Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Sound of Writing

No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow.

Writing saved me from the sin and inconvenience of violence.

Helped are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception and realize a partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful.

Never be the only one, except, possibly, in your own home.

~ Alice Walker

Alice Walker is another author whose prolific body of work has earned my respect. She has shown an extensive range of skills and craft in poetry, essays, memoir, fiction, non-fiction as well as editing an anthology of work by Zora Neale Hurston. I have included a bibliography of her works at the end of this piece *. Walker overcame the harsh realities of her early life as the child of sharecroppers who was blinded in one eye by a stray BB gun shot to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for her epistolary novel "The Color Purple." She has tackled tough issues such as incest and genital mutilation in her work. She has honored both her parents in "By the Light of My Father's Smile" and "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens." She has never retreated from the challenge of uniting spirituality, political consciousness, creativity, and artistic merit in each of her works. Alice Walker attended Spelman College and received her degree from Sarah Lawrence College. She gives education a good name. She also has a gentle mellifluous voice that holds the listener in a gentle swing and rocks her back and forth. It was her book "The Temple of My Familiar" that started my habit of reading prose and poetry aloud, so that I could appreciate not only the ideas but also the rhythms of the writing. It is a habit that has also helped me in the revision of my work, because I can often hear awkward phrasing that appears perfectly functional on the page or recognize a long passage that would be improved once replaced by a series of shorter sentences. I can always trust Walker's prose to almost dance off the page when read aloud. It is no accident that some of my favorite authors share her Southern heritage: Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O'Conner, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, John Grisham. The languid pace of southern speech has always comforted me. Think about books you have read where the language employed by the writer almost samg inside your head. Which author's work would provide an audio listener with pure pleasure? When my vision was dimmed by cataracts, I was saddened by the loss of my ability to read. However, audio books have provided me with as much or more pleasure, especially while traveling. James Patterson and Stephen King always read their own books into the audio format and it is like having your parent read a bedtime story. The next time you are feeling stuck as to how to revise your work, read it out loud. You'll be surprised at what is revealed in the process. Feel free to share your experiences with the readers of this blog as a comment.

*The Works of Alice Walker:
Once: Poems
The Third Life of Grange Copeland
Revolutionary Petunias & Other Poems
In Love & Trouble: Stories of Black Women
Langston Hughes, American Poet
I Love Myself When I Am Laughing...A Zora Neale Hurston Reader (editor)
Good Night, Willie Lee, I'll See You in the Morning
You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down: Stories
The Color Purple
In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose
Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful
To Hell With Dying(Illustrations by Catherine Deeter)
Living by the Word
The Temple of My Familiar
Her Blue Body Everything We Know:Earthling Poems 1965-1990 Complete
Finding the Green Stone(Illustrations by Catherine Deeter)
Possessing the Secret of Joy
Warrior Marks(In collaboration with Pratibha Parmar)
The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult
Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer's Activism
By the Light of My Father's Smile
The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart
Sent by Earth: A Message from the Grandmother SpiritAfter the Bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon
Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart
Pema Chodron And Alice Walker in Conversation - Audio CD
A Poem Traveled Down My Arm : Poems and Drawings
Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth : New Poems
There Is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me - May, 2006
We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For - December, 2006

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