KB: One thing about catastrophe, for me, is that it always seems to lead to a kind of magical realism. That moment of utter disaster, the very moment when it seems almost hopeless, too difficult to proceed, you begin to glimpse a kind of radiance on the other end of the maelstrom.

JM: Another way in which Nature rises up to intervene is the sort of experience you’ve had with—I don’t know if I’m pronouncing this right—Namsetoura?

KB: Yes. Namsetoura. "Nam" is a concept of mind which is the opposite of man’s mind, "man" spelt backwards, and "nam" also means an imperishable spirit; so "man" is a distortion of "nam."  And Namse is a version of Anansi the Spider. So the spider is part of the "Nam" and the "Nam" is a part of the Spider. And "toura" is a way of telling stories.


From Joyelle McSweeney's conversation with Kamau shortly after the publication of Born to Slow Horses. Click here to read the full interview which appeared in the Fall 2005 edition of Rain Taxi.

Also from Rain Taxi, this review of Kamau's ConVERSations with Nathaniel Mackey.

Video link: "Body & Soul," the Coleman Hawkins classic referenced in the "9/11" sequence of poems in Born to Slow Horses.