I love travel. While I haven’t yet been able to explore the world nearly as much as I would like, whenever I do travel it’s the culture — the true culture beyond the tourist traps — of the place that fascinates me. The cuisine, the literature, the art, the fashion, the architecture, the people.
For that reason, one of the best possible souvenirs for me is a local newspaper. Recently, I was fortunate enough to receive one from Jamaica.
Obviously, each page has ads for everything from the local university to sales on appliances. But beyond that were slices of the arts in Jamaica. Local students had been involved in a huge art expo in Kingston, displaying local life and the beauty of flowing water. Next to that, a review of a new book on the life and fiction of a Jamaican author, John Hearne. Photos of perfect flowers, exotic to American eyes, and poems written by locals. (The “poem of the week” was about rum and raisin ice cream. Sounds delicious from the description!)
Perhaps the most intriguing article, though, was on a recent lecture by Kwame Dawes, professor of English at the University of Nebraska, on T.S. Elliot and Caribbean poetry. Though short and lacking details, it did mention a discussion on a fascinating similarity between the two: experimentation with voice and form. It’s been at least seven years since I’ve read Elliot or Caribbean poetry (yes, I did end up in a lit class focused on Caribbean and Latin American literature, though I don’t remember much from it now) so I don’t have much analysis to add on the topic, but it’s enough to inspire me to look into it sometime.
Have you read any foreign newspapers lately? What’s your favorite kind of souvenir?