Category Archives: actualization

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Write from all four corners. From the rise of all the seasons. The beauty and the ugly. With this, you’ll write everyday!

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Re-Establishing my Journey

Years ago I decided I would not never become a teacher. I envisioned it as confinement. I am a creature of routine BUT I do not want one imposed on me. I always saw being an educator as someone who was doomed with routine and rewarded with low pay. That was not the life I wanted to live.

As time and the ancestors would have it, my poetry created a platform for me to engage my art at colleges and universities. Not just as the “entertainment” but additionally as an educator to young writers on the importance of preserving the black vernacular. My art eventually evolved to focusing on the feminine narrative. Encouraging the black feminine voice expressed and written from a holistic perspective and not just as a presence to move a plot forward. These discussions exposed two things, (1) I had more questions than answers and needed to do more research to educate myself (2) I was pretty good at this teaching thing.

My community knows me primarily as a performance poet and from the theatre. Both of these creative platforms allowed me to express undivided and intellectually intact. I had the company to be beautiful and the security to laugh at myself and others. As I immersed myself more with the writing community, plays and novels, I felt absent- invisible even. I was stifled with this feeling once before when I studied film at Howard University for my M.A. In screenplay writing, I didn’t have the company of voice, meaning the character written or represented on film, was not a bridged visualization of my existence as a woman. A black woman, a woman of color living in this country. My questions about the presence or the acceptance of what was represented as the black feminine narrative, now became a plaque of concerns. That was until I got my hands on Toni Morrison’s “Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination”.

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Thankful for Toni Morrison

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“A literary artist of the first rank.”

“She delves into the language itself, a language she wants to liberate from the fetters of race. And she addresses us with the luster of poetry.”

Those words are from the Nobel Committee that awarded Ms. Morrison her Nobel Prize in Literature on this day in 1993.

Her acceptance speech spoke of ‘spreading like algae because this prize is being distributed to various regions and nations and races.’  Morrison shared this win with women, the mid west, the east coast and African Americans.  She is one of the reasons I am in love with pen to pad.  Why I love words to dreams.  Why I am courageous enough to speak my vernacular.

People do speak highly of my art.  And I have been used in some really nice analogies during introductions to stages.  And for that, I am thankful for Toni Morrison.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Danai Gurira!

Wait, whose birthday is it? Danai Gurira, from “The Walking Dead” and “Black Panther”:

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On my research journey, I am documenting and inserting any significant absence of information on women in theatre. See, not only is Gurira an amazing and versatile actress, she is also a playwright.  Her play, “Eclipse” was the first play to premiere on Broadway with an all female and black cast and creative team. (Yes, after all these years, we are still creating “firsts” for black people!) The play is set in war-torn Liberia and focuses on three women who are living as sex slaves to a rebel commander, and is about how they deal with this difficult situation. The play was inspired by a photograph of female fighters and their tale of survival.

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And as you can see the play starred the beautiful and talented, Lupita Nyong’o.

So today I salute Danai Gurira and encourage you to learn more about her and buy tickets to “Eclipse” if it comes to your city. I saw a production of it here in Atlanta and the story creates suspense and chills!

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Stunning! Danai Gurira

Happy Birthday to playwright, Judi Ann Mason!

I dared to pursue my passion of studying theatre at Grambling State University. One of the first plays produced upon me entering was, “Livin’ Fat” by Judi Ann Mason. The theatre director so often bragged on how this play was written by his “class mate” and how she had written it while still attending Grambling. I didn’t think much of the playwright after the production until years later and I was living in Los Angeles.

One day I was watching the tv show, “Different World” and the writer credit for that episode read, Judi Ann Mason. It was then I found out she was more than a playwright born, raised and educated in the south. She was an award winning writer and a trailblazer for black writers in Hollywood.

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The play, “Livin Fat” was produced off Broadway in 1976 by the Negro Ensemble Company, and won a comedy award sponsored by the Kennedy Center and television producer Norman Lear. Lear then hired her as a writer for the series “Good Times” and she went on to write for “Sanford”, “A Different World”, “Beverly Hills 90210” and “I’ll Fly Away.”

Judi Ann Mason, was one of the first female African-American sitcom writers in Hollywood and one of the youngest television writers of any race or either sex. As I am researching for my studies, re-discovering black women playwrights is imperative on my path. So today, we honor Judi Ann Mason! We remember you and thank you!

what was I thinking?…

What was I thinking?” was the question I asked myself quite often over the past four months. This was how I felt…

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I knew I was there! I knew I was sitting there and reading and walking around and driving, etc. Sometimes it was crystal clear and other times everything was a blur! But when I say I underestimated how much energy would be exerted working full-time and going back for future PhD studies…

I underestimated,

I shot it short,

I miscued my intuition

I WAS BUSY!

A good busy. A purposeful busy. A busy that was full of intent but absolutely overwhelming at times. But I went back in searching for a language that boxed black women writers (in particular playwrights) within criticisms and criteria that hindered expansion and an honest representation. I chose Clark Atlanta University and their Africana Womens Studies Department.

I went into the program wanting to study black women in fiction literature. But decided to look into researching black women playwrights instead. Besides, theatre is my first love and this would give me a chance to honor the art form that got me started.

Last fall I also entered my second year of teaching elementary English Language Arts (ELA). So I confidently entered my fourth career change! But educating children during the day, on various learning levels, and then going to school in the evening until 7 and 7:30 p.m. could’ve taken a toll. And least we not forget the three teenagers living in my house!

Organization was crucial and kept me afloat. Sleeping when my body said “lay down” and closing my eyes when I was seeing double aided in my relationship with sanity as well. 🙂 After a decade or so being out of school, I managed to pull off some incredible grades! And on top of that, I put my money where my mouth was by setting an example of time management and effective studying skills for my teens.

Continue reading what was I thinking?…