Everyone is going crazy because Tyler Perry is going to write and direct the film adaptation of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf.” I’ll admit to clutching my pearls along with everyone else. I’m late putting this post up because I really don’t know what to say. I don’t like Perry’s work. I find Madea offensive. I also feel that his gender politics are a disaster. And he’s corny.
“For Colored Girls…” is sacred ground for me. I remember that I was about ten years old and my mother went to see it. My mom wasn’t a person to go out much; this is probably why I remember it. She said it was “powerful.” I snuck and read the book but I didn’t get it, but I remembered that it moved my un-moveable mother.
Later, as a student at Spelman College, I read the text and I got it, or I thought I got it. (I mean at 18, what did I know about “Someone Almost Walked Off Wid Alla My Stuff.”? Still, Toussaint Jones stole my heart, only for Beau Willie Brown to stomp it at the end.) At 38, I more than understand the lives that Ntozage Shange was bad enough to commit to writing. (And let me tell you, alla my stuff has almost gotten away from me, more than once.)
As a writer, I understand, too, what Ntozake Shange went through to tell those truths. If you thought that backlash against The Color Purple was bad, imagine that times 50. Ntozake Shange was called all kinds of man-hater and accused of being a pawn of the white man in a diabolical plot to destroy the black race. As you can see from her beautiful novels, Ntozake Shange is a community-loving woman. To be accused of being its enemy was a crushing blow. (And when you think of the black women writers who have been accused of high treason– Ntozake Shange, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Gayl Jones, Michelle Wallace– where are they now?)
While I was looking for more information on this Tyler Perry story, I found this interview with Nzingah Stewart, a young sister filmmaker. In 2007, she did a Q&A with Clutch:
Clutch: What projects are you currently working on? Nzingha: Finishing up a video for Jill Scott and preparing to shoot my first feature film an adaptation of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide: When The Rainbow Is Enuf, starring Angela Bassett, Alicia Keys and Sanaa Lathan.
It seems that Hollywood is walking off wid alla our stuff.
(Photos: Orginal Broadway poster, Ntozake Shange, Tyler Perry, Nzingah Stewart, “Madea”)
It’s time to celebrate another year of great southern writing. Join us at Idlewild Books in Union Square (NYC). I’ll read my very short story, “Some Thing Blue” and then we’ll get our wine and cheese on!
This is a great theatre season in NYC. Sarah Schulman has steered me to a bumper crop of new plays written by writers of color. If you are in NYC, please go out to support at least one of these events. (Full disclosure: I am only just now taking my trifling self to see Ruined, so I’m not judging. I’m merely urging.)
Here’s what’s coming up.
Along the lines of life imitating art/art imitating life, which book(s) seem to resemble your life?
A simple question but it left me stumped. Alice Walker famously said that Their Eyes Were Watching God was the first book she ever read that featured a brown-skinned heroine. Walker is talking about the thrilling shock of recognition that comes about when you read about a character who looks like you. I think it’s time to take it to the next level. I want to read a novel about a character that lives like me.
It’s time to write it.
A good friend and lovely writer called me yesterday in tears. She’s an adjunct professor at several local universities. She teaches a class here, a class there, and a class somewhere else, all just to make ends meet. “When am I supposed to write?” She asked.
My answer to her is really simple– 2 hours a week. I know that seems like not enough time to do anything, but it is. It’s not enough time to finish your novel or book of poems in record time, but it’s enough time to keep you moving toward your goal. Consistency is key. Carve the time out the way you would make time for a yoga class. Or, if you are a people pleaser: Carve the time out the way you would if it was something for someone else. Then, find a place to work. You can use your own home, but if you have a lot of people to answer to, leave your cell phone behind and go to the public library for two hours a week. If you can’t do that, maybe you have to transform your lunch hour on Monday and Wednesday to your writing hour. (And to be real– in lieu of watching True Blood and The Real Housewives of Atlanta, you can write your book. Let NeNe and them babysit your family while you handle your business.)
Two hours is not so much time that you would need to reorder your life, but it is enough time to keep your project alive. It’s enough time that you won’t be discouraging yourself by saying “I’m not getting anything done!” (A vicious cycle: You get depressed because you’re not working,and then you don’t work because you’re depressed.)Also, I believe that once you hit your stride with the two hours a week, the story (or poem) will sometimes ask you for more time, and you will find a way to provide it.
So, me and my friend Vickie, are taking a vacation– a Mediterranean Cruise to be exact. This will be my first real vacation in more than ten years. I know that I travel all the time, but the closest I have come to a vacation is going away to work a novel. The key word there is “work” and if it’s work, it ain’t a vacation.
Our sail date is in about two weeks and I want to gather up a couple of books to read by the pool. Although I love ToMo, I am not in the mood for a close re-reading of Beloved. Chillaxing with a sangria, I want to read something juicy! My summer time tastes leans toward mystery and thriller. Romance, not so much. (I think this because having never murdered anyone, I am not struck by how unrealistic the mysteries are. When it comes to romance, I have a little bit more experience, if you know what I mean.) I’m also down to read zany memoirs.
I have only one book on my list, so far. That’s HOLLYHOOD by Valerie Joyner because I love her booktrailers! What else should I take with me?