Fred D'Aguiar, 27th Annual ODU Literary Festival
Hampton/Newport News Room, Webb University Center
Poet, novelist and playwright Fred D'Aguiar was born in London in 1960 to Guyanese parents. He lived in Guyana until he was 12, returning to England in 1972.
He trained as a psychiatric nurse before reading African and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kent, Canterbury, graduating in 1985. His first collection of poetry, Mama Dot (1985), was published to much acclaim and established his reputation as one of the finest British poets of his generation. Along with Airy Hall (1989), it won the Guyanese National Poetry Award in 1989 and was followed by British Subjects (1993). His first novel, The Longest Memory (1994), tells the story of Whitechapel, a slave on an eighteenth-century Virginia plantation and won both the David Higham Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread First Novel Award. It was adapted for television and televised by Channel 4 in the UK. His long poem 'Sweet Thames' was broadcast as part of the BBC 'Worlds on Film' series in 1992, winning the Commission for Racial Equality Race in the Media Award.
Fred D'Aguiar was Judith E. Wilson Fellow at Cambridge University (1989-90), Visiting Writer at Amherst College, Amherst, MA (1992-4), and was Assistant Professor of English at Bates College, Lewiston, ME (1994-5). His plays include High Life, which was first produced at the Albany Empire in London in 1987, and A Jamaican Airman Foresees His Death, performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1991. He is also the author of the novels Dear Future (1996), set on a fictional Caribbean island, and Feeding the Ghosts (1997), inspired by a visit D'Aguiar made to the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool and based on the true story of a slave who survived being thrown overboard with 132 other men, women and children from a slave ship in the Atlantic.
Recent poetry includes Bill of Rights (1998), a long narrative poem about the Jonestown massacre in Guyana in 1979, and a new long narrative poem, Bloodlines, the story of a black slave and her white lover, published in 2000.
Fred D'Aguiar is co-director of the Creative Writing Program at Virginia Tech. His fourth novel, Bethany Bettany (2003), is centred on a five-year-old Guyanese girl, Bethany, whose suffering symbolises that of a nation seeking to make itself whole again.
D'Aguiar read on Wednesday, October 6th, 2004 at 10:00 a.m.
D'Aguiar, Fred, "Fred D'Aguiar, 27th Annual ODU Literary Festival" (2004). 27th Annual Literary Festival at ODU: October 4-8, 2004. 1.