I have never read anything that touched me as deeply as The Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. Nothing. The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo is the nearest piece of writing… and that is brilliance.
Song of Solomon was more than brilliance. It was the story of African-American generational curses that Nova Bordelon could only hope her fluffy book of family secret telling could be. It was, for me, that one singular piece of writing that sparked my interest and inspired me to pick up a pen and tell a story.
Now I’m not a fiction writer… but neither, in my humble opinion was Morrison. Her stories were steeped in history and tradition and frankly narratives that were very much real, played out by characters that mimicked people we all knew and loved. She set their souls on fire, made their love bigger and grander, made their hurt and pain bleed off the page, and gave their poor lives rickety stairs to walk down and their strong spirits horses as mighty as oxen upon whose back to ride. Most importantly, she was dedicated to the Black ancestral storytelling tradition. She passed on our history; She was a griot. She colored in our identity; She was an artist. She taught the masses that we loved, hurt, felt, sang, danced, and wrote and our story was worthy to be told; She was a teacher.
She wrote Black characters with the universe in their spirits, the sounds of Coltrane and Aretha in their souls, the moves of Cab Calloway and Katherine Dunham in their feet, the kindness of Martin and the by all means necessary of Malcolm in their freedom songs. She wrote us free, whether we were bound and gagged or footloose and fancy free. Our freedom of mind and heart was paramount. She gave us voices that spoke words of eloquence and pulchritude like Baldwin, with the virtuosity and tenderness of Nikki Giovanni…
“then I stood…
… and laid me down…
She showed us what a sense of true self looks like…”You are your best thing.” -Beloved
She showed us what grief, and more specifically, loss, with it’s many faces, can look like… “It was poisonous, unnatural to let the dead go with a mere whimpering, a slight murmur, a rose bouquet of good taste. Good taste was out of place in the company of death, death itself was the essence of bad taste. And there must be much rage and saliva in its presence. The body must move and throw itself about, the eyes must roll, the hands should have no peace, and the throat should release all the yearning, despair and outrage that accompany the stupidity of loss.“-Sula
She showed us what kind of trauma can result from hatred, particularly racism…”those eyes that held the pictures and knew the sights-if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different.” -The Bluest Eye
She showed us the deep levels of beauty, passion, and creativity that is present in the least of us…”The visionary language of the doomed reaches heights of linguistic ardor with which language of the blessed and saved cannot compete.“-Paradise
She showed us that if you wanted to be bigger and better, you had to be free…
She also showed us, that we have work to do, as a people, and that we can, in fact, just be… without explanation… who tf we are… “It’s important to know who the real enemy is and to know the very serious function of racism, which is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining over and over your reason for being.” -Morrison on Black Artists in Portland, 1975
I salute you Queen✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿… time to take your rightful throne, give ’em a bit of heavenly hell, and show us how to fly while being fly!
And I… I will write… that’s my work!