Shirlene Green Newball*
A lot our writers are great editors of books, newspapers, and essays. Veronica Chambers, our previous author, was an editor at Newsweek, Glamour, and The New Times Magazine, been the first black woman with that title. Yvonne Vera (1964-2005), also edited several anthologies by African women writers.
She was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (Africa), studied and imparted English Literature at Njube High School. Years after, she immigrated to Canada, where she completed her higher studies and worked.
While she was studying her first collection of short stories Why Don´t you Carve other Animals (1992) was published in Toronto Magazine. A year later her novel Nehanda, was printed followed by Without a Name, Under the Tongue, Butterfly Burning, and The Stone Virgins. Her writing discloses topics of colonialism, sexism, racism, war, oppression, and others.
Many of her works were shortlisted and won awards like Commonwealth Prize for Africa, Germany Literary Prize, Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa, the Swedish Pen Tucholsky Prize, and others.
Vera was the director at the National Gallery, a similar position that Victoria Santa Cruz (1922-2014), had at the National Folklore School in Peru.
This Afro-Peruvian poet, choreographer, composer, and activist had 10 siblings who were taught the Afro-Peruvian culture by her parents who were a painter, dancer, writer, and playwright. Along with her younger brother, they cofounded Cumanana the first black theatre.
At an early age, children rejected Victoria in her neighborhood because of her color skin; they shouted at her: “Black, Black.” This gave her the courage, braveness, and creativity to write her emblematic poem Me gritaron Negra (They called me Black) was dramatized.
She received awards and honors from the Peruvian and French governments. Her works had been exhibited in museum and festivals in several countries. Her peak moment was in 1968 when her group Teatro y Danzas Negras del Perú performed at the Olympics in Mexico City. Her art pieces are collected on CD or web platforms.
Santa Cruz used lyrics and music as instruments to declare her poems. Likewise, Elcina Valencia Córdoba (1963), used these same techniques years later in her works.
A writer and musician from Buenaventura, Colombia (South America), she learned her artistic interest from her mother who was a musician. At the age of 17, she wrote her first poem for one of her high school teachers.
During her career, she participated in several local, national, and international events. In 1991, the Roldanillo Rayo Museo organized an event to present her poetry. It made a huge impression on the directors of the museum, so they decided to publish her first book entitled Todos somos culpaples (We Are all Guilty).
Other literary works attributed to her are Rutas de autonomía y caminos de identidad, Susurros de palmeras, Analogías y anhelos, Pentagrama de pasión.
She had received the Almanegra equivalent to Almamadre given to the most prestigious writers, National Prize of Erotic Poetry a recognition plaque; and recently she was listed between the most outstanding women of Valle de Cauca.
Córdoba is part of the committee of Buenaventura to preserve the folklore from the South Pacific same role Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), played for the USA folklore collection.
She was inborn in Eatonville, Florida (USA), she was the fifth of eight children from a marriage of a carpenter-preacher and a schoolteacher. She attended school at a late age (13); however, she achieved a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology.
She was a great novelist, playwright, and researcher. From 1921 to 1935 she published in magazines several stories and essays, for example, John Redding Goes to Sea, Spunk, Muttsy, The Fire and the Cloud, The Great Day, etc.
In 1934, she published her first novel John’s Gourd Vine, which was acknowledged by the critics. Following were Mules and Men, Their Eyes were Watching God, her masterpiece, Tell My Horse, Moses, Man on the Mountain, Dusk Tracks on the Road and Seraph on the Suwanee.
Hurston won several literary and alumni awards during her career. In 1956, she received an award for Education and Human Relations at Bethune-Cookman College.
During her career, Hurston traveled to several countries to compile the history of the black communities. Angela Nzambi (1971), born in Lia, a district in Bata, Equatorial Guinea (Africa), also collected oral history of her community to be used in her books.
This writer, feminist, and human activist who reside in Valencia, Spain, actively campaigned for the black community and migrants.
Nzambi literature work includes Nguisi, based on an oral tradition from her village and stories of her personal life. Biyaare (Stars) describes different characters that had shown like stars. Her third book Mayimbo (Wanderings) won the International Justo Bolekia Boleká Prize for African Literature.
She also participated in the production of a collective literature Navidad dulce, Navidad (Nativity, Sweet Nativity) and 23 Relatos sin Fronteras (23 Stories without Borders).
A lot of the authors listed before are considered feminists, so is the case of our last recognized author who is an energetic writer and art producer from Brazil. Jenyffer Nascimento’s (1993), born in Paulista, Pernambuco; desire to write started at an early age, but it wasn’t until she completed her teenage that she got to express her anger, anguish, and hopes true her rap lyrics.
Nascimento describes in her poems social issues, relation with the land or city, black pride, love, black woman experiences, among other topics.
Her book Terra Fértil (Fertile Land) is a collection of poems that demonstrates the experiences of black women from the outskirt of São Paulo. Her works have also been published in Pretextos de Mulheres Negras (Pretext of Black Women), which, compiles the work of 22 contemporary black writers.
*Shirlene Green Newball is an Afro-Nicaraguan journalist and feminist who lives in Finland.
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