Quote for the Day: January 2nd, 2022

The Color Purple: A Novel by Alice Walker

People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.

Alice Walker, The Color Purple: A Novel

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: November 2nd, 2021

Women by Alice Walker

They were women then 
My mama’s generation
Husky of voice—stout of
Step
With fists as well as
Hands
How they battered down
Doors
And ironed
Starched white
Shirts
How they led
Armies
Headragged generals
Across mined
Fields
Booby-trapped
Ditches
To discover books
Desks
A place for us
How they knew what we
Must know
Without knowing a page
Of it
Themselves.

© Alice Walker. Alice Walker is one of the preeminent American writers of her generation. She is a novelist, short story writer, essayist, poet, and activist whose work, while critically-acclaimed and highly-lauded by members of the literary intelligentsia, far surpasses any words which mere mortals may bestow upon it. For her 1982 novel The Color Purple, Walker won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The Steven Spielberg-directed film adaptation was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, and if you’re asking me, the fact that it didn’t win in any category is one of the biggest snubs in Oscars history.

I first read “Women” as a high school freshman, memorizing and reciting it for extra credit. Later on, it grew in significance for me when I read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and learned that if not for Alice Walker, Hurston’s great body of work would probably have languished in obscurity for all time. Walker’s acknowledgment of the labor of her Black women foremothers in making her own life possible is a major theme throughout her body of work, and nowhere is it clearer than in today’s poem.

Further Reading

“How Alice Walker Created Womanism — The Movement That Meets Black Women Where Feminism Misses The Mark” by Camille Rahatt (blavity.com, February 4th, 2020)

“In Search of Zora Neale Hurston” by Alice Walker (Ms. Magazine, 1975)

“Still Searching Out Zora Neale Hurston” by Kyle Bachan (Ms. Magazine, February 2nd, 2011)

“Womanist Theology” by Emilie M. Townes, written for and included in the Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America by Rosemary Skinner Keller and Rosemary Radford Ruether, eds.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: October 2nd, 2021

Song by Muriel Rukeyser

Make and be eaten, the poet says,
Lie in the arms of nightlong fire,
To celebrate the waking, wake.
Burn in the daylong light; and praise
Even the mother unappeased,
Even the fathers of desire.

Blind go the days, but joy will see
Agreements of music; they will wind
The shaking of your dance; no more
Will the ambiguous arm-waves spell
Confusion of the blessing given.

Only and finally declare
Among the purest shapes of grace
The waking of the face of fire,
The body of waking and the skill
To make your body such a shape
That all the eyes of hope shall stare.

That all the cries of fear shall know,
Staring in their bird-pierced song;
Lines of such penetration make
That shall bind our loves at last.
Then from the mountains of the lost,
All the fantasies shall wake,
Strong and real and speaking turn
Wherever flickers your unreal.

And my strong ghosts shall fade and pass
My love start fiery as grass
Wherever burn my fantasies,
Wherever burn my fantasies.

April 1955

Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980) paved the way for and mentored many of the twentieth-century’s greatest writers, among them Alice Walker, Adrienne Rich, and Anne Sexton, just to name a few. It is indeed a shame then that her own name has all but faded into obscurity, known only by a handful of milquetoast academics and the odd literature student lucky enough to come across her verse.

In both works, we see the personal melding with the political, illuminating the human costs of state-sponsored violence.

In addition to her poetry, Rukeyser was also a noted playwright, biographer, children’s book author, and liberal political activist. One can of a surety draw a direct line between Rukeyser’s poetics of resistance and anti-war sentiment in Theory of Flight (1935) all the way to Solmaz Sharif’s Look: Poems, which was composed using language found in a Defense Department dictionary. In both works, we see the personal melding with the political, illuminating the human costs of state-sponsored violence. In both works, lived experiences make the authors both participants and viewers in conflict(s) both interpersonal and global in scale.

For Further Reading

The Paris Review: Muriel Rukeyser, Mother of Everyone by Sam Huber (May 30th, 2018)

Muriel Rukeyser: A Living Archive (website)

Kenyon Review: On The Book of the Dead by Muriel Rukeyser by J.L. Wall

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

5 Books That Changed My Life

Link to original video posted on TikTok:
https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMRbeke5d/

I’ve been revamping my socials to all have matching handles and this is my second attempt at #BookTok. The first one got a little bit of traction but I think I know what I’m doing a little bit better this time around. To accompany the video, though, I’m going to give you, my blog readers, a little something extra: a gallery of the book covers of the books featured in my #BookTok *and* a blog-exclusive quote graphic from each book that I won’t be posting anywhere else.

“I don’t want to lose the boy with the bread.” – Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” – Alice Walker, The Color Purple
“To convey in any existing language how I miss you isn’t possible. It would be like blue trying to describe the ocean.” – Mary-Louise Parker, Dear Mr. You
“How wild it was, to let it be.” – Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
“The moon sets and the eastern sky lightens, the hem of night pulling away, taking stars with it one by one until only two are left.” – Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: September 16th, 2021

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.

There’s a lot of pain, yes, but there’s also so much joy. The Color Purple is so radiant it practically glows in the dark.

The Color Purple is one of my favorite books of all time. Because there are so many books I want to read, there are only a few books I’ll reread; The Color Purple is one of them. I get more from it each time I read it. More than just a great novel, it is a blueprint for expressing love through careful attention, through putting oneself in a place of openness and willingness to accept the love we feel we don’t deserve. There’s a lot of pain, yes, but there’s also so much joy. The Color Purple is so radiant it practically glows in the dark.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter and Instagram @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: August 14th, 2021

Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer’s Activism by Alice Walker

We are all substantially flawed, wounded, angry, hurt, here on Earth. But this human condition, so painful to us, and in some ways shameful – because we feel we are weak when the reality of ourselves is exposed – is made much more bearable when it is shared, face-to-face, in words that have expressive human eyes behind them.