April 12, 2007

In My Own Words: Frances-Anne Solomon

Frances-Anne SolomonA cluster of thoughts are crisscrossing my mind tonight.

My new film, A Winter Tale, will be in front of an audience for the first time on Wednesday, and with that a long creative journey from concept to print finds closure.

I was asked by Geoffrey Philp to write "In My Own Words" for his blog.

"I'd be particularly interested in how you have managed to keep Leda Serene going..." he said.

I'll try to reflect on that (if indirectly) over the next days.

Reflection 1: Last night I was reading Harriet (the Poetry Foundation's blog), where the poet Derek Walcott is quoted as saying he still feels terror at the empty page, and "any writer who says he doesn't is lying".

To which a younger poet replied that Walcott should be ashamed of himself.

Tonight I lie sleepless wondering from whence the macho indignation at Walcott's admission?

I get up and write a comment to that effect: that as artists we face terror daily when we choose to express whatever it is we call our truth.

Creation is a form of Terror, particularly when you come from a colonial context and background in which Empire (read: a sense of inferiority) was imposed through education, language, culture, as much if not more than through the barrel of a gun.

Most chose silence.
(My mother and my father both.)
For those who don't, how can we not be terrified?

Walcott paved our way, dared to be Creole, hybrid, native, himself, in all his inherited complexity.

He did it first. He must have been/still be shit-scared, all the time.

Fear - real, tangible, sweaty, sick-to-the-stomach, terror - comes with the territory. Defines it. There's no shame in it.

I try to live with it, but it's not easy.

Post script: Re Walcott

From Nicholas Laughlin's Blog, January 11 2003:

The Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott stood alone on the stage ... in a bright pool of light in front of a wine-red curtain, and read sections of a new, as yet unpublished poem... Between reading sections of the poem, he spoke not only of a colonisation of the planet by powerful European nations, but also the colonisation of the mind and the soul by European culture. In the face of such dangers, poetry provides people with a navigational tool, a way out.

Derek Walcott

Liberation is possible when one honestly examines and expresses one's conflicts, thoughts, and emotions. As Walcott wrote in a poem in his book, Sea Grapes, "Now, I require nothing from poetry but true feeling."

From Walcott: "The Schooner 'Flight'":

I know these islands from Monos to Nassau,

a rusty head sailor with sea-green eyes

that they nickname Shabine, the patois for

any red nigger, and I, Shabine, saw

when these slums of empire was paradise.

I'm just a red nigger who love the sea,

I had a sound colonial education,

I have Dutch, nigger, and English in me,

and either I'm nobody, or I'm a nation.

Photos: (1) Myself, warts and all. (2) Walcott or any red nigger with sea-green eyes and a sound colonial education.

Frances-Anne Solomon is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and producer whose credits include Lord Have Mercy!, Peggy Su!, What My Mother Told Me and Bideshi. She is the president and artistic director of the two companies she founded, Leda Serene Films and CaribbeanTales, and has also worked as a radio film and television drama producer for the BBC. Her new film, A Winter Tale, will open the Reel World Film Festival in Toronto on April 11th.



Anonymous said...

I attended the premier in Trinidad on Sunday.
It was absolutely brilliant.
It i a shame Frances had to lug it down herself.
I hope she manages to get it shown at the multiplexes here at least.
All kudos to Bruce Paddington also.

Geoffrey Philp said...

For Frances-Anne's sake I hope so too. I wish the days of the one-woman-show were over. Maybe in the next generation.