Last month, Dr. Niyi Osundare gave one of the most unique and unforgettable readings that 1718 has experienced in the past few years. Osundare was able to draw upon his Nigerian heritage to combine musicality with his writings to create an incredible original and touching reading.
Osundare opened by singing a traditional Nigerian song which was meant to invoke both mourning and hope from its listeners. It was was a perfect way to set the mood for his work: "City Without People" a collection of works recounting his experiences regarding Hurricane Katrina. Throughout the entire reading, Osundare played with sound, intonation, and music in a way that I had never seen a speaker do before. In this same vein, Osundare utilized a technique to reach and engage his audience that is usually reserved singularly for music, specifically jazz, performances: the call and response.
During the reading, I took down a few notes and memorable quotes in order to write this post. While rereading this list, I found myself meditating upon many of his quotes. I don't feel like I can do his eloquence justice by trying to interpret or integrate these little jewels into a blog post, so I'm choosing just to leave you tonight with a few quotes that I'm particularly fond of. I hope to see many of you tonight at the Columns!
"Nothing stands alone" just because you can't see it, doesn't mean that it's not there
New Orleans became "This Big Uneasy" (regarding Hurricane Katrina)
"New Orleans is not a city, it is an idea"And my (incredibly biased) favorite:
1718 is a "feast for the mind" and gives local literature "the priority it deserves"