Mailbox – What are You Reading for Black History Month?

I haven’t shared a (from the) Mailbox standalone post in a while (especially since I’ve been doing the round-up posts) but, though this is technically a promo post, I felt compelled to share it because of the question it poses.

The poser is the great African-American writer Marita Golden whom I had the opportunity to hear read live at the first Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival (then called the Caribbean International Literary Festival in 2006).

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Exif JPEGAh, the ABILF…remember that? One of many arts-related things we’ve started and stopped because of failure to realize their potential and support their growth.

ABILF_logo

Anyway, Marita is the co-founder of the seminal Washington-based programme Hurston-Wright Foundation, which is still very important to Black America and the diaspora (as organizers of the Hurston-Wright Writers Week, the Legacy Awards, and the College writers award, all of which we promote on our Opportunities and Opportunities Too pages). It has in some ways been a model for some of what I’ve been trying, since it launched in 2004, to do with the Wadadli Youth Pen Prizewhich is self-mandated to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. And her Antigua-Barbuda connection includes offering a spot in the Writers week to a winner of the Independence lit prize back when former Wadadli Pen Challenge judge Brenda Lee Browne had reignited it (you know, before it fizzled again, in spite of the judge who succeeded Browne, Barbara Arrindell urging government in an open letter to appoint an officer to see to lit arts development year round) – you already know that I think a writers residency or laureate programme would be an indicator that the powers that be are serious about lit arts, but deaf ears and all that. I also believe some young writers – perhaps also through BLB’s intervention including past Wadadli Pen finalist Rilys Adams had the opportunity to participate in the Hurston-Wright youth programme as well. Maybe Marita will consider making a contribution of one of her books or a mentorship  session or manuscript critique to a future Wadadli Pen Challenge winner. Just putting that out there but that’s not the point of this post. The last of my preamble, I love that this programme is named for one of my favourite writers Zora Neale Hurston – so to the question of BHM recs, I would definitely have Their Eyes were Watching God on the list and the collected works I love Myself When I’m Laughing; also books about her like Valerie Boyd’s Wrapped in Rainbows and Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens.

Okay, here now is Marita’s message from my Mailbox.

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“Welcome to the first Black History Month of this new decade. Like many of you I feel mixed emotions about this month. I am proud of its roots in the work of the groundbreaking historian Carter G. Woodson. Yet I long for the day when the full range of what African Americans have borne and contributed is seen as the legacy of all Americans and woven truthfully into the historical fabric of this nation.

I am enormously proud of my contributions to Black History Month in the 17 books I have written, and as co-founder of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation.

My parents were my first writing mentors because they encouraged me to write, to think critically, to ask questions and to feel that I had the right to live fully in and impact the world. Their spirits inform everything I write.

I write to tell stories I want to read.
I write to enlarge and enhance the canon of narratives about Black life and experience.
I write to build a bridge from my heart to yours.

If you are looking for a book to read this Black History Month, I have written 17 books and somewhere in that mix I am sure there is a book for you.

I also recommend these three great reads for Black History Month:

Africaville by Jeffrey Colvin
A Particular Kind of Black Man by Tope Folarin
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn”

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The Mailing is punctuated by images of Golden’s books of which I’ve read and blogged two in the Blogger on Books series right here on the blog: After (which is still quite topical as it deals with the fallout of a police involved shooting) and Gumbo (which is amazing as it collects so many different voices and is co-edited by the late great E. Lynn Harris – check out one of his books as well).

gumbo_book

Check her out.

I, of course, hope you’ll check out my books as well… which from colourism to development/land use issues to putting a dark skinned black girl at the centre of her own fairytale…touch on being Black in my Caribbean.

MUSICAL_YOUTH_Cover_FRONT_Finalwith-grace-cover

There are numerous other book rec lists on this site plus the reading room and gallery and our listings of Antiguan and Barbudan and Caribbean books via our bibliographies – use the search to the right to find them.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Links We Love, Literary Gallery, Wadadli Pen News

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