As a writer, the works of Zora Neale Hurston, Gloria Naylor, Lucille Clifton, J. California Cooper, Jessica Care Moore and CP Patrick have inspired me immensely. In a society where most school curriculums are whitewashed the works of these Black Women writers are a breath of fresh air. These authors remind me, that I am not alone in the struggles that I face as a Black woman. Not only are their struggles similar but each woman has a different writing style and showcase a variety of Black Women voices. Read below about some of my favorite writers.
Zora Neale Hurston
“Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can anyone deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”
If there is nothing else to be learned from Zora, it is to believe in yourself and to have confidence in your unique individuality. It was often said that Zora could fill the room with her charm and enter your heart. She had a presence about her and a way with words. Zora would go on to be “the most successful and most significant Black woman writer of the first half of the 20th century.” Leaving behind for generations of masterful works including There Eyes were Watching God, Moses, Man of the Mountain and Mules & Men a collection of Black Southern Folklore.
“Life’s too short to spend time trying to explain the obvious to an idiot.” Bailey’s Cafe
Don’t waste your time on those that do not want help, spend that energy on uplifting yourself. The First time I read Gloria Naylor was Mama Day freshmen year, and it changed my life. The women were so strong, powerful and unique and yet it was like I was reading about the women in my own family and the kind of woman who I wanted to be. Naylor’s works remind us of our strength, resilience, and power. Naylor is ” best known for her award-winning book The Women of Brewster Place. Published in 1982, the novel went on to earn Naylor the National Book Award the following year. In 1989, it was adapted for the screen and made into a miniseries by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions.” (Ebony)
homage to my hips
these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top
Black women, love your hips. While we can make attempts to control our weight, our hips will always defy the rules of gravity and society. Lucille Clifton was an award-winning poet and amazing writer who reminded us to love ourselves and remember our power. Clifton’s short often un-punctuated poems are meaningful beyond the lines. He poetry often focused on her family womanhood and Black Civil rights. Clifton published several books of poetry as well as many children’s books before passing in 2010.
J. California Cooper
“There is always some beauty in life. Look up … and get on with it. Build you a rainbow. Do it yourself! If you can’t do that, build your mind near one. Learn how to fly. Then … soar a little.” ― J. California Cooper, Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime: Stories
Queen of the short story, J. California Cooper moved readers with her many collections of stories focused on family, womanhood, and love. Many of my summers as a young adult were spent reading the stories of J. California Cooper. Her short stories would bring to life the varied struggles of black women and through the struggles the women always found a way to go on loving life. Cooper’s stories are as real and lively as my grandma shared with me stories about my own family. Once you pick up one of Cooper’s books it is hard to put them down. One of Cooper’s Stories Funny Valentine was turned into a TV movie starring Alfrie Woodard and Loretta Devine and received much success.
Jessica Care Moore
“I don’t know how to teach inspiration but somehow sometimes, there is a break-thru moment when you make a mistake and actually inspire.
Five-time Apollo winner, Jessica Care Moore is a powerhouse poet and collaborator. She is most known for her poem Black Statue of liberty and her several performances on Def Poetry Jam. As a poet and a spoken word artist, she transforms the stage with her poems about Black womanhood and the Black Experience. Moore gives a voice to the voiceless and encourages her students to do the same by speaking their truth. While Moore lives for the stage, she also advises young poets to have their works published. Moore herself has published 4 books of poetry and a memoir.
“I have always enjoyed storytelling, especially narratives told through the voices of the African diaspora. Their influences are so diverse, so vast. I love incorporating elements of fiction and fantasy into their realities.”
Author of the powerful novel The Truth About Awiti, This literary newcomer has already made her place among the greats. The tale of Awiti is one of historical fiction, merging real accounts of African-American struggles through history and the thoughts and feelings of those who endured them. Recently Patrick published a collection of poetry titled Dear Ancestors, an homage to those that can before us and endured the struggles that killed so many.
Do yourself a favor and research more of the life and works of these amazing writers. Comment below some of your favorite writers and books.