Sunday, November 22, 2009

4Ws Reunion

Yesterday, participants in the MS 4Ws Writing Institute reunited after a long six months from being a part. We discussed how we transformed the experience into a personal sanctuary of reading, writing, and literary discussion.  It's amazing how spending nine months together molded the participants into a wonderful learning committee.  Sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council, the 4Ws Writing Institute was formed not only to provide pedagogy for educators, but it was formed to intellectually stimulate educators and make the learning process personal.  Being able to take related field trips provided educators with a specific time and place to connect the literature being read.

The institute began at the Mississippi Archives. Dr. Harrison provided a historical overview, which left each participant bubbling with excitement. The tour of the archives and viewing Eudora Welty's handwritten notes made the experience even more exciting. Dr. Ward enlighten the participants in spite of the technologically glitches. The trip to Natchez and the pit stop at The Forks in the Road caused thoughtful personal recognition and influenced the mindset of many of the participants.  Dr. Peggy and Dr. Noel discussion on Eudora Welty helped to provide many ideas for teaching students to appreciate Eudora's works.  Hearing Eudora actually read her works confirmed many of the participants analysis of several of her works.  Dr. Colby helped the participants process Tennessee Williams by including pedagogy and literary analysis of Tennessee's plays.  Finally, Dr. Graham ended with Margaret Walker Alexander at Jackson State and the Mississippi Archives.

Each participant left the reunion with a newfound spirit, encouraging them to be an educator and research scholar all over again.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Freedom Rider Returns to Mississippi

Look at this fresh idealistic face!
"Freedom Rider Returns to Mississippi"
appeared in the Commercial Appeal today,
and I found myself captivated by her Christian mugshot!
Looks like they have arrested Anne of Green Gables!

The article is less about the return
of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland to her reunion at Tougaloo,
and more about a current student's
creative tribute to her through music.

What do you think?
Read article here and Happy Fourth Everyone! ~ Maggie

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Maryemma Graham

Dr. Maryemma Graham did an amazing job as our instructor on Margaret Walker. Dr. Graham, a Professor of English at the University of Kansas, has been a wonderful inspiration for me. Her prolific knowledge of Margaret Walker and her actually experiences with her just blew me away.

Some of her publications include:

How I Wrote Jubilee and Other Essays on Life and Literature by Margaret Walker (1990); Conversations with Ralph Ellison (1995); On Being Female, Black and Free: Essays by Margaret Walker, 1932-1992 (1997); Teaching African American Literature: Theory and Practice (1998). Fields Watered With Blood: Critical Essays on Margaret Walker (2001), Conversations with Margaret Walker (2002), The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker (work in progress).

Check out these following sites that she is affiliated with:

The Project on the History of Black Writing - She is the co-founder.
Langston Hughes National Poetry Project - She is the director.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Digital Storytelling

Teaching our students to enjoy reading works by Welty, Wright, Williams, and Walker can be a very challenging feat. However, we can find amazing and creative ways to encourage our children to become readers and writers beyond the classroom. I have been really intrigued by digital storytelling. The University of Houston has a wonderful site to teach educators about digital story telling. Try it out in your classroom.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Inspired By Margaret Walker

After reading Margaret Walker's poetry, I have been inspired to write poetry which transforms actually people and historical events into the subject matter of my poems. Loving how she used prophets to discuss activists, like Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King, Jr., I have been researching several historical events to write about. How will you teach the poetry of Margaret Walker? What historical event will you discuss to entice your students to write historical poetry.

Posted with LifeCast

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Margaret Walker Alexander (1915 ~ 1998)

When I was about eight, I decided that the most wonderful thing, next to a human being, was a book.
~Margaret Walker


Jubilee (1966)


A Poetic Equation: Conversations Between Nikki Giovanni and Margaret Walker (1974)
Richard Wright, Daemonic Genius: A Portrait of the Man, A Critical Look at His Work (1988)
How I Wrote Jubilee and Other Essays on Life and Literature (1990) Editor Maryemma Graham
On Being Female, Black, and Free: Essays by Margaret Walker, 1932-1992


For My People (1942)
The Ballad of the Free (1966)
Prophets for a New Day (1970)
October Journey (1973)
For Farish Street Green, February 27, 1986 (1986)
This Is My Century: New and Collected Poems (1989)

Note: I pulled this list from the Mississippi Writer's Page. If I left out something please leave a comment and I will add it to the list. Happy Reading ~ Maggie

Friday, May 22, 2009

Unit Lesson on Poetry

I have completed a unit lesson to accompany the poetry book by Patricia Neely-Dorsey. This unit lesson will be posted on our MS 4Ws ning. Presently, I am working on a unit lesson for Margaret Walker. Have you completed a unit lesson? What are your plans for the next school year? Are you going to teach any of the 4Ws?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


English actress calls Clarksdale visit ‘invaluable’
Golden Globe nominee to portray Stella in ‘Streetcar Named Desire’

CLARKSDALE – When English actress Ruth Wilson takes center stage as Stella in “Streetcar named Desire” in London this summer, she’ll be remembering Clarksdale’s Cutrer Mansion, Moon Lake, and Mississippi Delta plantation homes.

To immerse herself in the world of Tennessee Williams, this raven-haired beauty and Golden Globe nominee, traveled here to experience the playwright’s childhood home and its influences on his famous plays.

Among the sites she viewed were St. George’s Episcopal Church, the Cutrer Mansion and Clarksdale’s historic district where the spent his childhood, the Stovall and Anderson plantations, Uncle Henry’s Place on Moon Lake, and miles of green Mississippi River levees, farmland, and cypress brakes.

Wilson’s performance in the Masterpiece Theatre television series “Jane Eyre” earned her four Best Actress nominations including a Golden Globe. In a BBC Best Actress viewer poll she was rated second.

The role of Stella’s sister Blanche Dubois is being portrayed by Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz, who won a 2006 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the movie, “The Constant Gardner.”

“This visit to Clarksdale has been invaluable,” Wilson says. “For me as an actor, it is very important to fill my body and mind with sense memories.”

“So on stage when I talk about Belle Reve (the Cutrer Mansion is generally regarded as the ancestral home of sisters Stella and Blanche in “Streetcar”) or Moon Lake, I have an immediate and natural reaction to those places, those people,” she says.

“It is a way for me to immerse myself in the world of the play; I can literally hear, smell, feel, and see those places, those people,” she continues.

Wilson says Moon Lake was particularly interesting because of its isolation from Clarksdale.

“Being surrounded by a fast flowing river gave it a romanticism and sereneness, but also a deep sense of danger,” she says.

“You could understand why Tennessee depicted it as a place of wild freedom and danger,” she continues.

To learn more about the South, Wilson began her travels in Charleston, South Carolina, and moved on to Savannah through Alabama, and Mississippi to New Orleans.

“What was common about people from the South and what I loved was not only the wonderful generosity, but also incredible humor,” she says.

“You all have such quick minds, but slow mouths; it is the Tennessee (Williams) way of speaking – funny and sharp but rhythmic and languid; it is completely unique and completely beautiful – I hope I can re-create some of that,” she said.

“The more I read of Tennessee’s work, the more poetry I find. He had such a beautiful and rhythmic way with words. I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to put voice to them,” Wilson adds.

Wilson says “Streetcar” opens July 28 in London at the Donmar Theatre that is currently producing “Hamlet” with Jude Law.Other actors have spent time in Clarksdale researching Tennessee Williams plays including English actress Frances O'Conner who played Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" in London and actors from France who performed in "Orpheus Descending."

Clarksdale’s 17th Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival will be held Oct. 16-17 and will continue its focus on the playwright’s Delta plays including “Spring Storm,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Summer and Smoke,” “Orpheus Descending,” and others.

A “Stella” shouting contest is a popular component of the festival’s Student Acting Competition. For additional information and updates, view

Photo cutlines: English actress Ruth Wilson, a Best Actress Golden Globe nominee, visits Clarksdale’s historic Cutrer Mansion to experience sites from the world of playwright Tennessee Williams for her portrayal of Stella in the play, ‘Streetcar Named Desire.’ Giving her a tour of the mansion that is generally regarded as Belle Reve, the ancestral home, of Stella and Blanche in ‘Streetcar’ is Lois McMurchy, director of the Coahoma County Higher Education Center.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Perfect Program for Inspiring Young Poets!

This past Tuesday at 2:30 we had the honor of hearing Patricia Neely-Dorsey read from her new book of poetry titled Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia: A Life in Poems!

In attendance for the event was her handsome husband and chauffeur, James, who drove the two hours to Senatobia and then back home for Miss Patricia. ;D Others in the audience could tell they were very much in love (and I'm sure - still are) as she stole glances his way while reading her poem, "Mississippi Man".

Pat's visit was my first official program as Public Service Librarian. Regrettably, I still have loads to learn when it comes to scheduling an event on an active campus! I can say, those in attendance were rewarded with an intelligent and witty woman behind the podium and behind the poems we were hearing. Those students that attended left inspired. She is an engaging speaker and I highly recommend her program to all Mississippi librarians and especially to those who read this blog!

I purchased a few signed copies to give away during the Southern Reading Challenge! Yay, Y'all!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Summer Reading List!

Ah, parting is such sweet sorrow, but I left yesterday with a summer full of reading ideas. Thank you Maryemma for the stimulating session full of new terms for this inspired librarian. For those in attendance and for those who regretfully missed, I made a reading list based on the book titles or authors thrown into the conversation yesterday. If I miss one, please leave a comment and I will add.

No one will forget Vija Lee's moving book talk on Kneebaby by R.S. Cannon! Thank you for having the courage to share with us Vija.

Books entering yesterday's conversation because they are similar in nature to Jubilee include,

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
and slightly over-top, Fairoaks by Frank Yerby.

Too Similar to Jubilee!?!

Roots by Alex Haley

Tragic Mulatto is a new genre I cannot wait to explore this summer. It reminds me of the tragic young adult books of the 60's and 70's. In this genre, someone would die because the main character committed a moral sin such as drinking and driving, having a baby out of wedlock, or experimenting with drugs.

The Wedding by Dorothy West
Passing and Quicksand by Nella Larsen
Comedy, American Style,
Plum Bun: A Novel without a Moral and
There is Confusion by Jessie Redmon Fauset
Short Story The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Want to discover more about Jessie Fauset and Dorothy West? I found this read which carries a bonus author Zora Neale Hurston!

Rereading the Harlem Renaissance: Race, Class, and Gender in the Fiction of Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, and Dorothy West by Sharon L. Jones

Hear the melody in this book of sermons,

God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse by James Weldon Johnson.

Modern day slavery is the topic of these two reads:

My Forbidden Face: Growing Up Under the Taliban by Latifa
Slave: My True Story by Mende Nazer

Want to spend your summer analyzing the Uncle Remus and Uncle Julius stories then write a compare/contrast article for Black Magnolias Literary Journal? Here’s two books that will get you started.

Charles W. Chesnutt Stories, Novels and Essays by Charles W. Chesnutt
Brer Rabbit, Uncle Remus, and the 'Cornfield Journalist': The Tale of Joel Chandler Harris by Walter M. Brasch

One book, one curriculum idea called the Cardozo Project and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Maryemma spoke about, used The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison to inspire teamwork amongst teachers and students for a full year. I love the science classes figuring through DNA the chances of producing blue eyes.

To round out the student/teacher experience someone mentioned 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey.

~Happy Reading from Maggie!

Our Last Meeting!

I will SO miss our monthly discussions. :(
Keep in Touch Everyone! ~Maggie

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"R" Runaway

In Jubilee, Lucy runs away. After being captured, her punishment is the branding of the letter "R" on her face. Even after Lucy's torture and humiliation, she manages to escape from the plantation. Did you think that she would try to escape again? What was your reaction to her second escape? How did you feel about her being branded like an animal? Did it make you cringe?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Let's Discuss...

The following questions were developed by Dr. Jerry Ward for the short story Bright and Morning Star by Richard Wright. ~Maggie

1.) Why does Wright borrow the title from a hymn?

2.) What aspects of Southern life were threatened by cooperation between black and white Communists in the 1930s?

4.) What is the nature of the new faith that Aunt Sue learns from her sons Sug and Johnny-Boy?

“If in the early days of her life the white mountain had driven her back from the earth, then in her last days Reva’s love was drawing her toward it….”

5.) How does the white mountain function as a metaphor? What does the passage reveal about Aunt Sue’s conception of self?

6.) Why does the sheriff not hesitate to brutalize an old black woman? What does his action reveal about racial hatred?

7.) Is Aunt Sue’s reaction to her beating similar to or different from Reverend Taylor’s reaction to his whipping in Fire and Cloud? How does gender function as a determining element in their responses?

8.) What does Aunt Sue’s suffering and ultimate sacrifice for her son Johnny-Boy suggest about a woman’s determination?

New Ning Site

Since some of you were weary about participating on Facebook, I have created a Ning site, catering specifically to the 4ws Writing Institute. On the Ning site, you can create your own profile, blog post, and submit photos and events. I created this in order for us to keep in contact and share the exciting lessons and classes we will create and teach. I have added photos and hope you do the same. The Ning site is by invite only. Please check your email for the invite! I am excited about our last meeting on Saturday! See you then!!!!!!

Visit Mississippi 4Ws Writing Institute:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Poet to Speak at NWCC!

Join us Tuesday May 5th at 2:30
in the veiwing room of the
R.C. Pugh Library
on the Senatobia Campus
of Northwest MS Community College!
For more information call Me!
~Maggie 662-562-3268

The 4Ws Spread!

Beth Bunce, 4Ws participant and Northwest Mississippi Community College (NWCC) English instructor, will provide 1-hour CEU credit for a week-long class discussion on Tennessee Williams for educators!

Look what you have done Colby!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Black Code

Walker writes about the importance of the Black Code to regulate the movement of slaves in her book, Jubilee. The Black Code, also known as the slave code, monitored the movement of slaves and helped enforce the laws of slavery in the South. Here are a few resources to refer to when discussing the Black Code. How do you think you would address the topic of Black Codes in the classroom?

Slave Codes of the State of Georgia

The Black Code in Georgia

Black Code

Black Codes of 1865

Mississippi Black Code

Mississippi Black Code

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Participating In Writing Institute

I was amazed yesterday when a coworker asked me about the book I was currently reading. Since participating in the 4Ws Writing Institute I have shared my love for the institute and shared the books and topics we have been covering. Apparently, I have shared so much that my coworkers know I am reading something new each month. Explaining to him that we are studying Margaret Walker, I shared with him her book of poetry. Unfamiliar with her poetry, he read her poetry intently and we even had a discussion about it. I am so happy to be apart of such a phenomenal experience. Being able to read wonderful books by Mississippi authors, along with discussing the books with such wonderful colleagues is priceless.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Haiku Friday!


My cigarette glows
Without my lips touching it,
—A steady spring breeze.

Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright

2004 Southern Breeze "Lallah Award" for Most Innovative
(Psst - I think the art looks like the end of a cigarette.) ~Maggie

Monday, April 13, 2009

Creating Essays Using Margaret's Poetry

Having students chose one of Margaret's poems and write a literary analysis essay is a great way to incorporate her works in the classroom. I found an essay on Margaret Walker on the Modern American Poetry website. You may find this essay helpful to use in the classroom.

Mystic Years Part Deux

I'm very excited to see a new book on our shelves titled Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen by Philip Dray. Dray was in the running for a Pulitzer Prize for his work, At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America, that won two other awards that year. This book features the the lives of 16 black southerners who tried to change the government; woefully, they were out numbered by corruptible white congressmen during the Mystic Years of Reconstruction.

I have not read it. I gave the library copy to one of our history teachers and she brought it back raving. She said, "It is readable history!" That leads me to believe not all history is readable. ~Maggie ;D

The Margaret Walker Research Center

Located on the campus of Jackson State University, the Margaret Walker Research Center "houses" records of the past to preserve the African-American culture. The center has an oral history collection database available online. Welcoming records, personal papers, and other important items related to African-American culture, the center also has items belonging to Margaret Walker. We were very privileged to have the opportunity to view Margaret's first journal, given to her by her father, documents written and typed by her, one of her favorite hats, and her typewriter. Dr. Harrison provided us with a tour of the amazing facility. Ironically, Maurine was able to discover that her field trip to Jackson State University with her students has been documented and added to the archives of the Margaret Walker Research Center. The pictures were taken at the center.

How Shall We Celebrate?

April 13, 1909
Does anyone wish to declare a favorite Welty short story or book?
Leave a comment! ~Maggie

Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Mississippi Poet!

Help me get the word out, 4Ws! I am currently participating in Celebrate the South Blog Tour honoring poet Patricia Neely-Dorsey of Tupelo, Mississippi. I have her new book of poetry titled, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia: A Life in Poems, if anyone wants to read it and share with their classroom. I would like the book back afterwards to place in the library collection. Here is my contribution to the tour. ~Maggie

Visit Pat at her blog or purchase her book through Amazon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Tennessee Williams Rewrite

I did it! I did a Tennessee Williams rewrite!

My plan was to write about poetry this week, but then I looked at the calendar and freaked. My column's deadline is Wednesday at 12 p.m. and Welty's birthday is Monday. The newspapers tend to stagger my appearance with The Southern Reporter running the next day, Thursday, and The DeSoto Times-Tribune running two weeks later. The other three papers run Book Talk in the following week's edition.

It was either write it today or skip it all together. I decided to follow in Williams' footsteps and rewrite the post from Monday. I thought of Williams while in my panic. I remember Colby telling us he would rewrite over and over until he got the response he wanted from the audience. I want to provide the 4W readers with information. I want newspaper readers to pick up a book, any book, even if it is to throw at me!

Here is this week's Book Talk...Duck! ~Maggie

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

David Walker

Teaching Jubilee in the classroom can also incorporate history as well. After discussing Walker's poetry and realizing that she often refers to real people in her writings, I decided to look up David Walker. Aunt Sally goes to a secret meeting at Rising Glory Baptist Church and describes her interaction with the papers being discussed and her knowledge of David Walker. After doing much research, I learned some interesting things about David Walker. Born in North Carolina, David Walker used his pamphlet, "Appeal," to cause slaves to revolt against their master. A true abolitionist, David use his pamphlet to deliver his message throughout the south.

Teaching David Walker in the secondary classroom maybe somewhat difficult. Using this teacher resource can help you in teaching the history behind David Walker.
*Each link leads to different information on David Walker.

Here are a list of other resources:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Harsh Reality of Slavery

Reading Jubilee has reignited my pure disgust towards the existence of slavery. It's amazing how Margaret Walker recaptures the persistent cruelty, the menacing hatred, and the harsh reality of Southern Gothic. Walker's ability to recreate such a tragic piece of history demonstrates how truly talented she was.

Chapter one ends with the death of an woman. What was the woman's name? How does her death impact you? What character stands out the most in chapter one?

America's First Serial Killers!

In Eudora Welty: Some Notes on River Country edited by Hunter Cole, a quote from Welty as told to Dr. Peggy Prenshaw in Conversations with Eudora Welty included in Cole’s afterword, inspired my thoughts. Welty said, “Why, just to write about what might happen along some little road like the Natchez Trace—which reaches so far into the past and has been the trail for so many kinds of people—is enough to keep you busy for life.”

Just as William Faulkner set his novels in fictional Yoknapatawpha County and Tennessee Williams used the Clarksdale area as setting in most of his plays, Welty kept busy with stories set in the River Country between Vicksburg and Natchez. These stories include her book The Robber Bridegroom and short stories: A Worn Path, Asphodel, First Love, A Still Moment, Livvie, and At the Landing.

Cole continues, “It is known that she had read Audubon’s diaries, J.F.H Claiborne’s Mississippi narratives, and Robert M. Coates’s The Outlaw Years: The Land Pirates of the Natchez Trace and wished to verify the history these told."

I, too, wish to verify a sentence mentioned in Welty’s Some Notes on River Country. Welty wrote, “Deep under them both is solid blue clay, embalming the fossil horse and fossil ox and the great mastodon, the same preserving blue clay that was dug up to wrap the head of the Big Harp in bandit days, no less a monstrous thing when carried in for reward.”

What! How disgusting! Is this really true and why haven’t I heard of said Harp, Big or Little?

The Robber Bridegroom and Eudora Welty: Some Notes on River Country are perfect companions to a class on Mississippi history. Yes, I know RB is fictional, but sometimes it takes a story to get students interested. I surely want to know more about the Harps, Mike Fink, Lorenzo Dow, John Murrell, Aaron Burr, Harmon Blennerhassett, and John James Audubon’s search for the ivory-billed woodpecker in Mississippi. ~Maggie

4Ws Facebook Page

Here is the link to the 4Ws Writing Institute Facebook Page. Please make sure you become a fan, so that we can keep in contact after the writing institute. I have started a discussion topic on Jubilee. Remember that we are reading Jubilee for next month. Make sure you bring a poem you wrote about your life!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Shout Out to Panny Mayfield! Thanks for the article!

We had an awesome time during our discussion of Tennesse Williams in Clarksdale, MS! Panny Mayfield was an exceptional host. Check out an article in the Clarksdale Press Register about our visit! Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Margaret Walker Discussion #1

Walker extends the oral tradition, emphasizing the folklore in her poetry. In Walker's poetry, she takes actual people, events, and traditions and transform them into her own. She uses traditional ballad forms in her poetry. Her volume of poetry, October Journey, includes several examples of ballads in her poetry. Many of her poems include emphasis on the South as an "ancestral homeland" and juxtaposing the past with the present. However, she does not romanticized previous Southern culture.

Her poetry includes reclamation - an unpleasant experience for some readers. Often not apologetic, Walker's poetry tends to be bold. Humanity and dignity is constantly used through her poetry. She emphasizes the humanity of it all. Typical southern gothicism exists in her poetry. Images of the violent south exists throughout her poetry. She proves to be a "southern gothic writer." Walker's poem, "Delta," provides a unique combination of various elements related to the south.

Elevated rhetoric, literary tools, parallelism, and language beyond normal use is important in Walker's poetry. Biblical cadence, which can be heard in sermons, can be heard in Walker's poetry (e.g. "Delta" and "Hosea"). Walker has a unique connection to visual artists.

Applying Walker in the Classroom:
  • Teaching literary elements: Take one of Walker's poems and have students identify literary elements.

  • Writing about your life: Have students read one of Walker's poems and create a poem about their life, referring to the chosen poem.

  • Comparison: Compare poems "For My People" and "I've Known Rivers" by Langston Hughes. Have students write their comparison, while playing the sound of a river running. Have students applying the literary tool, parallelism.

  • Teaching Poetry and Establishing Confessional: Use Walker's poetry to identify your own bias and have students identify their own vulnerability and bias.

Poems discusssed in today's discussion:
  1. Ex-Slave

  2. For My People

  3. Delta

  4. Lineage

  5. Today

  6. Yalluh Hammuh

  7. Teacher

  8. Long John Nelson and Sweetie Pie

  9. Whores

  10. Street Demonstration

  11. Girl Held Without Bail

  12. For Andy Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney

  13. Jeremiah

  14. Isaiah

  15. Amos

  16. Amos (Postscript, 1968)

  17. Joel

  18. Hosea

  19. Micah

  20. Ballade of the Hoppy-Toad

  21. October Journey

  22. I Want to Write

  23. For Gwen 1969

  24. Ballad for Phillis Wheatley

  25. Medger Evers

  26. Jackson State

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Postage Stamps

Thanks to our generous Clarksdale hostess, Panny Mayfield, attendees received a somber Tennessee Williams, postage-stamp poster. That got me wondering about other stamps recognizing our 4Ws' authors.

Found this brightly colored Street Car Named Desire stamp while googling Tennessee Williams stamps.

Richard Wright has a stamp in the same style as Mr. Williams indicating a series.

Other stamps of our 4Ws include foreign nations like Ghana and Turkmenistan, and a nice collection of "The History of Theatre" from Gambia.

What does a girl have to write to get a postage stamp?!? I went all through the internet and could NOT find a postage stamp for Margaret Walker Alexander and Eudora Welty. Humpf! ~Maggie

Thomas Lanier Williams (1911 ~ 1983)

When I stop working the rest of the day is posthumous. I'm only really alive when I'm writing.

~ Tennessee Williams


27 Wagons Full of Cotton and Other One Act Plays (1945)
The Glass Menagerie (1945)
Battle of Ages (1945)
A Streetcar Named Desire (won Pulitzer Prize 1947)
You Touched Me! (1947)
American Blues (1948)
Summer and Smoke (1948)
The Rose Tattoo (1951)
I Rise a Flame, Cried the Phoenix (1951)
This Property is Condemned (1952)
Camino Real (1953)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (won Pulitzer Prize 1955)
Baby Doll (screenplay 1956)
Suddenly Last Summer (1958)
Orpheus Descending (revision of Battle of Ages 1958
A Perfect Analysis is Given by a Parrot (1958)
Garden District (1959)
Sweet Bird of Youth (1959)
The Fugitive Kind (1960)
Period of Adjustment (1960)
The Night of the Iguana (1961)
Five Plays (1962)
The Eccentricities of a Nightingale (1964)
Grand (1964)
The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1964)
The Mutilated (1967)
Kingdom of the Earth (1968)
In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel (1969)
Dragon Counting, A Book of Plays (1970)
The Two-Character Play (1971)
Small Craft Warnings (1973)
Outcry (1973)
The Red Devil Battery Sign (1975)
Vieux Carre (1979)
A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur (1980)
Steps Must Be Gentle (1980)
A House Not Meant to Stand (1982)
Clothes for a Summer Hotel: A Ghost Play (1983)
Stopped Rocking and Other Screenplays (1984)
The Remarkable Rooming-House of Mme. LeMonde (1984)
Something Cloudy, Something Clear (1995)
Not About Nightingales (1998)

Collections of Short Stories

The Vengeance of Nitocris (1928)
The Field of Blue Children (1939)
The Resemblance Between a Violin Case and a Coffin (1951)
Hard Candy: a Book of Stories (1954)
Three Players of a Summer Game and Other Stories (1960)
The Knightly Quest: a Novella and Four Short Stories (1966)
One Arm and Other Stories (1967)
Eight Mortal Ladies Possessed: a Book of Stories (1974)
Tent Worms (1980)
It Happened the day the Sun Rose, and Other Stories (1981)

~ Happy Reading from Maggie

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Trip to Clarksdale

A coworker, from Clarksdale, mentioned a front cover spread about our trip in the Clarksdale Press Register, their local newspaper. Click on the link to read the article from March 21, 2009.

Monday, March 16, 2009

MPB Education Express

While visiting Mississippi Public Broadcasting website, I discovered online resources for teachers. There are several resources available for educators. I also discovered Education Express, a great resource teachers can use to assist in planning their daily lessons. Since we are nearing the last few months of school, I thought you would greatly benefit from a little assist to help you! Check it out! Let me know what you think!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Haiku Friday!


Keep straight down this block,
Then turn right where you will find
A peach tree blooming.

Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright (Arcade, 1998)

Mixed media collage titled Coming Together by Mississippian Charles Crossley.

Mr. Crossley's recent works are on exhibit
The Lauren Rogers Museum
March 15 - May 17, 2009 in the Stairwell Gallery! ~ Maggie

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I have posted new images to our Flickr group. I really hope you will share the images you have taken as well. We had a great time! I really enjoyed seeing everyone. Please remember that we have a Facebook page and a blog on Blogger. Don't forget to participate! See you in a month!
Note: Picture taken by Maggie (l to r) Darein Spann and Sheri Blankenship

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Story is in the Stars

One of the things I find fascinating about our discussions is the underlying myths associated with the stories. I am caught off guard every time and must face my weak education in the area of mythology. I have no excuse with our next assignment. The play's name, Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams, smacks of myth.

For your convenience, this post includes a few websites featuring the retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice: two from Virginia Commonwealth University and one from Women in Myth.

The Wikipedia article on Orpheus includes this statement, “The lyre was carried to heaven by the Muses, and was placed among the stars.” I thought it might be nice to include a couple of website on the constellation Lyra: one by Ian Ridpath (my hero) and another by Constellations of Words that contains an etymology. ~ Maggie

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Benefits of the Writing Institute

I found a Literature book which I had "borrowed" from my mother's extensive home library. I looked through it and found one of Tennessee Williams’ plays, "The Glass Menagerie." Since it was almost to bedtime for my children, I decided to read it to them. After reading the background information on the characters and the production notes, I began to read scene one. Tom's narration was very interesting. Tom provided important information on the characters. The first part of the scene was very funny. Tom became upset with his mother because she often chastised him about his eating habits. He leaves the dining to smoke as cigarette. Then I read, "No, sister, no, sister - you be the lady this time and I'll be the darky" (Knickerbocker 707). I had to stop. The word, "darky," hit me like a whirlwind. Does Tennessee's Williams avoid using the "N" word to deviate from controversy? If "darky" was deleted, would scene one in the play still have the same meaning? Reading on, I understood the message he was trying to deliver. He wanted the viewer to see the mother's desire to teach Laura how to be waited on instead being the server.

Being a part of the writing institute has transformed my ability to read derogatory words and to see the author’s underlining meaning. It has been a wonderful experience to discuss rather touchy subjects, like racism, in an intellectually stimulating situation. Our monthly discussions have been fundamental in my own ability to interpret what I read and the message the author is trying to portray.

Works Cited

Knickerbocker, K. L. and Reniner, H. Williard. "The Glass Menagerie." Interpreting Literature. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1955.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Facebook and 4Ws

I have created a page for the 4Ws Writing Institute on Facebook. Please support the Writing Institute Facebook page by becoming a fan! I created the page to provide universal exposure for the program. I have enjoyed being a participant in this program, and I want to share my experience with others. Look forward to seeing you online at Facebook!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Haiku Friday!


From the cherry tree
To the roof of the red barn,
A cloud of sparrows flew.

Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright (Arcade, 1998)

Acrylic by Mississippian Rick Anderson titled Red House. ~Maggie

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

4Ws Flickr

I have created a slideshow using the photos from this past week's discussion. Remember to post your photos from previous trips and discussions to our Flickr group. Here is a link to our group.

Exposure to Tennessee Williams

Our past discussion on Tennessee Williams was informative, entertaining, and intriguing. Dr. Kullman enticed us with humor and managed to keep a very interactive discussion going, even though it was "The Love Holiday." I really enjoyed the handouts. He provided so much information to use in the classroom. From images of important landmarks used in Tennessee Williams to frequent themes in his plays, we left with an abundance of information to create essay assignments and to encourage classroom discussions. I am looking forward to our next meeting in Clarksdale, MS.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I'd Love to Hear...

During discussion Saturday, I mentioned plays being used as entry points for reluctant readers. My Book Talk column for the previous week talked about that very thing. I am not an educator and wrote the piece from my own experience, but would love feed back from teachers. I would like to know if this is a practical idea or do I need to go back and rethink the article. The article is passed rescission though. Please leave a comment here or click the words Book Talk and leave one there. ~ Maggie

Friday, February 13, 2009

Haiku Friday!


In the setting sun,
Each tree bud is clinging fast
To drying raindrops.

Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright (Arcade, 1998)

Mixed media collage by Texan Cheryl McClure titled The Rain Came. ~ Maggie

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Let's discuss...

The following questions were developed by Dr. Jerry Ward for the short story Down by the Riverside by Richard Wright. ~ Maggie

1. What is the moral conundrum in this story?

2. Does the story seem to have unusual significance if we compare reactions to the Mississippi River flood of 1927 with those evidenced in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the breaking of the levees in New Orleans in 2005?

3. Why are the military officials so insensitive to Mann's grief over the death of his wife? Why is Mann addressed as “boy”?

4. Why does Mann rescue Mrs. Heartfield and her two children when he knows they will identify him as the person who murdered Mr. Heartfield?

5. Why does Mann decide to die before the agents of justice can kill him? What is the significant difference between his decision and the one Silas makes in Long Black Song?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Natchez, Mississippi
FEBRUARY 19-22, 2009

"Southern Women Writers:
Saluting the Eudora Welty Centennial"

Conference co-sponsors:
Copiah-Lincoln Community College,
Natchez National Historical Park,
Mississippi Department of Archives and History,
and Mississippi Public Broadcasting
Carolyn Vance Smith, Kathleen Jenkins,
Jim Barnett, and Marie Antoon
Director of Proceedings: William F. Winter


The Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, winner of an Olympic Award, the Governor’s Award, and the Mississippi Tourism Award, has been called by official evaluators “Mississippi’s most significant annual conference devoted to literature, history, and culture.”

Sponsored by Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Natchez National Historical Park, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and Mississippi Public Broadcasting, the Celebration annually presents a theme-based lecture series enhanced by films, field trips, workshops, exhibits, book signings, and discussions.

Each year since the NLCC began in 1990, the conference has been made possible in part by the Mississippi Humanities Council under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The conference is also made possible in part by a $100,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant that was successfully matched dollar-for-dollar during a three-year campaign that ended in 2006.

For information about Natchez and where to stay, visit:
Natchez Convention and Visitor Bureau
Other Natchez sites to visit:

For questions and or ticket orders call
toll-free 1-866-296-NLCC (1-866-296-6522) or e-mail info.
~ Maggie

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Let's Discuss...

The following questions were developed by Dr. Jerry Ward for the short story Big Boy Leaves Home by Richard Wright. ~ Maggie

1.) The story opens with four black boys engaged in the banter known as “the dozens.” Why does Wright begin the story with a ritual involving verbal insults?

2.) How does Wright use a classic taboo regarding contact between blacks and whites to activate tragic events in the plot?

3.) What are the justifications for the soldier’s killing of Lester and Buck? For Big Boy’s killing the soldier? What point does Wright wish to make about justice and inequality? About justice and power?

4.) How does Wright use the themes of innocence and guilt in the story?

5.) Note the pastoral setting in which violence initially occurs. What do other acts of violence in the story lead us to conclude about the nature of violence? About the nature of the community wherein it occurs?

6.) Is Big Boy’s witnessing of the lynching of Bobo a part of his education?

7.) How important are issues of migration and displacement in the story? Why does Big Boy flee to Chicago rather than to another part of the United States?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pic Disposable Cameras!

Now through Feb. 16, 2009 people can view the photographic art of Eudora Welty at the Museum of the City of New York! The exhibit is titled Eudora Welty in New York: Photographs of the Early 1930s and includes her pics taken while living in the city. Afterwards the exhibit will be packed up and shipped back to Mississippi for a showing at the Welty House.

Dr. Prenshaw shared an article she found in The New York Times promoting the exhibit titled "Portraits Taken by a Writer as a Young Woman (in Hard Times)" by Karen Rosenberg.

As a fun classroom assignment, purchase disposable cameras in bulk and let students document a week in their lives for an end-of-the-year exhibit. Teachers may want to lead them by showing Eudora Welty's work and introducing a theme before they start clicking such as My Mississippi or A Day in the Life. How about giving them black and white Kodaks for a back-in-the-day feel? ~Maggie

Copyright information - [Untitled. Front Stoops], 1935-1936 Modern gelatin silver print from the original negative (c) Eudora Welty, LLC; Eudora Welty Collection - Mississippi Department of Archives and History. ~ Maggie

Friday, February 6, 2009

Haiku Friday!

A lakeshore circus:
An elephant trumpeting
Waves on blue water.

Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright (Arcade, 1998)
Note: The artwork titled A Fresh Wave is by Mississippi artist Antoinette Badenhorst.
The photograph is taken by Koos Badenhorst. ~ Maggie

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Fifth W!

Rick Bragg, author, journalist and longtime admirer of Willie Morris, will speak TODAY on "Willie’s Humor" from 5-6:30 at the Willie Morris Library, 4912 Old Canton Road in Jackson. The program is part of a series "Willie Morris: The Man and His Words," sponsored by Jackson Friends of the Library.

For several years Bragg was national correspondent for The New York Times. In 1996, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, which the judges called "elegantly written stories on contemporary America." He has received the American Society of Newspaper Editor’s Distinguished writing award, and over 40 other journalism awards.

Among other books, he has published three family memoirs: All Over But the Shouting (1999), Ava’s Man (2002) and Prince of Frogtown (2008).

He has conducted writing workshops all over the country and currently teaches writing at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, call 601-352-1312. ~ Sheila Bonner

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Reading Assignment!

Please read two Delta plays:
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Summer and Smoke
for our next meeting
February 14, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Letter Writing Lesson

I think you all will love this video!!! The descendants of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington write to their ancestors on the eve of the inauguration of America's first black president. I think it can be used if students are given an activity to write to a fictional character or real individual. ~Shelia Bonner

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

March of the Phoenix!

Listen to the music, and see if you can visualize Phoenix marching back to the house with the pinwheel raised in her hand!

I got this video to showcase the Turner family, but I started crying when Little Man spoke. Drash's grandfather was one of the nicest to me when I first moved to Mississippi. I sat with him and the other Democrats at Rotary every Wednesday for nine years. He died four years ago, and the point that made me emotional was Little Man's voice. I could close my eyes (meaning no disrespect to Little Man or Mr. Taylor) and hear Mr. Taylor's voice. The pauses, the Southern drawl, the chuckles could be Mr. Taylor, and I miss him so. To me it is proof these men coexisted with mutual respect. ~Enjoy Maggie

Monday, January 19, 2009

Oh, Happy Day!

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!