Alice Walker

Save this on DeliciousAlice WalkerCourtesy of Wikipedia

EXPECT NOTHING

Expect nothing. Live frugally

On surprise.

become a stranger

To need of pity

Or, if compassion be freely

Given out

Take only enough

Stop short of urge to plead

Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger

Than your own small heart

Or greater than a star;

Tame wild disappointment

With caress unmoved and cold

Make of it a parka

For your soul.

Discover the reason why

So tiny human midget

Exists at all

So scared unwise

But expect nothing. Live frugally

On surprise.

Alice Walker

Early life

Walker was born in Putnam County, Georgia,[3] the youngest of eight children, to Willie Lee Walker and Minnie Lou Tallulah Grant. Her father, who was, in her words, “wonderful at math but a terrible farmer,” earned only $300 ($4,000 in 2013 dollars) a year from sharecropping and dairy farming. Her mother supplemented the family income by working as a maid.[4] She worked 11 hours a day for USD $17 per week to help pay for Alice to attend college.[5]

Living under Jim Crow laws, Walker’s parents resisted landlords who expected the children of black sharecroppers to work the fields at a young age. A white plantation owner said to her that black people had “no need for education”. Minnie Lou Walker said, “You might have some black children somewhere, but they don’t live in this house. Don’t you ever come around here again talking about how my children don’t need to learn how to read and write.” Her mother enrolled Alice in first grade at the age of four.[6]

Growing up with an oral tradition, listening to stories from her grandfather (the model for the character of Mr. in The Color Purple), Walker began writing, very privately, when she was eight years old. “With my family, I had to hide things,” she said. “And I had to keep a lot in my mind.”[7]

In 1952, Walker was accidentally wounded in the right eye by a shot from a BB gun fired by one of her brothers.[8] In 2013, on BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs, she said the act was actually deliberate but she agreed to protect her brother against their parents’ anger if they knew the truth. Because the family had no car, the Walkers could not take their daughter to a hospital for immediate treatment. By the time they reached a doctor a week later, she had become permanently blind in that eye. When a layer of scar tissue formed over her wounded eye, Alice became self-conscious and painfully shy. Stared at and sometimes taunted, she felt like an outcast and turned for solace to reading and to writing poetry. When she was 14, the scar tissue was removed. She later became valedictorian and was voted most-popular girl, as well as queen of her senior class, but she realized that her traumatic injury had some value: it allowed her to begin “really to see people and things, really to notice relationships and to learn to be patient enough to care about how they turned out”.[4]

After high school, Walker went to Spelman College in Atlanta on a full scholarship in 1961 and later transferred to Sarah Lawrence College near New York City, graduating in 1965. Walker became interested in the U.S. civil rights movement in part due to the influence of activist Howard Zinn, who was one of her professors at Spelman College. Continuing the activism that she participated in during her college years, Walker returned to the South where she became involved with voter registration drives, campaigns for welfare rights, and children’s programs in Mississippi.[9]

On March 17, 1967, she married Melvyn Roseman Leventhal. She worked as writer in residence at Jackson State College (1968–1969) and Tougaloo College (1970–1971) and was a black history consultant to the Friends of the Children of Mississippi Head Start program.

Selected works

Novels and short story collections

  • The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970)
  • In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women (1973)
  • Meridian (1976)
  • The Color Purple (1982)
  • You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down: Stories (1982)
  • To Hell With Dying (1988)
  • The Temple of My Familiar (1989)
  • Finding the Green Stone (1991)
  • Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992)
  • The Complete Stories (1994)
  • By The Light of My Father’s Smile (1998)
  • The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart (2000)
  • Now Is The Time to Open Your Heart [a novel] (2004) Random House ISBN13 9781588363961
  • Everyday Use (1973). Short stories, essays, interviews

Poetry collections

  • Once (1968)
  • Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems (1973)
  • Good Night, Willie Lee, I’ll See You in the Morning (1979)
  • Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful (1985)
  • Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems (1991)
  • Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth (2003)
  • A Poem Traveled Down My Arm: Poems And Drawings (2003)
  • Collected Poems (2005)
  • Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: New Poems

Non-fiction books

  • In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose (1983)
  • Living by the Word (1988)
  • Warrior Marks (1993)
  • The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult (1996)
  • Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer’s Activism (1997)
  • Go Girl!: The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure (1997)
  • Pema Chodron and Alice Walker in Conversation (1999)
  • Sent By Earth: A Message from the Grandmother Spirit After the Bombing of the World Trade Center and Pentagon (2001)
  • We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For (2006)
  • Overcoming Speechlessness (2010)
  • Chicken Chronicles, A Memoir (2011)
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2 thoughts on “Alice Walker

  1. V.A. Farria says:

    It is beautiful. Thank you for visiting my friend.

    Love, light and blessings

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