Personalities find themselves in Leicester from time to time, and sometimes these great minds can even be persuaded to hang out on campus for a while. Last year, Literary Leicester saw, among others, the feminist icon Germaine Greer give a revealing lecture on her views regarding the last forty years of gender politics; this year, equally notable was the presence of Ben Okri, OBE, FRSL, who gave the first of the university’s Annual Creative Writing Lectures. I was there.
Yes, I was there, but was I in the same place as Ben Okri? His lecture on form, content, and the word formed at the start of the universe was on another plane entirely. You don’t rise as high in the literary world as Ben Okri by saying the same things other people have said. It was about the halfway point when I realised I probably should have read some of his books. And I still plan to, once I’ve done some things.
Mr Okri stepped down to my level when his lecture drew to an end and he invited questions. People weren’t particularly desperate to follow that act, so he asked himself a question – a question which he addressed also to the audience: why do you write? With charming interest he listened to people’s answers, and with charming indifference he transcended the time limit the room was booked for. He’s a great guy.