Tag Archives: toni morrison

vacation in history

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I was planning a trip to the beach. Fortunately, Atlanta affords me the leisure of choosing between various Georgia Islands, or a few hours drive to Florida, South Carolina or the coast of Alabama. I decided to do a quick turn around trip to one of the Golden Isles off the coast of Georgia. Distracted, I began to flip through Facebook and came across an article about Igbo Landing or Ebo landing.

“The Igbo Landing occurred when Igbo slaves who had taken control of their ship marched into the water and drowned at Dunbar Creek on St. Simons Island, Glynn County, Georgia.

After surviving the rigours of the Middle Passage, the 75 Igbo slaves who were bought for labour on the plantations of John Couper and Thomas Spalding for 100 dollars each.

The slaves were chained and put aboard a small ship to be transported to their destinations. During this voyage, they took control of the ship and grounded it, drowning their captors in the process.”

(from the site pulse.ng)

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I looked up St. Simons Island and discovered it was a mere 4.5 hours away and I could choose lodging on the island or in nearby Brunswick, Ga. There are so many stories to be told. So many lands to be visited and honored or memorialized, and as a writer I believe there are always new words to discover. New smells and newly uncovered ways to describe emotions. So I booked my lodging, fueled up the Buick, and hit the road.

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Someone Should’ve Called Me

August 5, 2019

I woke up late this day. It’s not clear to me right now how it was revealed to me… I’m sure if I sat in mediation and thought about it things would come back. But, thinking about this day still make my nose sting. You know that sting that happens before your eyes water…

I woke to the news that Toni Morrison had passed. I was heartbroken. I felt like she left me, like she should’ve had someone call me to let me know she wasn’t feeling well. No, we didn’t have a relationship like that but… she had been with me all of my adult life and so I just thought… I guess I thought she would stay around like the books on my shelf. Am I making sense?

I had just been in contact with her production company this past summer for private screenings of her movie in Atlanta, “The Pieces I Am”. The movie that has the wings to change the process of writing just as her books change people as readers and thinkers. I had just bought her book, “The Source of Self-Regard” as my summer reading as I traveled. I…. cried. I just flat out cried. I, like the world, felt the energy shift. It went from powerful to immensely powerful with her transition.

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On social media, I had seen several of my friends attend memorials and remembrances celebrating their artistic experiences with Morrison. I was speaking with a friend and expressed how I had not had the opportunity to mourn, laugh, share my love of Morrison in an intimate setting. She offered her studio space for “Tea with Toni”.

img_20190922_2218308170029858474793464.jpgWe got together and shared our favorite characters and passages from her books. I read from “Sula” and had time permitted, I would’ve shared my favorite pages from “Song of Solomon” when Milkman received his nickname. (that is some good writing!) It was so serene to be around other creatives who needed this space to discuss such an important literary figure, the Pulitzer Prize winner author, Toni Morrison. A genius wordsmith. The sole creator of language(s) for the preservation of humanity, communities and black women. She fearlessly showed the world our beauty. Shared with the orbits our sweetly spiced tongues.

Mother Toni, we see you smiling

we see those fingers pressed together for rhythmic snaps / grooving.

Thank you for everything and all!

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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a Higher Re-Education Program (Writer’s Edition)

“The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.” -Toni Morrison

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As a young girl, my mother had to chose what utilities she would keep on and which ones she would let go to keep my sister, brother and I fed and clothed.  Phone service NEVER made the “stay on” list and gas service was optional during summer months.  Cable television was not discussed in my home because we only had two televisions and they were black and white. (yes, color televisions were available and no I won’t tell the year or my age).  My escape was reading.  The easiest series of books to find in sequential collections at thrift stores at the time were the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  And I read them all!  Continue reading a Higher Re-Education Program (Writer’s Edition)

B-E-L-O-V-E-D | hip hop

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I remember when the Nobel Prize winning book, ‘Beloved’, was made into a movie.   I was relieved I was finally going to be able to understand what the book was talking about.  Like other Morrison fans, I understand that to indulge in one of her books you have to completely abandon yourself and become involved in the art.  ‘Beloved’ was one of those books I had not been able to finish because I found it too complex.  Or maybe it wasn’t complex at all, perhaps it was the direction that didn’t allow me to finish the book.  I remember the narrative being very haunting when it spoke to me.  There were times in the book when it spoke directly to me and I felt like I had to protect or defend for myself.

The other day when riding in my car, my 12 year old niece wanted desperately to listen to a hip hop radio station.  Even though the language is altered to be radio ready,  I cannot stomach the majority of the new hip hop music today.  I agreed to let her change the channel from my jazz station and we began to listen to a song, “hit her with a left, hit her with a right, I’mma knock her out like fight night!” (those aren’t the exact words but definitely the intent and close to it).  My niece knew the words and sat happy smiling and bouncing in the passenger side dancing to the song.

When we got home, I got on the internet and pulled the song up.  I called my niece in my room and let her hear the real lyrics, “hit her with a left, hit her with a right, I’mma knock that p*ssy out like fight night!”  The expression on my nieces’ face changed solemn.  It was a mixture of embarrassment and disappointment.  Needless to say, I was pleased to see that the narrative disturbed her and she didn’t want to listen to the whole song.

Continue reading B-E-L-O-V-E-D | hip hop