ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Method to My Madness

Puzzled at why she writes in many genres, a Kuwait-based fiction writer and poet wonders whether it is our commodities or our roles that sum up our writing personas.

When writers introduced themselves at the Inter­national Writing Programme of the University of Iowa, the United States, where I was a Resident in 2013, they used three pointers. They mentioned their names, their countries of origin and, finally, their writing genres. Since we were 34 writers from 31 different countries, each with his or her own specialty, it made sense for staff at the University of Iowa to suggest a uniform method of introduction that was also brief. I found myself preoccupied with the focus on one’s writing genre and wondered whether the best method to identify oneself as a writer rested on the type of writing or on the motive to write in the first place. Is it, in other words, our commodities or our roles that sum up our writing personas? And since I write poetry, articles and fiction for local and international audiences, for young adults and adults, for literary journals as well as newspapers and socialite magazines, to be read as well as performed, I stumbled on my own clunky introduction.

I referred (with tongue in cheek) to the process with which we introduced ourselves to Western audiences as fetishisation, referencing oriental unveiling. I knew though that the debut adhered less to a racial impulse than to a professional one. Additionally, the three-phrase introduction was devised for our own good, to help us connect with the right people in the least amount of time. It helped to position the international writers in a global literary market to facilitate the process of cross-cultural exchange. Translators, for instance, did not have to waste valuable time “getting to know” everyone. Within three seconds, translators and other literary professionals would recognise whom they needed to work with and whom to avoid. We all lead extra­ordinarily busy lives, after all.

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