Lecture with Ben Okri

I went to listen a lecture given by Ben Okri, Booker Prize winner (and many others) African writer, who loves to mix folklore and reality in his works. I must confess I hadn’t read anything by him by the time I went to see on his lecture on Tuesday. However, I did feel bad about that, so I got Starbook and read that. Took me one night, lots of “THE HOW?!?” and yet left me with very giggly feeling in the morning. Yes, at some point it was tediously slow-paced even for me, but altogether I really liked it.

On that lecture Okri read us some of his poems and a short story before continuing with a small essay about creativity. Estonians are famous for their silence and he unfortunately met the same faith, although he did manage to get SOME discussion out of us, so I consider that a very good achievement.

I found the entire event very controversial. Not because of the topic, but of what went on during that time. It felt strange most of the time, because his main topic throughout his recite was chaos, yet we sat in a huge classic white hall with order in everything, including the chairs we moved around. When I told mom later that we moved the chairs, she nearly had a heart attack – guests don’t usually do that in that room. Order. That’s the name of that room.

While he was reading his short story “the Clock”, I saw a young boy going in circles around us, tracing every window ledge. He did this the entire time and despite the story being about a man going crazy over an image of a clock he notices on the chest of his opponent, I couldn’t but watch that small boy, not older than 12, going round and round and round like hourly pointer. The moment the recite ended, the boy also disappeared after mom pulled him down his trajectory.

I know he tried to do it very general to try to build a conversation, but I do feel that at least half of the folks there were more interested in him as a person, rather than writing in general. However, there was something he said that knocked me over, because it solved on dilemma I was having with one story. 🙂

The weirdest encounter? I’ve been saying hello with this guy on the street for several times – had no idea who he was!



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