A Modest Tribute for Mari Evans
For those of us who know we are not a United States Census category, nightly reinventing ourselves to please everyone other than ourselves, Mari Evans (July 16, 1923 -- ) is an Afrikan, a woman, and then a writer to read, a writer to be looked on, an Afrikan woman to be loved for having said
on me and be
In her statement on poetics for Angles of Ascent (New York: W. W. Norton, 2013), Evans wrote:
If there are those outside the Black experience who hear the music and can catch the beat, that is serendipity; I have no objections. But when I write, I write according to the title of poet Margaret Walker’s classic: “for my people” (42).
When we read with discipline, the severe discipline of Evans’s craft, we pay respect to her own classic: “I Am A Black Woman.”
One proper celebration of Evans’s lifetime achievement on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, is reading
I Am A Black Woman. New York: William Morrow, 1970.
Nightstar 1973-1978. Los Angeles: UCLA Center for Afro-American Studies, 1981.
A Dark & Splendid Mass. New York: Harlem River Press, 1992.
This is merely a beginning. The continuing tribute must include reading her books for the young, Where Is All the Music (Heritage 1968), her works for theater --- River of My Song, Boochie, Portrait of A Man, Eyes: A New Musical (1995) ---her anthology Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation (New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1984) ---reading her works published in magazines, especially “Decolonization As Goal/Political Writing As Device.” First World 2.3 (1979): 34-39.
The objective of tribute, celebration, and project is to read and remember Mari Evans and be renewed.
Jerry W. Ward, Jr.
July 3, 2013