I am currently working on a series of poems to and for specific people. There is this new poem I am working on that plays almost as a letter to Zora Neale Hurston. For those of you that don't know, Zora is one of my writing loves. She is completely nothing short of brilliance and beauty. I thought I'd share this letter of hers to her editor that was shared with me recently. Enjoy:
Mr. William Stanley Hoole Birmingham-Southern College Birmingham, Alabama
Dear Mr. Hoole,
I think I must be God's left-hand mule, because I have to work so hard. Thats very funny too, because no lazier mortal ever cried for breath. But the press of new things, plus the press of old things yet unfished keep me on the treadmill all the time. Thats how come I havent answered your most kind and flattering letter before now.
My next book is to be a novel about a woman who was from childhood hungry for life and the earth, but because she had beautiful hair, was always being skotched upon a flag-pole by the men who loved her and forced to sit there. At forty she got her chance at mud. Mud, lush and fecund with a buck Negro called Teacake. He took her down into the Everglades where people worked and sweated and loved and died violently, where no such thing as flag-poles for women existed. Since I narrate mostly in dialogue, I can give you no feeling in these few lines of the life of this brown woman with her plentiful hair. But this is the barest statement of the story.
I am glad in a way to see my beloved southland coming into so much prominence in literature. I wish some of it was more considered. I observe that some writers are playing to the gallery. That is, certain notions have gotten in circulation about conditions in the south and so these writers take this formula and work out so-called true stories. For instance, one Russian lady got hot under the collar and walked out of a party because I wouldn't say that I had suffered terribly down home. It seems that she had helped arrange the party for me to expose my suffering and the "real" conditions in the south and when I said I lived pretty much the same in New York and Florida, she used that back-house word and walked out. Being poor myself I am heartily in favor of poor people getting hold of money but I fail to see the difference between an under-paid cotton-picker and an under paid factory hand. So why stress Alabama? The under dog catches heck everywhere. Nobody would love to see ideal living conditions for everyone more than I, but I sense insincerity when only one section of the country is held up for example. But I do feel that the south is taking a new high place in American literature. Caldwell, Peterkin, and that new-comer David C. Cohen (God Shakes Creation) and Bliss Carmen?(Stars Fell on Alabama)are definite contributors to life. Not to mention Sherwood Anderson, whom I think is almost equal to Caldwell, if not equal. T.S. STribling is a monnyark, thats something like a king you know, only bigger and better. I love him.
You asked for a paragraph and this is a pretty long one that I have on this page. But I was trying to give you a peep into my mind. I thought hard and tried to make a statment about the literature in a sentence, but I couldnt make it.
Sincerely, Zora Neale Hurston
P.S. I come of an Alabama family. Macon County.