Track 1: Welcome and thanks -- Zale Writer-in-Residence Committee Student Members Casey Haugner, Nadja Tilstra, and Cheryl Schmitz
Track 2: Introduction by Mab Segrest, Visiting Tulane Mellon Professor in the Humanities
“Stay on the battlefield” Three poems by Sonia Sanchez
Track 3: “Morning Song and Evening Walk” (for Martin Luther King)
Track 4” “An Anthem” (for the African National Congress and the Brandywine Peace Community)
Track 5: “For Sweet Honey in the Rock”
“We are on an American Guineaman traveling East” Joanna Scott
from The Closest Possible Union
Track 6: The Middle Passage I: Setting Sail
Track 7: The Demise of the Ship’s Cook
“Endangered Species” Linda Hogan from Power
Track 8: The Hunt
Track 9: Killing the Panther
Track 10: “Dear Papa...” (Middle Passage II) Joanna Scott
Track 11: “The Hurricane” Linda Hogan
Track 12: “Praise God” Sonia Sanchez
Improvisational musical accompaniment by Eluard & Company under the direction of Eluard Burt, II.
Concept and direction: Mab Segrest
Coordination/production/publicity/documentation: Crystal Kile
Choreography and set design by Yvahn Martin, N ‘03
Recording by Michael Batt and David Emerson
PROGRAM NOTES BY MAB SEGREST, VISITING TULANE MELLON PROFESSOR IN THE HUMANITIES
Sonia Sanchez performs her poetry of resistance and desire from Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems (1999). The first set of poems, each dedicated to people who worked for human liberation, evokes the larger and global battlefield, the historical context for these struggles. In Part two, Sanchez returns to “Praise God” and call us to common ground and a humanity that is deeper and more powerful than the spirals of violence in which we are embedded.
Joanna Soott reads from her 1988 novel The Closest Possible Union, which tells the story of the voyage of the Charles Beauchamp, a slave ship that sets out from New London, Connecticut to Africa in the years before the Civil War. The ship is disguised as a whaler because the crew is in violation of international law against the slave trade. Scott tells the story from the point of view of Tom Beauchamp, the ship owner Charles Beauchamp’s adolescent son. Scott’s first passage begins the voyage and tells the fate of the ship’s cook Jack Carvee, who becomes an early sacrifice to the cruelty of the slave trade. In her second reading, “Dear Papa,” Tom struggles to understand his father’s character and motives in sending him out for such a cruel education in white, property-owning manhood. Tom becomes part of a peculiar set of mutineers who vandalize the ship’s steering mechanisms, causing most of the crew to leave the ship to the released Africans, a Captain who has drunk himself to death, a raving abolitionist preacher, “Peter Gray” (a young woman passing as a man) and our Tom, who ends his narrative adrift.
Linda Hogan reads from her novel Power. Set in Florida, the story describes the process by which Omishto, a young indigenous woman, decides to return to the traditional ways of the Taiga tribe after her beloved Aunt Ama kills a panther, the tribe’s totem animal. Hogan’s first passage takes us on this hunt to kill a creature already sickened by the encroachment of “civilization” on its natural habitat. Hogan’s second passage takes us with Ama and Omishto through the eye of a Florida hurricane, in which the world is turned upside down, a tree as old as colonialism itself falls, and the wind strips the native characters bare and prepares them for transformation. If we are all, like the panther, Ama and Oshmito, “endangered species,” Hogan suggests, we also have the power and responsibility as humans to reclaim other, more restorative, forms of power and self.
Together, these disparate characters’ voices, together with music and movement, manifest the power of art to name and mourn human cruelty and to encourage and celebrate continuing efforts towards justice and a fuller humanity.
The Zale Writer-in-Residence Program was established by Dana Zale Gerard, Newcomb 1985, and has been supported by annual gifts from from the M. B. and Edna Zale Foundation of Dallas, Texas. The program is facilitated on campus by a committee of students, faculty, and staff organized through the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women.
This recording of “Shake Loose Our Skin: A Litany and Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Zale Writer-in-Residence Program” is the property of the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women and may not be included or archived in any commerical publications (printed or online) without written permission. Listeners may reproduce these files for educational purposes in accordance with the princliples of fair use of copyrighted materials as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, as Amended 1994. Artists and performers retain copyright on their respective intellectual properties. For specific copyright information, for permissions and other information, please contact the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women, Tulane University at email@example.com or 504 865 5238.
Newcomb College Center for Research on Women