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tv   Alice Walker Gathering Blossoms Under Fire - The Journals of Alice...  CSPAN  June 29, 2022 9:06am-10:09am EDT

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service. good evening, everyone, i'm michelle, senior program manager at the dallas museum of art and i'm delighted that you've tuned in to hear that alice walker. and our partners, now more than ever, it's an enormous privilege to join forces with outstanding organizations whose impact on the dallas fort worth community warrants deep praise. we are indeed stronger together when we join forces. at this point i'd like to recognize the educators and students who join us this evening. their tenacity, determination during a tremendously difficult period in history continue to make our communities better and stronger. what an honor it is to feature alice walker in the arts and
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letters series, the first african-american, the eighth child in share crop e, she was valedictorian of her class, despite vision in her left eye. she became a political activist and met dr. martin luther king, jr. and participated in the march on washington. her formidable body of work, essays, short stories, children's essays and her writings have been translated, and there are copies of his books sold worldwide. now, gathering blossoms under fire. the journal of alice walker, edited by the late beloved author valerie boyd, access five decades of ms. walker's
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extraordinary life. and they wrote beautifully about the collection. alice walker is a truth-telling, culture-shifting revolutionary artist and citizen of the world. these journals are a revelation, a road map and a gift to us all. moderating the conversation this evening is layman, recipient of the naacp literature for his genre bending novel, long division. hae been hailed as one of the powerful new voices in american writing. his work includes the essay collection, how to slowly kill yourselves and others in america, the best selling memoir heavy, which won the 2019 andrew carnegie medal for nonfiction and named one of the 50 best memoirs in the past 50 years. his beautiful writing digs down deep into the human soul. it's a pleasure to welcome
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these two extraordinary authors to arts and letters live. i hope you enjoy the conversation and hope you'll add a question for ours in the chat box. >> thank you for being here tonight. we want to encourage you to subscribe to the channel and get all of your questions in the question ask section of youtube. i want to say something before we begin. i've done hundreds of interviews, but never done an interview like this. before we begin i want to thank you, ms. walker, for fighting so ferociously for us, for loving us, for giving miss miss a chance, and for really making writers, weather you knew it or not. and i knew it was going to be that kind of conversation, we're going to push a little
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bit, but we don't get to by making people often, thank you, thank you. >> and a beautiful being, you are, too. and your beautiful self. >> i'm so happy to be here. i wonder if we can start this conversation, ms. walker, talking about friendship. since, it's something that you really grapple with, wrestle with and actually like dedicate the last movement of the book to. and in talking about friendship, i think we have to talk about valerie body. valerie boyd was generous enough to edit the forward that you allowed me to write for the 40th anniversary of "the color purple" and i feel there's a great one between he had course and friends and overlap and valerie to accept all parts of me in conversation, but found a way to edit even during conversations. she was editing the piece i wrote for "the color purple",
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she said you're writing this as if you're writing about a revolutionary, you are, but she's a revolutionary who created a revolutionary human book. i wonder if you could tell me what it was like working with valerie, especially she left us so recently. >> i think it has to be rare to meet the person you trust with your inner most, deepest thoughts and feelings. there has to be felt and i really felt this, a gift from the universe, na out -- that out of nowhere, in a way, just when i need this person, trustworthy, smart, no nonsense, you know, on my side, even though, you know, we had some issue we could deal with it, but totally present. totally dependable and really, as i said, under a photo of her on my blog, just the best,
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because that's what the best is. >> right. >> someone who is going to be there. >> yes. >> and telling you what they think. it's so helpful when people just tell you what they think. >> that's right,that's right. >> now, once she had me visit her class and she told me that the very best editors allow you to be fearful and then encourage you to be courageous, but she says also the best editors are often like, you might be afraid to do that so i wonder if she did any of that in this amazing opus of journals that we're about to talk about. >> well, there are times when, you know, she was just wondering, you know, how far i was going. >> right. >> but she was also very respectful about my need to be free in my journals as i am in
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my existence. >> yes. >> so we had those conversations and she understood my spirit. and she did. and i understood her spirit, partly because of wrapped in rainbows book that she did, which is this, you know, incredible, beautiful, brave, and trusting, you know, the thing about zora in a way, so many terrible things were said about her, there's a point where you just have to trust that people are a good person. this person did not do all the heinous things that they claim and blah, blah, blah and valerie was like that and we knew each other because we had worked together and got my papers partly because of valerie and rudolph and beverly and we were all wonderfully a unit, you know? so she understood. she understood a lot and see went with her feelings.
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>> i love it. >> and needs to be done. >> you know, one of the things i've heard you talk about over the years and write about is this desire that you wish for revolutionary to get old. i was trying to study and you said that specifically about other people, too, and you know, i want to start this conversation asking the question i think i'm most afraid to ask, which is like, you are a revolutionary human to us. >> yes. do you see yourself as a revolutionary human to yourself? >> of course. >> no question. no hesitation. >> no, why wouldn't i be a revolutionary? look at all the nightmare that we have to go through and if you weren't revolutionary you'd be complacent. and i can't be complacent. i never have been. >> right, right. i love that. >> i accept that in myself and i'm grateful.
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>> now, i feel like these journals are, among other things, attempts at accepting that, accepting the freeness and the revolutionary potential of all humanity, but particularly of the human creator of the journal. and yesterday when we were doing our tech, i was a little sick and i talked to you about the first alice walker phrase, i remember reading, and i was probably 11 and maybe 10, and my mother, obviously, had everything you'd ever created and there was this piece called never offer your heart to someone who eats hearts, and i just want to read the first of it. because you talk about heart meat in that poem. and the first stanza is never offer your heart to someone who eats hearts, who finds heart meat delicious, but not red, who sucks the juices, drop by drop, and bloody chin grins
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like a god. that's a first -- and as i reread the journal, i just thought like this is an exercise in perpetually tending to one's heart meat. you revised your journals in the time you were creating it. there are points you talked about writing something and come back to your journals with a red pen. did you feel like you were tending to your heart meat when you were creating and talking about-- >> i always felt i was tending to my heart. this is the only heart i have. >> yes. >> and it is rare. >> yes. >> as is yours rare. all hearts, you know, are rare and we should be careful who we extend them to. >> oh,that's right. and you know, and an extension of that question makes me wonder how protects their heart meat when they're seen as a
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revolutionary human by millions. like, how does one protect their heart meat when so many people, loving despicable, know you more than they thought they did. how do they protect their heart meat while appearing to let everyone in their heart. appearing to allow everyone into their heart. >> it helps i've lived this long. most revolutionaries don't make it. we have a long list of people, you know, i think right now of lamumba, in congo he was so-- or cama or -- and all the people who, you know, who put their hearts out there, but at some point -- but i'm not -- they knew what was possible. >> yeah. >> and i see it as an act of love, really, to try to help
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humanity evolve and at this point just survive. >> yeah. >> so, that is comforting to know that you do your part. you know, who knows what is going to ham. and people are leaving every minute from all kinds of things. you may be next, of course, but you've done your best and that's what is important. >> and you know, one of the things that i love about you doing your best is that you never neglected mississippi. you came to mississippi to fight and you came to mississippi to wander and it feels like you came to mississippi to wonder and you didn't just come to mississippi, you talk about ferris street and the restaurants and meeting the then love of your life and you also met organic revolutionaries from mississippi and that the revolution came to mississippi. >> to mississippi. >> can you talk about that a little bit. >> and mrs. hanson and her
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sister, i forget her name right now, all of these women, but men, too, of course, they were right there, they were home grown as is true all over the south and some never make it, that's why you don't hear interest them. they're obliterated before they can do what they need to do. mrs. hudson had been doing all kinds of revolutionary work in mississippi and plus writing her autobiography which i helped her to do and then had to leave before she frnd finished it, but she finished at some point with a friend of ours, marilyn rowen. and you're right, often people from the north when they came there, they can't recognize the revolutionaries because they didn't know. they didn't realize what they came out of. >> that's right. that's right. you talk about it as soul, and
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you use the word soul and one thing that you found when you got off of that bus was soul, but you also talk about the poetry of the specific revolution in miss miss and i wonder if you can talk more about like the feeling of getting off of that bus, having read so much about it and heard so much about it. how did what you see and felt and touched and taste, differ from what you expected when you got there? >> i recognized my own family and i recognized my own people, but i recognized that the ones in miss miss were more awake, that they were awake. and they had all the same kindness of people over in georgia, but they were also politically way more awake and it was just they had lost so many people to assassination. you know? they lost people medgar evans had been shot down in front of his children and the air of people who knew they were
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suffering and why they were suffering. and that's a big gain. >> yes. >> you know, sometimes in the south, people, you know, they didn't realize what had happened during reconstruction, and you know, put back into kind of the system, and you know, so that there's a lot of kind of bee wilderness, how the world had gone against them. but in miss miss, you know, there was so much trouble, you know, so much pain. people were really very awake and they were standing and they were standing in incredible beauty. it makes me cry today, thinking about hearing them singing as they're going up against enormous pressure. and loving, and helping each other. i mean, real revolution is about helping people. it's about freeing people and helping people, feeding people, teaching children, you know, it's so good and they had that. and the old people, they were old revolutionaries and young
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revolutionaries and they're out there, you know? >> that's right, that's right. and one of the things, i mean, for those of us who have attempt today read everything that you've written, i just want to say, this is a different experience. and i'm going to talk to the audience right now. this is not just behind the scenes, this is behind the scenes behind the craft, behind the soul. and so, when you -- you use these words, a jewish law student working for naacp, you fell in love with a jewish law student working for naacp legal defense fund and when you came back, you were adamant you were coming back married. you weren't just going to-- can we talk about that decision? >> sure. because i want people to understand that i'm not all that in favor of marriage, but it is legal, and as a revolution i wanted to be
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married. and going back to the south with a white man was so anathema to the culture at that time, that was something i had to do. i wouldn't go back as a mistress, wouldn't go back and say what is she exactly? well, for that period i was his wife. >> right. >> and that was illegal so deal with that. >> and that was illegal until '91 or '92. and so, that is what i think people don't, really, really-- and my last year in high school is when legal in mississippi. i want to talk about solitude for a bit if we can. one of the wonders to me of the book we see how you actually, i'm going to use is, this is my word, love and need solitude yet you also need and love
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people, right? so you have to fight the urge sometimes to do what you want to do, which is to be alone with the world, right? with the-- you're never alone, if you read your work, you say you're never alone. you're communing with the world and nature, the grass, like the gods, the goddesses, but that appears to run counter to someone who also has made it abundantly clear to fight. can we talk about the waring positions isolation and solitude, and needing to fight for yourselves and others. >> it's a struggle, it's been a strug. on the other hand, just for instance, i understand the history of the native american people and my ancestors are native american, but beyond that, i understand and i understood that when indigenous people stood, i had to be there.
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especially from the early days because there weren't that many people aware and i have been reading, i had been reading a lot. and i understood a lot. so when somebody called me and said we've got to raise money to, you know, help this issue or we have to go and stand on a mountain somewhere and pray, i'm so happy, really, i mean, it's not even-- it was i'm happy, but at the same time, by the time i got home, all i wanted to do was just go in the deepest corner of my field where nobody could see me. >> yeah. >> and be perfectly content to just be not even anywhere. >> yeah. >> and you know, one of the things that you do in this book, i mean, you know, people throw that word brave around and we're writing all the time, and so, i don't want to-- i don't want to lapse into that cliche, but i feel it's brave to talk money as a black person, as black folk in this
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nation, other people, too, but black folk, and especially black women, you know, my grandmother was 18 years old, she worked in white people's houses, she worked in the field. she was trying to get a plant job, but she hustled enough money to buy an 800 square foot shot been house in mississippi, at 18 that was her house, she lived in a community of black women who bought their own houses and invited husbands into the husband and put them shoes out the door when they didn't act right. you talk about the importance of -- the importance and also the pattern of you looking for different places to live and stay and be. why was it so important not just to write it in your journal, but to keep it in your journals when you shared that with us. >> because i'm a sharecropper's daughter. when you're a sharecropper's daughter, son, or whatever, you
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have no house. they can put you out at 10 minutes notice. >> right. >> labor all year to bring in the cotton crop and then they tell you, well, you know, you still owe us money and you don't have money so it's out the door you go. and then you have to find another shack to live in. so, i understand perfectly well why-- someone wrote about it, my way of acquiring houses is like rich people buying houses and it's not, i never had one. >> wow, wow. >> so i understand my house hunger. i've had a hunger to have a home, you know, not to be somewhere where people can say, you have to get out. now shall the other thing, too, is growing up in the south and travelling in the south, you know, many people in this country can't even imagine what it's like to try to find a place to lay your head at night. >> that's right, i know that's right. >> and that's why i'm very adamant about, in my journals
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keeping a record of how we can, you know, maneuver around financially in order that we have a place to live. it's that simple, really. >> and you literally chronicle, for those of you who haven't read book yet, and after this i know you will, you chronicle the movement and working with other people and sometimes you've got to do it by yourself. and also there's heart break when it comes to the acquiring of property and i wanted to think about and talk about this idea of happiness, because in one of the journal, you say, is it possible to create out of happiness? now, that might not feel or sound, you know, immensely profound for people who don't, but some of us get lost in this idea that we have to be broken down in order to be alone and
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in order to write. you say, and i think at some point in your life, you must have been asking yourself that question. let me say, is it possible to create out of happiness? can we talk about that a bit? >> absolutely. what would you like to know? >> well, i wonder if -- okay, the big question i want to ask, was like, "the color purple is so vast" and i wondered parts of it, what parts of it were actually written out of happiness? >> most of it. >> yes. >> i may well have been weeping for my people. >> yes. >> but who wouldn't be happy to be able to offer this to us? who wouldn't be just ecstatic to be giving the gift as whole as you can make it, knowing it's good medicine. knowing. >> you knew it was good medicine. >> i knew it was good medicine. >> before anybody told you you knew? >> absolutely, absolutely, i knew it was good medicine. and i was so surprised and some
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people choked on it. and it really should not have happened. they should have been able, you know, i wanted them to take it, you know, and use it and go stronger, and more, you know, more open and more understanding and more loving. that is-- and some medicine as you know, tastes weird and, but just very good for you because of the truth that's in it, you know? root truth or word truth. >> you know, i grew up with my mother, her sisters and my grandmother and we used to watch, well, they used to watch the tony brown journals, tony brown journal show and i was a young person and had to watch with them. and my aunts were arguing that he called it "the color purple"
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and called a name. and you don't call people a name, and don't call out of use a name. and my grandmother forbid us watching the tony brown journals after this. and i'm in your you don't want to talk about this, but did it hurt at all when it had folk like tony brown, reed and some other people not accept the wonder of that medicine? >> of course. of course, it did, it hurt a lot. but you know, i discovered something, i'm quite sturdy. >> ooh. >> i'm quite sturdy. i have ancestors who were sturdy, my mama was sturdy and a young man who was stir bye and i knew it was good medicine. i never doubted it for a minute and i was sorry they didn't know how to read it and that
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was the tragedy not for me, to me. and then as you know i-- the storm raged all over everywhere, i just founded another publishing company and for people to publish and live with the trees who never criticized me and had a wonderful time. >> i love it. >> and while were you doing that and before you were doing that, you and june jordan created something called the sister hood. and i was really interested in the dynamics that you feel comfortable sharing about the sisterhood given all of the conversation that a lot of black creators have about scarcity models, right? people call it crayon in a bucket or whatnot. it feels like that might have been created-- not reactionary, to letting people see a scarcity as abundance. can we talk about the sisterhood and whether or not that was the root of it?
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>> the root of it was noncompetition in an unjust society and you're kind of quote, on the bottom, the way to rise is not by pulling each other down. it's not to compete. and you're not to think of yourself as in competition and especially because, whoever is pulling the strings is usually in some form of control, you know, over all of you, so one or two might rise, but basically, you know, they're controlled as well. >> right. so once you understand that and then also, that the puppeteer gets to pit you against each other and say nasty things, you know, covertly about this one and about that one is not quite right and blah, blah, blah. but if you already have among yourselves an agreement that all of that will just roll off your back, that is a habit, then it creates a whole different way of living with your creativity, your art and
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your life. >> when valerie talked to me about you being a revolutionary human, i see that so much in the journals in the way you allow us to see your humanity as relates to money. like sometimes you can be the most revolutionary human in the world and if you're a young person who has been fed the scarety model and somebody over there, people think writes just like you or looks like you is getting something, you might have a feeling for a second of, i don't know if it's jealousy, but wondering if anybody is it going to make space for you. you keep that in the journal to share with us. can you talk about the decision to write and also to share? >> yes, i think maybe you're referring to, when i was trying to sell my books on the street and getting nowhere, and when tony would-- tony morrison was getting $300,000, there's a moment where you have to own what that feels like and that's why i left it in there so that people
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can see that you're a human being. it hurts when you have so little and somebody else seems to have so much. now what makes the difference, before that, tony and i and june and other women had formed this circle where we decided that no matter what happened, we would always be true to each other. >> goodness. >> that's what revolution is, it's putting it all out there and understanding how it works, but getting together beforehand or in the midst and that you would not be played in this way. you know, so that you will continue to see each other's work as valuable and whole and necessary, and that there's room on this planet for all of us. >> yes. >> so, you know. >> and one of the things that i did not expect to feel so
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concretely in the gathering blossoms. how every decision one makes about the creation and crafting of a book is important. and it's equally important on the other side of life, what with undoes with those books and those papers. so you deciding-- you could put the papers anywhere on earth. right, you could have them anywhere on earth. you decided if they were going to be at emery, in georgia, particularly in the south. can we talk about why the south and not new york or not somewhere in california or everywhere else or paris, anything like that? >> i'm a southerner, with the accent coming there, i'm a southerner. [laughter] >> i'm a southerner and i claim -- i can't seem to live there because it hurts too much, but when i think of my south, you know, the prime
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trees alone would make me want to be there, you know, the feel of the earth, and the memories of having watermelon patches and seeing my father walking along the dirt road, you know, it's all in my heart and i feel that -- i know who is down there. i mean, you know, the people of color, especially, who are down there. i know those people, i know they're good people and i want to be accessible. i want to be there. when they need me, they don't have to go any farther than atlanta. >> yes, yes. i love it. i love it. >> and journalling, right, like this is-- this is where i feel like the book pushes those of us who for whatever reason give ourselves to reading and writing. i really wondered how much journalling has taken place
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since you turned in the last copy of the-- the last draft of the book. is this still a daily occurrence for you? >> yes, pretty much. i mean, not as much as before, but you see, when they bought those journals and all the other papers, i literally stopped almost in the middle of a sentence and they swooped up-- you know, so not only is there the ending of the amount of journals that i sent them, but there's a whole other stack. >> yes. >> because there have been a lot of days and weeks, i mean, sometimes i would go a long time without journalling, but it's a way to keep your spirit healthy, because you begin to understand deeply, deeply, who you are. >> yes. >> who is this? why do i feel this way? what was i like five months ago? what happened three months ago.
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>> yes. >> it's very good, especially when you cannot trust always, or you may not be able to find therapy, you may not be able to find someone to help you. you can learn to help yourself by paying attention. >> and paying attention often means that you find the cracks, right, or the contradictions of one's younger selves and one of the things that i just found, i mean, you know, so wonderful and also, just-- we talk about jealous. i was so jealous of the way that you wrote about desire. you know what i mean? i mean, and it's weird, right? like i've read everything you've ever created and i think shown people, but you do it a little different here. you know, when you're talking about different partners and talking about, you know, oh, my goodness, when you described-- when you described this one
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brother who was, you know, he was a baby as a lover, and he would go to sleep and he would hold onto the breast like a child. i mean, it was just -- you were trying to sell that, you needed to write that down for you. >> you know, i can't remember that exactly, but you know, sexuality is important and being open about it is wonderful. and i was just thinking about today how, you know, people you know-- they say orgasm which is okay, but think of what they used to say. they would call it coming, and there's so much more, i don't know, not pleasant, but just better about that word because it has-- it's like angels, you know, like community, it's like life, it's like love, whereas orgasm
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just seems kind of brief, you know? >> it's weird to me that a nation that's so like actually does not believe in science, but tries to become scientific when talking about that, right? like that which brings us whatever it brings. so, i definitely feel that. i mean, there's-- i mean, there are a lot of reasons to read this book, but the way you write about desire pleasure and partners, partners who satisfied you and partners who satisfy you in another way and you write about yourself and your desire to discover was so unexpectedly lush. >> good. >> yes. >> and the part that they wouldn't let me put in. >> that was my next question. my next question i wonder if valerie cut some of that out. >> a little bit had to be cut
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out and she's wise, but it's that part of life is completely natural. you know, it doesn't have to be tricked out in some weird way, you know, and it's a part of existence. >> and you know, sometimes, i found myself half reading this book wanting to pit journalling up against social media. that was me, you did not do that. and i found myself asking myself, you know, like what would happen if instead of writing these sort of intimate things to people with intention of getting a lot of likes and retweets. you actually still wrote to yourself to find out what you actually feel before sharing it. and so, without-- you don't demean social media or gadgetry, necessarily, but you also really do because you have a blog that you keep, but you also talked significantly
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about the importance and show us about the importance of writing long hand. so much so that you have injured yourself writing longhand. you wrote your novels longhand. >> some of them. >> some of them. can you talk about the difference for you in journalling now versus when you do blog writing? is that still journalling when you put it on your blog or is that different? >> no, i think in a way that kind of journalling, i really reached somewhere else, fuelly. so the blog is quite different. i mean, it still gives me the opportunity to regularly engage, you know, my thoughts and my feelings and to share them. >> right. >> so it's different and i can feel that it's different. in a way, the journals were about freeing myself, watching myself develop, encouraging growth, you know, looking at really hard choices in my life that i had to make and to try to
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understand why i was making them, where was i going? >> yes. >> and as i-- you know, if we had the other part of the journal, like from 2000 to, i don't know, 2015 or something like that we would see, we would see other relationships, for instance, my life didn't end. my companionable life didn't end and partnership didn't end in 2000 thank goodness. >> right. >> the most beautiful thing that you see, you see that life goes on. it continues. you don't have to be, you know, stuck forever moaning and groaning about god, this didn't work blah, blah, blah. it probably worked okay for what it was and then there is, as we say in mexico, the future, and there is life, you know, that's right there, you know, and it comes to you. and i don't have a single complaint about that.
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i feel like life has sent me, you know, everyone that i have needed up to this point to explore this world with. >> right. when you say life goes on, i think it's important for those people who might not be super familiar with your work to understand that you literally mean life goes on. there is no end. >> no. >> right. and what would that free you up to do if you believe there's no end. there's no end to what we are experiencing. >> there's no end. there might be an end-- there's an end of us as humans and that's probably not a bad thing, but in this realm of the universe and the earth in particular, which i adore, how can there be an end? have you ever looked at the grass? where do you think it comes from? have you ever looked at the tree? where do this he come from? they come from things that died, tied in the sense they're not what they were. nothing really dies you turn
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form and i feel that beautifully. i look at things and i think another lifetime i'll be that. i'll be that wonderful whatever. >> right. >> and i'm telling you, it's just-- you know, it's not for everyone, i'm sure, but for me, i'm happy with it. >> i love it. you know, and i went to school in mississippi until 1995 when i kicked out of college and luckily got into a cool school at oberlands and my first summer there, i read a book, to be real by rebecca walker, and i never-- i read a lot about, i was in my previous college-- i never read a book like that. in gathering blossoms you take us into your relationships with
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everyone, a lot of people, including rebecca, your daughter, who to me wrote the most invisible anthology that i've read today. and if you haven't read it check it out. it's an incredible book and i think it still stands up. was there any apprehension in opening up-- i'm asking for my mother, she asked me to ask you this. was there anything in opening up that part of your life, the part that deals with your very much alive writerly, editorially creative daughter? >> yes, i was very glad to be able to share it with her. >> you know, my feeling is that this is my life. >> yes. >> and i write from my life and you're in my life. you're likely to be in my writing. >> right. >> and she has actually read this, you know, in galleys, a long time ago and we're very good.
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you know, i mean, she just also published a book on money, women and money which is fabulous and i think has to transform our relationship to money and having money and what you do with money and i think that oddly, she learned some of this from my-- watching me when we-- when it was just the two of us and very little money and every single month i was there trying to figure out how i could do everything we needed from the small amount of money that we had coming in. so she is very aware of this book, you know, she's read it many times. she seems fine with it, and again, i see it as medicine for people. we're not the only people who have struggles, mothers and-- >> that's right. >> mothers and daughters. we're not. i mean, this is a territory that is full of all kinds of sufferers. >> yes, yes. you know, we're lucky enough to
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have high school students in the audience and i have other questions, but i want to be sure to get a few of their questions in before we continue. and one of them is, okay, this one is asking a question that i wanted to ask, but i'm too afraid. but this high school student says, what was your thought process behind creating suge character and what would this symbolize, from a young reader in texas? >> well, it symbolizes the freedom to actually fall in love with whoever you fall in love with and to realize there's no wrong choice. >> right. >> you know, if you believe in love, then you know that there is no wrong choice, you know, the person could be, on, short, tall, you know, black, green, and you fall in love because, thank goodness, you still have a heart. >> absolutely. >> and so i also-- but here is-- it's a good question. what i realized looking around
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in that novel for some male person, for her to be attracted to, there was none. there's none that she would have been attracted to because all of them were brought up, more or less, to behave in ways that would have destroyed her, and we want our-- you know, grandmothers and mothers and sisters to be whole and free and joyful. >> right. >> so, she's offered all of that health, that self-appreciation that we would have had none of. >> do you have any favorite characters that you've created? >> oh, god, i don't -- i don't think of them that way. i mean, i-- there are so many. i mean, there are so many that i would have to really seriously think about it. now, what i'm doing often is creating characters to help us see a certain situation. >> absolutely. >> and i love the ones who
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break through. now, in possessing the secret of joy, the woman who is genitally mutilated, you know, it's very dear to my heart. at the end of the book, she's killed by a spiring squad because she murders the woman who had mutilated her and so, you know, my heart is very much with her because i understood her. i understood when she finally realized what had been stolen, what had driven her insane, she had done something, you know, really-- we say, oh, no, you mustn't do that and they were killing her, but she was deeply in my heart. if 100 million women are genitally mutilated, you know, what do you do? >> right. >> you know? so that character i will always hold very close to me. >> love that answer.
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another question from the high school students is, again, these are young readers that are asking questions that are very hard to answer, i think. what is your plan for moving forward once you established a high arcy within the world of literature? i'm not really sure i understand that question because i don't think you're about high hierarchy. >> no, but coming from the cultures i can answer that question. i don't believe in hierarchies, i'm more as peace in my garden, going to shows and not seeing anyone for like two weeks and playing with my dog. i mean, those hierarchy, i don't establish a hierarchy of literature anywhere, as this person might know, actually my book is sometime really banned
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so, i don't see that i have that kind of power, nor would i want it. i'm very happy to be able to offer, you know, to be able to offer medicine, basically. i see it as that. >> right. >> and what the book does, the gathering of the blossoms, what it does, it shows you concocting the medicine, but shows why you need today create that particular medicine for you. you know what i mean? my grandmother would give us stuff cod liver oil and i didn't know it was called cod liver oil until i was 30. and she would say codliver, and it's the medicine. i love what you do, ms. walker, you're not above needing to take your own medicine. you create the medicine for you which makes it for so many folk
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and now with in book, you've shown us particularly why you needed to create the particular medicine you did and the community, the friends and people who helped you create it, is that a fair assessment? >> that's very fair, yeah, yeah. i'm very happy to have had people who did understand. >> one other question here is, it's a question about outlining. do you-- what's your writing method. do you outline or quote, unquote, just dive in? >> i meditate. >> oh. >> i meditate a lot. i walk a lot. i spend mornings really just, you know, just being, you know? and hearing the song of what being is on this planet. >> yeah. >> and i hope, you know, that i will receive something that i can share with people but if it
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doesn't come, i just garden. >> right, you just garden. i love it, i love it. and then, so, carol asks, how do you free yourself to just create? i would encourage carol to read the book, but how do you free yourself to quote, unquote, just create? >> well, that's, you know, i always when i give talks, i tell people that you have to think first about where you're going to live and this goes back to being a sharecropper's daughter. some people think that it's all just magic, but actually writers have to eat and if you have children you definitely have to do more than that, you have to put them through school and buy shoes, so, it really comes down to being, you know, exercising your practical side. so you try to-- and you must find a way to live that gives you ample time to do
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the work that you're dreaming of doing. >> and being from miss miss, we are, i think, very kind people, but when you cross us, or somebody we love, we are very unkind. we're going to get you, and i'm not saying -- i'm not sure that's a good thing or not, but a lot of people, when they found out i was doing this walk. people i don't know, people who i know, you know, tangentially. i can't believe you're talking to miss walker. i can't believe you're talking to miss walker and other people come in with critiques of you that they want me to actually make of you when i do not agree with the critique. [laughter] >> so what i want to do is not the critique, but ask you, and i think meditation might be one of the answers to this question. how do you deal with so many
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people like adoring you, holding you up on these quote, unquote, pedestals that are very shaeky. and those who say you're vile, harmful, anti-semitic and how do you deal with that and maintain safeness in your heart and soul and stay a revolution black woman. >> it's a challenge. when people accuse you of things that are false. there's not a lot to do. and i'll write back and explain how i see things, but people have to be willing to hear you, if they're not willing to hear you and if they're really intenten creating a caricature, what can you do? you know, i can't make them see my heart. >> right. >> you know, i can't make them
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see my behavior or see, you know, that i, as it in the case of anti-semitism part, which is painful. >> right. but the truth is that, you know, i've been to palestine and i grew up in georgia and it's 100 times, a thousand times worse in palestine than it ever was in georgia, get to that or mississippi and that's hard to believe. >> that's what my mama said, she went to palestine and said the same thing. >> well, there it is. if i'm constantly putting bombed out houses and assassinated children on my blog, then i must be, you know, stopped. so what can people do, but say, oh, she's anti-semitic, but that's ridiculous, and it is. and so, oh, you know, there's not a whole lot i can do about it. >> right. >> accusing me of being anti-semitic first because i -- i can't help liking david and
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he's got nerves. do i agree with every theory he's ever come up with, no, but some things he's come up with i love and i always will and i'm not going to denounce him to please these people who basically rarely show their faces. >> that's right. ... ellen dershowitz, you know, mr. i kept my shorts on. this is antisemitic. so, you know, i mean bernie, i love bernie, you know, i think he's he's the hope we had a hope here for some kind of political sanity. you know, it would be bernie sanders. so yeah. you know, i i've been booked in i've been scorn and i and i really rely on our music, you know, the spirituals the ones you know that they the the spiritual, the ones that say
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that. i have bee' scored. i've been talked about sure as you were born. and there are other songs like that that we should revise because we need them and that's why our ancestors created them. >> i think of people who find themselves wandering through this book will also see, like the kernels of faith. i'm not talking about religiosity right now but there's a kernel of faith in the work that you have done journaling and also creating. and i wanted to in the conversation with this question about faithfulness in revolution and revolutionary community and organization versus like this notion, this id of hope. how do you understand those? sort of radical faith if that
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exists versus what people might call radical hope. are those the same things to you? >> well, lucky for me i have lived in an era when i've seen and sometimes met true revolutionaries. >> yes. >> i mean peoplee to just knew the bullet was right around the corner and they were going to go around the corner. it's just incredible when you meet people who are willing to give everything they have for the dream of a common humanity. >> yes. >> in early days, i think they suffer so much now everybody is kind of crazy, but in the early days going there, for instance, been seeing those people just doing all they could do to learn how to read and write, you know, basically live a decent life, it wasns transformative. it was. just to know that it's possible.
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>> yes. and you spent time with fidel and you listened -- >> of course. oh, honey, he talked a whole lot and a lot of it was just incredibly interesting and wonderful. and he actually, unlike some leaders you meet them and they shake hand in everything, i with have conversation them. you realize they know very little about anything. he knew something about everything. remarkable, his mind. and his commitment and his humor.. >> yes. has your commitment to the common good of like living, you say i lovee his life is a life and you also defined life. you and your work and his journals you find life in places that a lot of us might be too hard that one except as life. you find life in the vulnerable. you find life in the grass.
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you find life in the note. you find life ingr disagreement. steady? been , like, i read the book second of it had to do this but maybe you feel like you are most, you are most at the possibility of not believing anymore that this can be better and you can do something to make it better. were you ever at a point where you were like i don't know if i can do anything to help this? >> it's kind of like that now, you know? i think when you look at the fact that the plan is basically collapsing and look at people actually still have war while the planet is collapsing, you know,se and all these weapons tt all these manufacturers have been making and now they are selling them. they see the war in ukraine and russia as an opportunity to sell weapons that's what's happening
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>> in plain sight, right? >> you have to laugh at this point because you tried this and you tried that, people are so beaten down that they seem to have lost a lot of the grip on reality. >> yes. >> so at this point i am really trusting the universe and this planet, which i love so much, to just leave me. >> yes. i love that. i think that we are at time and i just want to say thank you. thank you for your love of us. take you for your love of paragraphs and sentences. the writer robert jones told me to say that you were giving him the opportunity to write the prophets. but thank you most of all i just want to say selfishly again for
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honoring the love of mississippi, a place so many people neglect and failed to see the interior -- and the fact that t you found love, loving revolutionaries and creative possibilities in the blackest, for a state in the nation means every thing to me and that's part of what i'm here. i love you daily and i thank you for making time for us to. >> thank you so much. thank you. >> really thanks to alice and tremble for 20 ask and you in the audience. i am grateful to the team at simon & schuster for making this event possible. a limited quantity of "gathering blossoms under fire" with assigned bookplates are still available online and would be shipped directly to adam. members receive a 10% a discount on purchases. we are supported by our supporters, the endowment for
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the literate and performing arts and the mickey foundation arts and letters life endowment fund at the dma. major support isvi provided by e hearst foundation. the fairmont hotel delta this exclusive how to barter for the 2022 arts and letters series and promotional support is provided by ker era. thank you againwe for joining us and y we hope to see you again very soon. >> c is c-span's online store. browse through our latest collection c-span products, apparel, books, home decor and accessories. there's something for every c-span fan and every purchase helps support our nonprofit operation. shop now or anytime at >> c-span now is a free mobile app featuring your unfiltered view of what's happening in washington live and on-demand.
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