Tuesday, February 9, 2010

thingsimreading: Black American Women You Need to Know Day 09:...


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via guerrilla mama on 2/9/10


Black American Women You Need to Know

Day 09: Alice Walker

Picture of Alice Walker and her partner, Garrett Larson, in 2009, via Alice Walker's Garden

So, i said that i would post on Alice Walker because i reference her so frequently, even when writing about other women for this series. The reason that i notice the connection to Alice in unusual places is that she was really the one who opened up the world of feminism/womanism to me and set me on a journey of self-discovery.

In 2001, i was at a Goodwill store browsing the books and ran across Alice Walker's The Temple of My Familiar. All i knew was that it was a Black woman with dreads who wrote it and that she was the author of The Color Purple, which i had never read or seen the movie of but knew was important. i happened to pick up one of Maya Angelou's books (one of her series of autobiographical works, the first of hers that i ever read as well) at the same time. i guess i was looking for women of color to read, trying to find my own voice and trying to connect with something that i hoped i might fit into better than the rest of my life had offered. Being NDN but raised in a white family was difficult, and being Muslim with no local Muslim friends was also hard for me to deal with. i didn't feel like i belonged anywhere. So, i bought the books.

i read The Temple of My Familiar all in one sitting. My Nicaraguan fiancée brought a friend over to my mom's house to watch a fútbol game on the big screen. i failed to be a good entertainer because i was so engrossed in the book the whole time. i guess that turned out to be a good thing, since it set the tone of that marriage and at least he knew what he was getting. Anyway, that was my introduction to Alice Walker.

In The Temple of My Familiar, Walker tries something almost destined to fail.

She challenges the West's Eurocentric vision of the world — its myths of human origins, its concepts of history, its ideas on political relationships, its attitudes toward the environment, its views on male/female relationships.

via The Temple of My Familiar: Short Guide on Bookrags

Shortly after i started buying up all of her books that i could find, and borrowing from the library what i hadn't yet bought. Alice Walker opened up my mind to a whole new world; i didn't feel like i was reading fiction at all but the life story of the world before colonization.

Although reading her led me on a search to read many others as well, The Temple of My Familiar remains my favorite novel ever and she remains my favorite poet. i don't always agree with everything she says, all of the stances she takes, but i recognize the love that centers her and i thank her for opening doors to me i never knew existed.

Alice Walker's Blog

I said to Poetry:"I'm finished
with you."
Having to almost die
before some wierd light
comes creeping through
is no fun.
"No thank you, Creation,
no muse need apply.
Im out for good times—
at the very least,
some painless convention."

Poetry laid back
and played dead
until this morning.
I wasn't sad or anything,
only restless.

Poetry said: "You remember
the desert, and how glad you were
that you have an eye
to see it with? You remember
that, if ever so slightly?"
I said: "I didn't hear that.
Besides, it's five o'clock in the a.m.
I'm not getting up
in the dark
to talk to you."

Poetry said: "But think about the time
you saw the moon
over that small canyon
that you liked so much better
than the grand one—and how suprised you were
that the moonlight was green
and you still had
one good eye
to see it with

Think of that!"

"I'll join the church!" I said,
huffily, turning my face to the wall.
"I'll learn how to pray again!"

"Let me ask you," said Poetry.
"When you pray, what do you think
you'll see?"

Poetry had me.

"There's no paper
in this room," I said.
"And that new pen I bought
makes a funny noise."

"Bullshit," said Poetry.
"Bullshit," said I.

via Phat African American Poetry Index


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