Books That Inspire 2004


 
The Palm-Wine Drinkard and His Dead Palm-Wine Tapster in the Dead's Town
Amos Tutuola


I grew up with radio and listened avidly to the storytelling even before I could read. I loved the flow of words and the sounds that accompanied the tales. They encouraged a rich and unlimited imagination. In 1969 Professor William Sylvester introduced me to a number of international writers in an English course at SUNY at Buffalo. Among the authors covered was African writer Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard. It was with considerable pleasure that I rediscovered the sensibilities that I recalled in my youth listening to the radio. The experience of reading Tutuola aloud harkens to the movement of words in your mouth and the sounds that they make in your head. Visions are conjured up about these persons and journeys taken.

In the intervening years, I frequently assign this novel to my photography students. The impact that imagination plays in response to one’s environment contributes to the quality of visual creativity. Additionally it opens the way to connecting with others in our global community.
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Andrew Strout
Associate Professor
Art and Photography