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AfriGeneas Writers Forum

Marilyn Nelson: Writing Inspired by Her Genealogy

Greetings Afrigeneas Writers Forum:

After posting the poetry of Marilyn Nelson, I found an interview in which she talks about her family history which became the subject of some of her work. Presented on the National Book Foundation's website, Nelson speaks of themes that interest her and subjects in her writing.

"Last year, for example, I taught a seminar on African-American women's narratives, and we read several slave narratives in which the women were raped and brutalized by white masters over and over and over again. I wanted to talk about finding pride in our parents' generation, and in our parents' parents' generation, in people who triumphed over slavery, who behind closed doors stood up straight and said, "We know who we are. They may not know, but we know."

"I had the feeling that we African-American writers need to show that. The story of my family, the story I grew up with, is not a story that begins with rape. It's a story that begins with love, and it's a story that needs to be told because it humanizes our ancestry. It says that we are not necessarily children of rape, that love can grow even under the most difficult circumstances. And also I think it humanizes the face of the oppressor, and says that there were people who, even in the most unlikely circumstances, retained their humanity enough to at least attempt what was then an impossible love."

Please read Marilyn Nelson's interview at the link below.

Write Away

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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