BWSI Visiting Writer 2012 Patricia Powell

BWSI 2012 Visiting Writer Patricia Powell

“I mean, how can a man not love his son, not give two cents about his son or about the girl he’s supposed to protect? I wanted him to see me, you know, really see me. I can’t tell you what it was like everyday, everyday, that wall of silence he had round him, nobody could get in.” –The Fullness of Everything



The Bahamas Writers Summer Institute is excited to announce the imminent arrival of award winning novelist Patricia Powell, BWSI 2012 Visiting Writer!



Patricia Powell is a celebrated author who grew up in rural Jamaica and emigrated to the United States when she was sixteen. In an interview with Art Talk, while teaching at MIT in Boston, Powell tells of her early years growing up with her great aunt, who owned a shop that sold everything from New Zealand cheese to Jamaican rum; it was here that her writer self was greatly influenced and began to grow.

She says, “This shop was an amazing place. It was open all day and all night, and it was flooded with men who came to drink and smoke and talk about politics and burst open their wounds. It was a place rich with stories and drama. I think I became a writer just listening and observing. Sometimes men would quarrel and threaten each other with cutlasses and fights would break out. I learned a great deal there about tension and conflict.”

All of Powell’s novels take place in Jamaica, from Me Dyin’ Trials, which explores the lives of Jamaican women negotiating intimate relationships and the challenges of migration, to A Small Gathering of Bones, which explores the lives of gay men  in Jamaica at a time when AIDS was first erupting in communities all over the world; their love and caring for each other, as well as the challenges they had to face as gay men, to Pagoda, a lush and expansive novel that tells the story of a Chinese woman who must dress as a man to emigrate to Jamaica in the late 1800s. What each of Powell’s novels has in common is her attention to injustice. In her most recent novel, The Fullness of Everything, Powell explores domestic violence and an abusive father son relationship that must be confronted before the protagonist of the novel can truly heal. 

Powell says “I write because I have so many questions and there are no reasonable answers in sight. Writing becomes a way of investigating. I’m concerned about the way we live in the world, the injustices we heap onto other people because of difference–race, class, gender, sexual identity, cultural identity, etc. I should not have to be Chinese to write about the plight of the Chinese back in the 1800s or even today. I should not have to be gay or a gay man with AIDS to be concerned about the ways in which homophobia kills all of us, gay and straight alike. I care about people and their suffering and the ways they try to move out of their suffering, or build defenses around it, perhaps even bury themselves even more deeply inside it, because they can’t imagine any other possibility.”

In her most recent unpublished work, a memoir, Powell explores even more deeply the worlds she came from and the necessity of healing in order to be able to imagine new possibilities for living.

Powell will give a talk about her work entitled “In Search of the Masculine” on Friday, July 27th, 6-8pm, at the College of the Bahamas’ Chapter One Books; she will teach a Master Class in Fiction on Saturday, July 28th, 10am to 1pm at the College of the Bahamas Main Campus, Room F7, and give a reading of her works at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas on Sunday, July 29th, 5pm-7pm. Her books are currently on sale at Buy the Book, West Bay Street. Write to to register for Powell’s class; cost for the class is $50. Beginning and emerging and established writers welcome!

Patricia Powell is the author of Me Dying Trial, A Small Gathering of Bones, The Pagoda, and The Fullness of Everything. Her awards include the Bruce Rossley Literary Award, the Ferro-Grumley Award for Fiction, and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award. Powell has taught creative writing at MIT, Harvard University, Wellesley College, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Currently she teaches at the graduate creative writing program at Mills College in Oakland, California.


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