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!