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Audio: Kathleen Jamie’s "Sabbath"

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Because of time constraints, I wasn’t able to finish my lecture to my first-year class on Prose Non-Fiction at the University of British Columbia on Wednesday, October 3, 2013. I was set to talk about Kathleen Jamie’sessay “Sabbath,” from her collection Findings(2005), but I had to finish up some discussion of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. So, about a week later, I have tried to wind things up with this improvised audio podcast. I was talking in my lecture about forms of framing, and frame narrative, as well as Satrapi’s sense of a divided subject, and I wanted to dovetail some of these ideas into my reading of Jamie’s brilliant essay. One recurrent theme in Jamie’s work is the shortfall of language — she suggests that poetry, that writing itself, emerges from (and in) this shortfall. Instead of a frame, she creates a kind of frayed, open-ended counterpoint in “Sabbath.” She addresses the complexities of place and displacement, of the monumental and the entropic, of the global and the local, and the challenges of translation, of multiple, partial and incommensurate discourses. And she does all this in a language that is limpid, engaging and open-hearted.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this podcast on \”Sabbath.\” I'd just finished reading the essay, and I googled it to see the best way I could share it with family members and friends, and landed here on your blog.I like your observations of Jamie searching out (attending to) metaphors that appear naturally in life, and then spending the time of the whole essay with the metaphor and bringing the reader carefully along with her journey towards understanding.When I reached the end of your podcast, I was disappointed not to hear more critique/analysis about the personal–that concluding conversation between her and her sister and her grandmother. It is one thing to write about un-inscribed cairns and cemeteries at the end of the road, but to be able to open her heart to us and invite us into the room with her sister and grandmother–that is what stuns me about her writing. And left tears in my eyes. I wish I could do that.

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