Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Voice of Zora, a Voice of Us

THIS SEMESTER, I'M WORKING ON a critical paper analyzing poetic text vs. poetic performance. The audio and video footage have repeatedly led me outside of 'poetry' and deeper inside myself.

Namely, I discovered that, of the many things I love about the South, what I love perhaps most is its sound: the slow crunch of a visitor's tires approaching down a dirt driveway; the electric whining of cicadas in the whiteness of August; the dark percussion of stomping heels moving an old Baptist church.

But among all of these sounds, what I love most are the voices of our people - from the Cajuns to the Geechees, from the Appalachians to the Low Country. These vibrations are the soul of what the South is.

In honor of these sounds, I'd like to share an aural treasure I stumbled across in my research - the voice of one who embodies what moves me about this place, who reminds me why I could never leave this place - or, at least, why it will never leave me. It is filled with the rocking of my Great Aunt Goldie weaving stories on her screened-in porch in Midland - the voice of north Florida's contribution to the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston.


BLUE said...

it is so wonderful discovering Zora and her connection to what is aboriginal and "original." i recently kept company with her niece's wonderful collection of handwritten notes and letters (... about all THREE of her husbands), christmas cards, photographs, first drafts and other authentic memorabilia (yes, even these had sound). the collection is called Speak, So You Can Speak Again. the experience of this book is more like the journey through an art book, which i'm starting to love as a way to *do* poetry. there is even a CD ... with Zora singing work songs and talking about *how* she wrote what she wrote. very sonic and deepening. now if we could only get the estate of Alan Lomax to admit how much of this he might have culled from our Zora.

M. Ayodele Heath said...

Hmmm... What if Zora and Alan Lomax met on stage?

(BTW. Have you checked out Tyehimba's Leadbelly book? He really put his foot in it.)

Anonymous said...

She sounds like one of the Mothers (older women) at my church.