The Word Vancouver festival is preparing its 2018 edition with another genre-hopping and inclusive roster of authors, set to appear at venues around the city from September 24 to 30.
The Straight has asked a group of these writers to describe their most memorable and momentous reading experiences. Which books lit up their imaginations? Which ones struck a chord at a crucial time?
Here’s what Barbadian-born Canadian author Roger R. Blenman told us. His latest novel, Dead’er, was published in 2015 by Hamilton Books. He’ll be discussing his work at 1:15 p.m. on September 30, in the Sunrise Suite at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.
The winters were cold where I grew up. Often I was the only Black kid in the class. My senior English teacher, a brilliant educator by the name of Fred Anderson, suggested that I read Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. My teacher, uncharacteristically tentative when making the recommendation, knew that I’d read little of the Black literary tradition. It took no prophet, however, to divine that a university-bound, minority youth would eventually have to deal with challenges specific to his race. He discussed the book with me, parsing his literary observations with respect for my lived experience.
Should public-school teachers encourage activism? Phrase the question this way: should public schools foster docility or complacency? Should public schools produce students afraid or unwilling to suggest improvements to the status quo? Should not public schools produce leaders, as well as dreamers, and innovators, and entrepreneurs, and yes followers too, but never followers of the uncritical or the unquestioning kind?
I’ve since become a writer and a teacher myself.