still nothing there.

The interesting thing is that I don’t think there are any such spots (Island House and Nine Miles are the exceptions) in Jamaica for our artists and writers. I wonder why?

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