"Black Woman Gossip" listed my favorite black women story collections, including Alice's IN LOVE AND TROUBLE: STORIES OF BLACK WOMEN. In particular I noted the transfer of African oral tradition to the printed word, with the necessity to shortcut African-American speech for varieties of oppressive reasons leading to virtues of expression and cadence, and, of course, secrets. Since then, today's publication of Deesha Philyaw's THE SECRET LIVES OF CHURCH LADIES (West Virginia University Press, 2020) pinched me like a church lady would, to tell me it's time for an update.
Gholar's display of glorious art and life-giving paintings, completed across five years, come with grown woman commentary about what it took to see each piece through. In wisdom, she snakes the darkest corners of life- grief, breakups, economic peril- in a chronology of change and chaos where blank canvas was the steadiest hold.
You'd be correct to expect this story of a young Renaissance woman's fantasy trip, to live like her iconic Black American idols, to be sexy and to weave in Josephine Baker. The novel's heroine goes to Paris in search of Baldwin and finds jazz, interracial love and the freelance hustler life...
Mrs. DuBois is a young master of its form, with characters I appreciate and respect within mere paragraphs of her writings of them, and full-circled or open-ended tales I can explore my own life and relationships through. The depth and variety of her public introductory work is profound. And, she is not stopping anytime soon…
"Critical study of womanhood, in all its complexities, is needed for today’s women who are still living through so many oppressions. Not that much has happened that we get to escape societal agreements about our sanity, our worth, our ability to contribute, our need for rest and to be protected and to protect and so on." Dr. Sharony Green, on her work and book "Remember Me to Miss Louisa: Hidden Black-White Intimacies in Antebellum America"
The gospel-influenced and classically-trained pianist and composer is in renaissance of interest and celebration thanks to the establishment of Billy Strayhorn Songs in 1997. The family-owned company's efforts include marking the centennial of his birth in 2015. The Bill Strayhorn Foundation, Inc's is committed to deepening appreciation for jazz music in general, starting with Strayhorn. Now longtime fans and new discoverers can enjoy Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life, a fine biographical coffee table book available from Bolden Books/Agate Publishing in Chicago.
One book with four different covers is just one aspect of the special story and brilliance behind 'A Bitter Pill to Swallow', just released from Blurb Books as the debut novel from writer and visual artist Tiffany Gholar. 'A Bitter Pill to Swallow' is a literal and figurative testimony of perseverance, triumph and concern for humanity in a novel debut more than twenty years in the making.