Posted: Tuesday September 28, 2010
How to Write It on Your Heart

In his essay “Godzilla vs Post-Colonial”, Thomas King uses the term “interfusional” to describe literature which is a mix of both oral and written narratives, including Harry Robinson‘s Write It on Your Heart. Although the tales in this collection are written in English, the grammatical structures as well as the themes and characters are all excellent examples of oral literature.

Harry Robinson succeeds in designing and developing a series of stories in which the reader is encouraged to read them aloud. This, in King’s eyes, helps to avoid the problem of losing the voice of the storyteller and audience, which is the biggest complaint about transferring oral literature to the written word.

Thomas King has a great deal more to say on the passing along of Robinson’s stories from oral form to text and then back to oral form:

It is not that in reading the stories we hear the ‘illusion’ of an oral voice, for other writers have been able to accomplish this; it is that in reading Robinson, one is virtually forced to read the story out loud, thereby closing the circle, the oral becoming the written becoming the oral.

“I’m going to disappear,” Harry Robinson told one reporter, “and there’ll be no more telling stories.”

He passed away in 1990—shortly after the publication of Write It on Your Heart, a finalist for the 1990 BC Book Prize and the first of three story collections which will ensure the survival of his epic world in many generations to come.

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