words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Ntozake Shange

“Where there is woman, there is magic.” – Ntozake Shange

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The tragic recent passing of playwright and poet Ntozake Shange inspired me to write this post. Shange’s death in October 2018 both surprised and saddened me.  I had no idea that she had been ill for over a decade, after experiencing a series of strokes. I take comfort in knowing that her words are immortal and will continue to touch hearts and minds for time immemorial.

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I became familiar with Shange’s work nearly ten years ago, after seeing the live-action movie “ For Colored Girls”, directed by Tyler Perry. While I wasn’t particularly impressed with the movie (the original work was a stage play and I feel is best experienced through life theater), I fell in love with the words and stories being told by Shange.

The most inspirational part of Shange’s legacy is the insistence upon creating her own identity. From changing her legal name to aiming to craft what she described as a “special aesthetic” for black women, she continued to form her own identity in a world that’s operates upon putting minorities into fixed boxes. Even for her most famous work,  for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, Shange had to craft new language to describe what she created. She titled her work a choreopoem, which merged music, poetry, prose, dance, and song in an innovating and inspiring way.

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I don’t want to belabor this post with overanalyzing Shange’s incredible literary career and legacy. I’d much prefer that you all learn more about her for yourselves. I’m going to add a couple of links from YouTube for your enjoyment. And, in her memory, take some time today to create something new. Your soul will thank you for it.

 

I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

(photos courtesy of QuoteParrot, AZQuotes and TheQuotesIn)

words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Gwendolyn Brooks

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“We are each other’s magnitude and bond” – Gwendolyn Brooks

On this 18th anniversary of her passing, I wanted to share some quotes from Gwendolyn Brooks, a poet and author that I learned about as a child but had somewhat forgotten as an adult.

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It’s not that I don’t recall the words to “We Real Cool” by heart (because I do). But as with many things, we get exposed to new art, new poetry, new thoughts . . . And that which we knew as children tends to fade a bit. While thinking about some of the people I wanted to feature in the “Words of Wisdom” series, Brooks popped into my mind. I remember being a young girl and seeing the announcement of her passing in a magazine that I was reading. She lived a long and full life, and we are fortunate that she decided to share her talents with us.

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She was the first African American to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize. She captured life in Chicago during the post-Depression era, and her writing straddled the fine line of writing honestly while preserving the dignity of her subjects. She was also Illinois’s Poet Laureate in 1968 and a Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for the Library of Congress.

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Brooks led a particularly quiet life: she was a wife and mother. She lived in Chicago all of her life, and found her inspiration among the neighborhoods where she grew up and raised her own children.

In memory of Gwendolyn Brooks: thank you for your work.

 

(Photos courtesy of majeherself, AZQuotes, wordsonimages, and Rhapsody in Books)

 

words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Nikki Giovanni

Happy Friday, friends! Whew, we made it through the week, and it’s almost the end of the fiscal year, so I’m officially DONE with all of my year-end closing tasks. Life is grand!

I figured it was time for another Words of Wisdom post because I’ve been leaning heavily on the wisdom of others as I’ve tried to stay balanced and calm during this stressful period at work. I’ve found myself reading a little poetry to unwind a bit in the evenings.

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[…]I am so hip even my errors are correct[…]

This singular line was one of the things that made me stop and really pay attention when I first read “Ego Tripping (There May Be A Reason Why)” by Nikki Giovanni years ago. And when I came across it again, I remembered just how much I loved her words.

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Giovanni is a poet, activist and educator, and I love her for wearing so many hats with ease. She’s currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, and she is still vibrant and witty at 75 years of age. She’s published numerous books of her poetry and I personally enjoyed “Quilting the Black Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems”, one of her books in my personal collection.

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There’s a lot to say about Giovanni, and too many poems and quotes to count. However, I think the best way to get a sense of her is to read the words she wrote about herself. I loved the bio on her website. Here’s an excerpt that I found amusing, sobering, and inspiring, just like Giovanni herself:

I was asked to  do a biography so this is it.  I am 71 years old.  I highly recommend old age;  it’s fun.  I have been awarded an unprecedented  7 NAACP Image Awards which makes me very very proud.  I have been nominated for a Grammy; been a finalist for  the  National Book Award.  I am very proud to have authored 3 New York Times and Los Angeles Times Best Sellers, highly unusual for a poet.  I am a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.  I don’t have a lot of friends but I have good ones.  I have a son and a granddaughter.  My father, mother, sister and middle aunt are all deceased literarily making me go from being the baby in the family to being an elder.  I like to cook, travel and dream.  I’m a writer.  I’m happy.

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I hope you all enjoyed this post! Savor this fantastic Friday, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

(photos courtesy of AZQuotes, ETB Screenwriting and InstaQuote)