Tag Archives: fiction/literature

The Great Migration in American Culture, Politics, and Society

Toni Morrison’s parents migrated from Alabama to Lorraine, Ohio. Diana Ross’s mother migrated from Bessemer, Alabama to Detroit, her father from Bluefield, West Virginia. Aretha Franklin’s father migrated from Mississippi to Detroit. Jesse Owens’s parents migrated from Oakville, Alabama, to Cleveland when he was nine. Joe Louis’s mother migrated with him from Lafayette, Alabama to Detroit. Jackie Robinson’s family migrated from Cairo, Georgia, to Pasadena, California. Bill Cosby’s father migrated from Schuyler, Virginia to Philadelphia, where Cosby was born. Nat King Cole, as a young boy, migrated with his family from Montgomery, Alabama to Chicago. Condoleeza Rice’s family migrated from Birmingham, Alabama to Denver, Colorado, when she was twelve. Thelonious Monk’s parents brought him from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, to Harlem when he was five. Berry Gordy’s parents migrated from rural Georgia to Detroit, where Gordy was born. Oprah Winfrey’s mother migrated from Koscisusko, Mississippi, to Milwaukee, where Winfrey went to live as a young girl. Mae Jemison’s parents migrated from Decatur, Alabama, to Chicago when she was three years old. Romare Bearden’s parents carried him from Charlotte, North Carolina, to New York City. Jimi Hendrix’s maternal grandparents migrated from Virginia to Seattle. Michael Jackson’s mother was taken as a toddler from Barbour County by her parents to East Chicago, Indiana; his father migrated as a young man from Fountain Hill, Arkansas, to Chicago, just west of Gary, Indiana, where all the Jackson children were born. Prince’s father migrated from Louisiana to Minneapolis. Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’s grandmother migrated from Hollyhill, South Carolina, to Harlem. Whitney Houston’s grandparents migrated from Georgia to Newark, New Jersey. The family of Mary J. Blige migrated from Savannah, Georgia, to Yonkers, New York. Queen Latifah’s grandfather migrated from Birmingham, Alabama, to Brooklyn. August Wilson’s mother migrated from North Carolina to Pittsburgh, following her own mother, who, as the playwright told it, walked most of the way.”

Excerpted/Adapted from: Wilkerson, Isabel. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. New York: Vintage, 2011.

Rotten Reviews: Omensetter’s Luck

“…Gass has not a particle of the savoir-faire of Faulkner. The pages ramble on, almost devoid of dialogue. This first novel is not for the reader longing for a good story narrative.”

Library Journal

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.   

Circumlocution

“Circumlocution (noun): Wordy and indirect language, sometimes as an evasion; roundabout verbosity; an instance of wordiness. Adjective: circumlocutional, circumlocutionary, circumlocutory; noun:circumlocutionist.

Henry James, in his later fiction, tried to make his characters and prose so refined in subtlety that his paragraphs are often monuments of circumlocution. Edith Wharton recalled James’s trying to ask an old man the directions to Kings Road at Windsor: “My good man, if you’ll be kind enough to come here please; a little nearer-so” and as the old man came up: “My friend, to put it to you in two words, this lady and I have just arrived here from Slough; that is to say, to be more strictly accurate, we have recently passed through Slough on our way here, having actually motored to Windsor from Rye, which was our point of departure; and the darkness having overtaken us, we should be much obliged if you would tell us in relation, say, to the High Street, which, as you of course know, lead to the Castle after leaving on the left hand the turn down the railroad station.” Robert Morsheberger, Commonsense Grammar and Style'”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

Cultural Literacy: Science Fiction

Happy New Year!

I got out my computer this morning and ended up, as I often do, working some on this blog. Long story short, I have all the posts–twenty-four of them–set up in my drafts folder for Black History Month. And as long as I’m here, I may as well post this Cultural Literacy worksheet on science fiction. This is a half-page worksheet with a reading of three sentences and three comprehension questions. Just the basics.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Russell Banks on Linton Kwesi Johnson

He is, of course, a top-notch poet, and his bittersweet poems can indeed make us weak, make us feel incomplete. In 2002 he became the second living and first black poet to have his selected poems published in England in the Penguin Classics series. He is Jamaican by birth, and though he has resided for most of his adult life in England, where he took a university degree in sociology, he writes in Jamaican Creole. Not a dialect, not strictly a ‘patois,’ either, and not a mere post-colonial version of Standard English, Jamaican Creole is a language created out of hard necessity by African slaves from 17th century British English and West African, mostly Ashanti, language groups, with a lexical admixture from the Caribe and Arawak natives of the island. It is a powerfully expressive, flexible, and, not surprisingly, musical vernacular, sustained and elaborated upon for over four hundred years by the descendants of those slaves, including those who, like LKJ, have migrated out of Jamaica in the second great diaspora for England, Canada, and the United States. Fortunately, its grammar and orthography like that of pre-18th century British English, have never been rigidly formalized or fixed by an academy of notables or any authoritative dictionary. It is, therefore, a living, organically evolving language intimately connected to the lived experience of its speakers.”

Excerpted from: Banks, Russell, “Introduction,” in Johnson, Linton Kwesi. Mi Revalueshenary Fren. Port Townshend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 2006.

The Weekly Text, Friday 16 December 2022: History of Hip-Hop Lesson 2, Homer–History’s First Hip-Hop Songwriter

Here is the second lesson plan from the History of Hip-Hop Unit. This lesson posits, proceeding from the previous two, that Home’s Odyssey and Iliad, composed to be read aloud and to glorify Greece, that these ancient epics are two of the world’s first Hip-Hop songs. I open this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Muses so that students understand the reference in the first stanza of the Iliad. Here is the worksheet with reading and comprehension questions that is the centerpiece of this lesson.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Colette on the Pitfalls of a Happy Childhood

“A happy childhood is poor preparation for human contact.”

Colette

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Character Sketch

“Character Sketch (noun): A brief descriptive portrait in writing of an individual, usually with close observation of his or her distinctive traits.

‘In 1928 a private press published her character sketch of the Sapphic poetess Renee Vivien, born Pauline Tern, in London, of an English father and an American mother, a fragile neurotic figure who spent most of her short, self-destructive life in Paris, maintained in mysterious semi-Oriental elegance and living on spiced foods and alcohol in a garden apartment by chance next to Colette’s, near the Bois de Boulogne.’ Janet Flanner, Janet Flanner’s World”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

Oscar Wilde on Journalism

“There is much to be said in favor of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.”

Oscar Wilde

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Cultural Literacy: Realism

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on realism in literature and art. This is a half-page document with a reading of two sentences, the second of which is longish compound, and two comprehension questions. Once again, just the basics.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.