This month (February), Chloe Wofford, known in the literary world and beyond as Toni Morrison, celebrated her 88th birthday. We, at Heart of Yemalla, wanted to recognize this phenomenal writer before the month’s end and celebrate her artistry and canon of work.
“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”– Toni Morrison (from Beloved)
It is particularly important to me to do this because I’d say she was largely responsible for opening my teenage mind with Song of Solomon, the novel that catapulted her name into the spotlight. This book, I quickly realized, was like reading a saga of dark and soulful, narrative poetry. It made me stretch and the richness of her language led me to fall in love with her writing. I wanted to write like that.
“If you can’t count, they can cheat you. If you can’t read, they can beat you.”- Toni Morrison
Morrison was born on February 18, 1931 in the attic of a small house in Lorain, Ohio. Her grandparents were southern sharecroppers and at the time, Black people were not allowed to read. It was against the law. They lived in a time where even a White person could be punished for teaching a Black person to read. Having faced that wall, Morrison’s family took reading very seriously.
“Reading was like a revolutionary act.” -Toni Morrison
Morrison has been a professor at Texas Southern, Howard University, Bard and Princeton. Before the publication of Song of Solomon, Morrison edited the books of others at a little company called Random House. In the moments in between working and raising two young boys (alone), she wrote her first novel titled, The Bluest Eye.
She is probably best known for her ghost story, Beloved, which was published in 1987. She won a Pulitzer Prize for the book. In 1993, Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature and in 1998, through the efforts of Oprah Winfrey, Beloved was adapted into a movie, directed by Jonathan Demme.
Earlier this month, on February 12th, Morrison published her latest book titled, The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches and Meditations. According to Colette Bancroft’s article posted in the Tampa Bay Times, the works in the book span almost four decades, from 1976 to 2013.
I haven’t read her latest work yet but I really want to and I want to invite you to go on the journey with me in exploring this new collection by a great (my favorite) American writer.
You with me? Ready? Set. Go!
“It’s good when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.”-Toni Morrison (from Beloved)