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Kilgour Dowdy tells artful stories

Sunday, May 22, 2011
Dr Joanne Kilgour Dowdy

T&T born US-based writer and Kent State University professor, Dr Joanne Kilgour Dowdy, is due to release yet another book. Artful Stories: The Teacher, the Student, and the Muse, is currently being prepared for printing and will be released by year’s end from Peter Lang Publishers. It will be added to Kilgour Dowdy’s growing body of publications including Readers of the Quilt, The Skin that We Speak (with Dr Lisa Delpit, McArthur Genius Fellow), PhD Stories: Conversations With My Sisters, GED Stories, Teaching Drama in the Classroom and recently In The Public Eye. The book focuses on the personal narratives of four black, male artists who teach in higher education institutions and perform as professionals in their field.

The artists are originally from Trinidad and have been working as professionals and teachers for more than 30 years. Their contributions to the arts in the USA and Canada as dancer/choreographer,  dramatist/director, lighting designer, and musician/composer need to be documented as part of the history of the important role of immigrant artists to the development of teaching practices in higher education. Because they are black, male and immigrant, their work as creative artists has not been considered (or has been relegated to the periphery) in the tradition of  teacher/performer practices. This is the first academic project that looks at them as a “community” of scholars working across international boundaries to enhance literacy, as a communicative art form, and to build leaders for the next generation of artists.

The reader comes away with insight, from these men’s collective perspective, into the art of stage and theatre performance and production. In his pre-publication review of the book Terrence Wendell Brathwaite, senior lecturer/higher education manager of the University of Worcester, United Kingdom, said Kilgour Dowdy has skillfully essayed an “unbuntugogical meeting place in the minds of the reader where she compels us to interface chthonic folkways of survival with Caliban reasoning and the scientificitiy of high education, through the prodigious life-views of four North American “foreign-natives” who alchemised their own styles of aspiration from the ‘belly’ of Antillean Drama & Theatre Arts to the ubiquitous world stage.”

J Lee Greene, Emeritus Prof of the Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that in telling the stories of the four black men, Kilgour Dowdy was able to “tell a collective story of a ‘family’ of artists integral to the production of stage performances worldwide. “Readers interested in immigrant studies will find that the individual stories of these four men shed significant light on how not just artists but other immigrants from the Caribbean remain deeply rooted  in their national culture while successfully integrating into other cultures in North America and in Europe.” Kilgour Dowdy saw the need to write Artful Stories, she said, “There are works that look at an individual in a particular setting (like) Dr Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize Winner, or the poetry of Kamau  Braithwaite. But no book sets down the story as told by the artist himself, who is working in higher education in the USA or Canada and training young people for their leadership roles in the development of their discipline.”


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