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Words of Blood and Piss: Thomas Glave's Among the Blood People
An intimate gathering coalesced at Bookophilia, Liguanea, for the Jamaican launch of Thomas Glave’s most recent collection of essays Among the Blood People: Politics of Flesh. Born in New York to Jamaican parents, Glave was raised with the dual identity forged in that city as well as Kingston. His work in Among the Blood People continues to explore the political the taboo and the fleshy underbelly of Jamaican cultural politics.
The readings displayed Glave’s gift with language. His writing is lyrical and lively, his prose filled with poetry. He is insightful yet accessible. Interestingly, the collection is peppered with the Jamaican vernacular, it also outlines the poetry that resides in the language.
Glave opened his reading with the essay, ‘The Blood People and the Language’. The piece outlines the writers conflicted relations with Jamaica, the space to which he feels he belongs, home to the language he longs for, a space he loves but which he declares, rejects him for the way he loves.
He then read from a work still in progress, with the working title Scenes From a Jamaican Childhood presenting a verbal kaleidoscope of memories of a childhood including snatches of overhead conversations, now contextualized by his own understanding of politics of language race and colonialism. Scenes From a Jamaican Childhood also expresses the juxtaposition of Glaves consistent delight in and desire for Jamaica which is in constant conflict with the elements he detests.
“I yearned for those tongues that had surrounded me in younger years," he read. Through these pieces of overhead conversation, Glave explores issues of identity reverberating with concepts of “broughtupsy”, and how speech and silence are drilled into the psyche of the Jamaican child.
Glave also explored sexuality, he outlined perceptions on the sex and sexuality in a delightfully colourful section which had snatches of conversations whether overheard on the street of things he had been told by his parents.
He then returned to Among the Blood People with ‘Against Preciousness’ which he explained wat the last piece to be included in the collection and while he was in residence at Cambridge University.
“Preciousness ultimately is gooey,” Glave read. “It’s the cloyingness of saccharine compliments of, small talk" he said. So instead of the precious, he was interested in real life filled with the smell of piss and shit and other bodily functions.
Glave is also the author of the Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent, Whose Song and Other Stories, and The Torturer’s Wife. Among the Blood People is published by Akashic Books.