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SheReads: Jo Nubian

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Zora Neale Hurston: A Life In Letters by Carla Kaplan: I am currently researching and writing my thesis on Ms. Zora. As much as I would like to say I found her, I know, in a sense, that she found me.  These letters written by her to, well, anybody you could imagine to be “in” the Harlem Renaissance crowd, serve as a tender reminder of one of our the greatest African American artistic movements in history. More importantly Zora, a woman who is famous for talking herself in and out of whatever you could imagine, teaches her readers how to play the game, precisely to win, and with a devilish smirk.  Her letters of affection to her white benefactor Charlotte Osgood Mason are countered with letters to Langston Hughes concerning her contempt of whites “grabbing our stuff and running.” (126). They are full of love, and bitterness, and honesty, and an undeniable wit.  She also lovingly  refers to Carl Van Vetchen as…ahem… “Pinky Toe”. The book is a must read for lovers of Zora and language itself.

Women Culture and Politics by Angela Y. Davis: There aren’t many who break down race/class/gender struggles as eloquently as Angela Y. Davis. Her political activism over reaches the struggle for Black liberation. Davis’ work in prison reform and womanism are unparalleled, but we know this already (or we should). This collection of eighteen essays reads like a manifesto, for working class women of color. Davis captures the interconnectedness of the abuse and mistreatment of women and a capitalist agenda that perpetuates such conditions.  I enjoy reading Davis’ works because she expects a certain level of familiarity and understanding to comprehend what she writes. It is enriching because it is not easy, and somehow the reader walks away fuller and richer having read it.  this is all any writer can work towards and any reader can expect, and it is what I strive for as a writer. A quick quote from the book that I love:

“Politics do not stand in polar opposition to our lives. Whether we desire it or not, they permeate our existence, insinuating themselves into the most private spaces of our lives.”


James Baldwin Collected Essays: There really is no one who breaks down the interplay of race in US culture and institutions like James Baldwin. Reading him simply makes me more thoughtful, self aware, stronger in my convictions, and a better student of the writing process.  Reading his essays are similar to simulating sex for me, his use of words are orgasmic. This collection includes “Notes of a Native Son,” “Nobody Knows My Name”, “The Fire Next Time,” “No Name in the Street,” “The Devil Finds Work,” and other essays, essentially providing the essence of Baldwin’s social commentary.  I suggest it for those who have read Go Tell It On the Mountain but seek to view Baldwin outside of his fictional works.  This book is my bible, I’ve highlighted, underlined it, and flagged it to death.  It is rare that I can’t go to it as a reference in hoping to understand what our fight for freedom is founded in.  It is much like a favorite musical score, beautiful written, rhythmic, riveting.

Anais Nin- Henry and June, From a Journal of Love- The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin

“Closer to what many sexually adventuresome women experience than almost anything I’ve ever read….I found it a very erotic book and profoundly liberating” (Alice Walker)

I just received this book on yesterday. I am a champion of Ananis Nin a writer of erotica, who is more widely known for her journaling.  Her descriptions of her love and her lovers are vivid, rich, decadent. Many may consider that description redundant, but it is not, she is each of those words individually as well as collectively.  Nin is one of those audacious women that I look to when I am unsure of my place. She says, be daring, be bold, be you, and be loved in all of those processes.  Nin writes: “I will not rest until I have told of my descent into a sensuality which was as dark, as magnificent, as wild, as my moments of mystic creation have been dazzling, ecstatic, exalted.” You simply have to love that…

Jo is a student, writer, blogger and lover of all things Baldwin. She pens the blog Just Jo Nubian and publishes poetry at Wordgasms. Follow her equally poetic tweets @BeautyNubian.


Written by whitney teal

February 26, 2010 at 8:47 am

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