Friday, April 17, 2015

ICYMI: The Last 3 Weeks in Black Writing (3/27 - 4/16)

- Jerry Ward, Jr. wrote about seeing Richard Wright's haiku in performance at Xavier University of Louisiana.

- Jackson State University's Margaret Walker Center is sponsoring a year of Walker-centric programming, This is My Century: 100 Years of Margaret Walker, 1915-2015.

-  C. Liegh McInnis contributed to our Margaret Walker coverage with a consideration of Walker's famous poem "For My People" as the fulfillment of her literary manifesto.

- KU English Ph.D. student Creighton N. Brown recapped Dr. Giselle Anatol's recent talk about her new book, Things That Fly in the Night.

- We also recapped the Langston Hughes Center's screening of Selma and its KU scholars' panel discussion about the film.  (You can watch director Ava DuVernay's keynote from the South by Southwest Film festival here.)

- Brian Russell Roberts and Keith Foulcher announce the publication of Indonesian Notebook: A Sourcebook on Richard Wright, Modern Indonesia, and the Bandung Conference, forthcoming from Duke University Press in spring 2016.  Indonesian Notebook contains a newly discovered Indonesian lecture by Richard Wright, "The Artist and His Problems."  (Read an excerpt of the project published in PMLA here.)

- Novelist Marlon James won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction for his novel A Brief History of Seven KillingsThe Anisfield-Wolf awards are "for literature that confronts racism and examines diversity."

- With the publication of God Help the Child just a few days away, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah profiled Toni Morrison for the New York Times.  Read that article here, then listen to Morrison read an excerpt from her new novel here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Langston Hughes Center Present: SELMA Panel Discussion

[by Meredith Wiggins]

KU's Langston Hughes Center sponsored a screening of recent Best Picture nominee Selma followed by a panel discussion about the film and its resonances to current-day issues on Wednesday, March 25.  More than 200 students, faculty, and community members attended the screening in Wescoe Hall.

Selma depicts the 1965 civil rights marches from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery, and Dr. Shawn Alexander, an associate professor in the Department of African and African-American Studies and director of the LHC, noted that he picked March 25 for the screening because that was the date when marchers actually arrived in Montgomery.

After the screening, a panelist of three scholars from KU--independent filmmaker and professor of film and media studies Kevin Willmott, assistant professor of American studies Elizabeth Esch, and African and African American studies graduate student Melissa Foree--responded to the film and engaged audience questions about the continued relevance of civil rights work today.

Monday, April 13, 2015

"For My People" as the Fulfillment of Margaret Walker Alexander's Literary Manifesto

[by C. Liegh McInnis]

Before I can discuss how “For My People” speaks to people today, I must begin by discussing the manner in which Dr. Alexander began her writing career by providing her readers with a literary manifesto, which shows that Dr. Alexander understood poetry to be an engagement of critical thinking through which societal ills can be resolved through creative approaches.  With “I Want to Write,” Margaret Walker Alexander provides her literary manifesto that she wants to produce well-crafted poetry that shows African people how beautiful they are, which will encourage or inspire them to continue the struggle against white supremacy and toward the fulfillment of their humanity and citizenship.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Of Folklore, Feminism, and Fire: An Afternoon with KU Associate Professor of English Giselle Anatol

[by Creighton Nicholas Brown]

University of Kansas Professor of English Giselle Anatol spoke about and read from her newly published book, Things That Fly in the Night: Female Vampires in Literature of the Circum-Caribbean and African Diaspora to a packed audience at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas on Thursday, April 2.

Reflecting on the genesis of her project, Anatol said,  “When I was a child, my mother, aunts and uncles, and grandmother regaled me with stories of the soucouyant, a demonic figure from Trinidadian folk culture.” During the day the soucouyant appeared as an old woman, but when night fell, she “peeled off her skin, transformed into a ball of fire, and flew from house to house, where she sucked the blood of her unsuspecting neighbors.” The soucouyant is also known as Ole-Higue or Loogaroo in other Caribbean cultures.