This week is all about watching If These Stones Could Talk reach new audiences through the hard work of authors Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck. They were recently invited to bring If These Stones Could Talk to present to Dr. Henry Louis Gates at The Lawrenceville School.
As their publisher and friend, I can’t help but think back to sitting with the authors around Elaine’s table every week, gathered next to overflowing boxes of research files, taking notes, writing and revising If These Stones Could Talk. Then, last November we got to the finish line. Throughout our three year journey to publication and beyond, Bev and Elaine have worked tirelessly to bring their messages to schools as well as the Sankofa Collaborative among other services through their Friday Truehart Consulting work.
A couple of years ago when I suggested Facebook as a place to reach their audience, grow their supportive community and tell the stories we couldn’t fit in the book, they were excited to connect their stories to headlines because we all knew the present was directly connected to the past. Now, we are six months after their book’s publication–and their work and their story continues—as their visibility continues to grow.
Check Out the last Friday’s Memory
Here’s the photo as well as an excerpt from the authors themselves. You’ll really want to join their 3500 followers on Facebook if you haven’t already!
From Bev and Elaine: So what does this have to do with us having the pleasure of meeting Henry Louis Gates? Along with his acclaimed specials on PBS and being one of the world’s leading experts in African American studies, his latest book entitled, Stony the Road – Reconstruction, White Supremacy and the Rise of Jim Crow is already a best seller and delves into what reconstruction was really all about—to divide, overwhelm and resist. Recently Dr. Gates wrote and narrated a two-part documentary film for PBS “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War.” So when we were invited to attend his final lecture at the Lawrenceville School for their 2019 Senior Capstone Series on “Race” and to bring our book to present to him we were ecstatic! That evening Gates literally “took us to school” about the years following the Civil War and how the nation initially tried to do the right thing by being inclusive and transformative between 1865 and 1877.
Ninety-two years ago, in May of 1927, Virginia Woolf created a memorable middle-aged female character (and a bohemian artist to boot!). I always return to Lily Briscoe for inspiration in Woolf’s classic novel To The Lighthouse published by Hogarth Press.
Both TIME Magazine and Modern Library named To the Lighthouse as one of the 100 best English language novels of the 20th century.
The character Lily Briscoe (a painter) experienced an epiphany at the age of 44. It happened as she stood before her canvas, and layers of memories accumulated inside her mind. She imagined those who had died. She remembered younger versions of those who had grown. The paths of so many lives, stumbled into her own, unfolded in fragments in her mind as she painted, and Lily thought to herself:
“Like a work of art,” she repeated, looking from her canvas to the drawing room and back again. She must rest for a moment. And resting, looking from one to the other vaguely, the old question which traversed the sky of the soul perpetually, the vast, the general question which was apt to particularize itself at such moments as these…paused over her, darkened over her. What is the meaning of life?
A simple question–one that tended to close in on one with the years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one. This, that and the other.…In the midst of chaos, there was shape.”
She would come, yes. But it was with difficulty that she took her eyes off the picture…struggling against terrific odds to maintain her courage; to say; ‘But this is what I see; this is what I see, and so to clasp some miserable remnant of her vision to her breast which a thousand forces did their best to pluck from her.”
These seem like good words for writers in the midst of complex projects, I think of Lily doing her best to stick to her vision in front of her easel–and remember: “In the midst of chaos, there was shape.”
In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 12th, I turn this week’s post to novelist Janet Benton, author of Lilli de Jong, a work of historical fiction I recommend.
I ran an interview with Janet for my series upholding women who carve brave paths that light the way for other women: Women on a Quest.
But first, I dedicate this post to all of the mothers out there (biological and otherwise) who feel the energy of caring in their bones. Here is the excerpt from the preface of Lilli de Jong.
This work of fiction began in the long days and nights of nursing and nurturing my baby. As I held her in my arms and listened to the ticking of a clock, a voice came now and then into my mind. It was the voice of an unwed mother from long ago.
Sometimes she railed against being cast out, with her life derailed for good, while her lover walked freely among respected persons. Sometimes my own moments merged with hers, as when I marveled at the calm that descended while nursing or felt a fatigue I could never before have imagined. After placing my sleeping infant down, I walked to my desk and jotted those words onto scraps of paper.
While pregnant, I was inclined to study. I followed the stages of a growing human. I looked into practices of labor and delivery and armed myself with all manner of ideas and stuff. I considered these acts to be preparatory, even protective. Yet for my own specific labor, and for the actuality of caring for the infant who emerged, I was utterly unprepared.So perhaps this was when the door to Lilli’s story opened: when I was stunned at being the basis of a newborn’s survival and awed by how my body and heart changed in service of her. Becoming a mother was no small shift in identity. I would never see any aspect of living in the same way again.
Oh and be sure to read about Janet’s journey and check out her theme song for her quest to uphold long forgotten mothers.
[otw_shortcode_button href=”http://www.kimnagy.com/interviews/women-triple-quest/the-lilli-quest-the-long-lost-voices-of-fallen-women/” size=”large” icon_position=”center” shape=”square”]Meet Janet[/otw_shortcode_button]