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Jim Clawson Michelle Cliff was born in Jamaica and grew up there and in the United States. She holds a Masters of Philosophy degree from the Warburg Institute at the University of London. Cliff is the author of three novels: Abeng, No Telephone, Free Enterprise, the short story collection Bodies of Water, and her essays have appeared in such publications as Ms. and The Village Voice. Jim Clawson is an MFA Candidate at the University of Pittsburgh and a former student of Michelle Cliff’s. Your work has been described as an attempt to revise "Monolithic History?" Who said that? Monolithic? As far as writing about the Caribbean I think that I am trying to revise a colonized history, a history that's been interpreted from a European perspective only, and I'm trying to revision it as a history that is more complex. I don't like the word "Monolithic;" it sounds so heavy handed, but that's a critical thing, so.... I had trouble with the term revised. So much of your work seems to be about revealing. I would say "re-vision" In the sense of re-visioning something, not in the sense of revising as in correcting it, or editing it, but in trying to see something from a different point of view. In an article you wrote for Ploughshares you’re discussing two prisons, most specifically the Fishkill Correctional Facility near San Francisco, and you write that: "One of these places reminds me of another." It's about places of captivity. Writing about Fishkill Prison allows you to write about other
Absolutely. their imaginations captive. So I don't use just the King's English that's imposed on me. And captivity being the physical act of holding people in one place. find alternative meanings for the same words. like in South Africa.. American English. yeah. whatever . Go to part: 1. which I refer to in that piece also. use the English language in a way where I own it. and it’s not something imposed on me. So much of what a writer does is unconscious. 2. . including Caribbean English. that's connected up certainly to reconstructing history. I think that's how it goes. as well as the severing of the wing. but there's a sense of liberation in being able to reconstruct one's own language. I like to use it to liberate myself and to.. I guess.in language. it could well be.prisons as well? I think so. About us | Contents | Contributors | Submissions | Letters | Links Home . and also reconstructing experience." As the wing and the section of the wing. I like to play with language a lot. That seems to suggest a meeting place for two contradictory ideas -. It's like a concrete representation of a landscape of captivity and that leads you to see other places of captivity. like I do with "pinion". The elimination of flight. I was struck by the two juxtaposed definitions of "pinion. But also the metaphor of holding people captive. Literary English. Jim Clawson nidus is an online publication supported by the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh's English Department. 4 (Printer Friendly Version) Copyright 2002. 3. In Claiming an Identity they Taught Me to Despise. . I use all the different versions of English that I've experienced. that it becomes mine.