Tag Archives: literary legends

Toni Cade Bambara, the scholar

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This book. Is. Absolutely. Brilliant.

“The Salt Eaters” is one of those books that took me years to read. For some reason, I always seemed to begin to read it and after the first few pages I had to put it down. Part because I couldn’t grasp the concept of what was going on and because I had too much going on in my life. See, this book demands you be abandoned when you read it. After finally reading the book, I realized it was difficult to read because it was personal. It felt like a conversation I would have with my girlfriends. It was “an older book” that was still relevant. It gave me the feel of a Zora Neale Hurston book or Toni Morrison. It is time bending and revolutionary.

I was introduced to Bambara around the time I began to consume myself with literature from black women. The summer going in to my sophomore year of undergraduate school when I sat on the library floor and found Sanchez, Shange, Giovanni, Walker, Brooks, Jordan, Clifton to name a few. I was a theatre student, who also loved poetry, scouring for material to perform and interpret for auditions and competitions. Bambara was one of the names that kept coming up so I kept her on my list of authors that “changed the game”.

Those who know me know that I am a thrift store book shopper. I never buy used books for over $3.00 and one day (years ago) I came across this book:

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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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Celebrating Zora!

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It’s not too late to join the annual festivities in the name of the literary icon, Zora Neale Hurston:

https://zorafestival.org/

What Are The ZORA!™ Festival’s Goals ?
  • To celebrate the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston
  • To celebrate the historic significance of Eatonville
  • To celebrate the cultural contributions which people of African ancestry have made to the United States and to world culture

Happy Birthday Zora Neal Hurston!

Re-membering an amazing writer, an iconic contributor to American literature,

Zora Neale Hurston

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Hurston’s works touched on the African-American experience and her struggles as an African-American woman. Her novels went relatively unrecognized by the literary world for decades, but interest revived after author Alice Walker. Her most infamous work is, “Their Eyes Were Watching God”.

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