In a 2017 NPR interview, Mississippi native and award-winning author Jesmyn Ward said of her home state, “There’s a feeling of belonging and of ease and of knowing who I am that I feel [there] that I don’t feel anywhere else. There’s this entire web of people I’m connected with...a way of understanding myself: who I am, and where I come from, and who I come from.”
Ward has taken her deep love and knowledge of the Mississippi coast and woven it into the pages of her acclaimed Bois Sauvage trilogy of novels: Where the Line Bleeds; Salvage the Bones; and Sing, Unburied, Sing.
The books tell the stories of African American families whose lives are “pinioned beneath history, poverty, and racism,” and in this class, we will reflect on how their depictions of landscape, lineage, liminality, and love not only make Ward's writing fresh and affecting, but also give readers insight into the legacy of Jim Crow and the lives of families dispossessed by America's history of racism and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
February 27 - Where the Line Bleeds (2008)
March 27 - Salvage the Bones (2011)
April 24 - Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017)
This class takes place remotely online via Zoom. Register to receive the zoom link and class instructions.
Michelle R. Smith is a writer, educator, cultural facilitator, and native Clevelander. She is the author of the poetry collections Ariel in Black (2015) and The Vagina Analogues (2020), and the creator of BLAX MUSEUM, an annual performance showcase dedicated to honoring notable black figures in American history and culture. Michelle’s favorite writers include Toni Morrison, Ntozake Shange, Sylvia Plath, Terrance Hayes, and Saeed Jones.