Review: Black Women Writers at Work

June 16, 2011

Black Women Writers at Work (Black Women Writers at Work, Paper)Black Women Writers at Work by Claudia Tate

I had read this initially more than 20 years ago and it’s definitely time for a revisit. So I started today with Claudia Tate’s interview with Toni Cade Bambara. Even though on one level, the interview is dated, as Bambara refers to 1980’s in future tense, when it comes to a writer’s life….and the role of a writer in society, it’s as timely as well….time.

Some quotes from the interview:

CT: How do you fit writing in your life?

TCB: "[…}I just flat out announce I’m working, leave me alone and get out my face. When I "surface" again, I try to apply the poultices and patch up the holes I’ve left in relationships around me. That’s as much as I know how to do…so far.

CT: What determines your responsibility to yourself and your audience?

TCB: I start with the recognition that we are at war, and that war is not simply a hot debate between the capitalist camp and the socialist camp over which economic/political/social arrangement will have hegemony in the world. It’s not just the battle over turn and who has the right to utilize resources for whomsoever’s benefit. The war is also being fought over the truth: what is the truth about human nature, about the human potential. My responsibility to myself, my neighbors, my family and the human family is to try to tell the truth. That ain’t easy. There are so few truth-speaking traditions in this society in which the myth of "Western civilization" has claimed the allegiance of so many. We have rarely been encouraged and equipped to appreciate the fact that the truth works, that it releases the Spirit and that it is a joyous thing.

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