[ilds] he was reading Lawrence Durrell

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Sun Jan 27 07:53:10 PST 2008


*Saipan Tribune
Local
Monday, January 28, 2008
http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?newsID=76489&cat=1
Over 100 show up for Kluge lecture*

Noted author PF (Fred) Kluge of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, 
delivers his lecture entitled "Writing on Saipan: Writing About Saipan" 
sponsored by the NMI Council for the Humanities at the Visitors' Center 
Theater of the American Memorial Park Friday night. (Jacqueline 
Hernandez) More than a hundred people packed the American Memorial Park 
Visitors Center Theater Friday night as they gathered for a lecture by a 
prominent author who has written several books and articles about Saipan.

"Writing on Saipan: Writing About Saipan" by PF (Fred) Kluge is part of 
Humanities Lecture Series by the NMI Council for the Humanities.

"I am not gonna. speak in any way in judgment of what's going on in this 
place. What I am, however, and it's what brings me here, is a writer," 
began Kluge, who first came to Saipan in 1967 as a Peace Corps 
Volunteer. He was then 25.

Kluge narrated that *he was reading a work of writer Lawrence Durrell 
*and was motivated by his decision to request for Ethiopia for his 
volunteer work but was sent to Saipan instead. "I don't think that my 
total time on the island aggregates. my years of Peace Corps service. 
I'm here because I have a long memory of the place, although the time is 
short but the exposure is over a long period of time."

As a writer, Kluge has traveled to different places like Tasmania, 
Vienna, and Malacca to name a few. He draws a parallel between the 
experience of travel to that of being a kid. "You're a kid. Your talk is 
baby talk to prove that you care as a newcomer. And you are exported to 
safe places and kept away from dangerous ones."

In his lecture, Kluge differentiated the kinds of writing he has done 
about Saipan. "The first is non-fiction. It really happens as reported. 
You can't make things up, you cannot create character, you cannot 
fabricate quote, you have to tell things pretty straightforwardly as 
they happened or you cheated. Fiction is a made-up story."

He added that the argument for fiction was "writing to get at truth, 
inventing things that never happened. And people would believe this. the 
human conviction discovers its underlying truth and important patterns."

Kluge reminisced about his stay on the island at that time. He recounted 
in detail and quoted from his published works how he saw Saipan and the 
rest of Micronesia at that time.

Even when he got back to the mainland and had a job there, he said that 
"my heart is some place else. At least part of me is left behind here 
wondering what on earth is going on."

Kluge told his audience how he kept on waiting for an opportunity to 
come back to the islands. ".it's a constant return to a place. you don't 
just write one book, cross the topic off your list, say 'been there, 
done that,' (then) move on to the next thing. my intent in going back to 
Micronesia was. to see what had happened to him, what had happened to 
the place, a little bit about what had happened to me while I had been 
away."

In 2004, Kluge came back for the commemoration of the 60th Anniversary 
of the Battle in Saipan. His written piece appeared in Antioch Review. 
"The description that I gave, the point was to explain to the vets what 
happened since they left, since the war, to connect the Saipan they 
remember to the Saipan they're visiting now. to make the connection. And 
I tried to describe the Saipan that I had found when I arrived here in 
the '60s."

Kluge rationalized why Saipan is important to him. "There's a closer 
weave of life on islands that you confront the eternal questions on a 
smaller scale. that everybody sort of knows everybody. that it's a 
proper place to come to terms to life. that human nature reveals itself 
to be discovered, discussed, dramatized on an island."

Kluge, who holds a PhD from the University of Chicago, is currently 
teaching at Kenyon College in Ohio. Kluge worked for Wall Street 
Journal, Life magazine, and National Geographic Traveler and wrote 
articles for Playboy, Rolling Stone, and Smithsonian. At present, he is 
working on his 10th book, which also covers Saipan.

-- 
**********************
Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu
**********************

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