Do you know the name of the first published African-American woman? Her name was Phillis Wheatley and I didn’t know of her either. Not until I took the 20th Century American Poetry course taught by my college advisor. We studied and deconstructed poems starting from colonial era poet Phillis Wheatley. To the modern 20th century poetry of Robert Frost.
I only knew of such authors and poets like Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and James Baldwin. And so my limited knowledge of other African-American writers had broadened with the course. For which I was grateful. Especially by the introduction to the life and poetry of Phillis Wheatley. A slave, who with her published works, inspired the belief in the poetic and intellectual potential of her race.
'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
"Their colour is a diabolic die."
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.
(Phillis Wheatley, 1753-1784)
Of course we all know of Langston Hughes. Langston Hughes was a poet, novelist, essayist and playwright from the Harlem Renaissance. He promoted racial equality with his writings as well as reflected the everyday of black life. Its culture and disparity.
The poem he’s most known well for, to me anyways, is Mother to Son. I don’t remember when I first read the poem. But I do remember learning the underlying message of never giving up when things get hard.
Back then, though I understood the meaning behind the poem, I could not relate to it. Until now, now that I have children on my own. And who often get frustrated and claim “I can’t do it” when met with a problem they can’t resolve. Even more so now when the stairs they’re climbing are the crystal stair while mine was the torn up floorboards. Even more so now, when they don’t understand just how good they have it.
Mother to Son
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor--
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now--
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
(Langston Hughes, 1902-1967)
On another note, my blog received its first blog award yesterday morning. The Very Inspirational Blogger Award nomination came from Shelah, blogger at theopenjar.com. I am so honored that my blog has been a source of inspiration and motivation that I’d like to give that same honor to other bloggers as well. So here are my nominees:
- Quanie Miller at Quanie Talks Writing.
- Chrys Fey at Write with Fey.
- Elizabeth Sims at Zestful Writing.
- Claudine at Carry Us Off Books.
- Olivia Savannah at Olivia’s Catastrophe.
- Kelly Hashway at kellyhashway.blogspot.com.
As for my sources of inspiration, they’re also my motivators. I’ve been a long time fan of Japanese animator, director and film maker Hayao Miyazaki. Just as I was bit by the reading bug at a young age and wanted to grow up to be just like Jo March. I also wanted to be able to write the same level of storytelling found in Miyazaki-san’s films. Then there’s my friends and family who’s believed, pushed and supported me and my writing. In particular my sons, who I want to set an example in following your dreams.
Note: If you were nominated for this award and you choose to accept, simply follow these guidelines: 1) Mention in your blog post who nominated you, 2) Pass on the love to a suggested 15 blogs (more or less) that have inspired you 3) Share the influences in life that inspire you!
Do you have any inspirational author and poets that's influenced your life and or your way of thinking? Please share in the comments section below.