Remembering Toni

Remembering Toni

Literature
San Miguel Literary Sala
Salute to Black History Month
Tribute to Toni Morrison
Thu, Feb 27, 5–6:30pm
Sala Literaria
Bellas Artes
Hernández Macías 75
50 pesos suggested donation

By Cynthia Simmons

Last year the literary world lost a giant, Toni Morrison. This year, the Literary Sala is celebrating Black History Month with a tribute to this internationally acclaimed novelist, essayist, book editor, and college professor. Praise for Morrison’s work grew incrementally. Her voice was different from other writers and she wrote about ignored facets of the African-American experience. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, received minimal critical attention. Only The New York Times said Morrison was “a writer to seek out and to encourage.” She received more praise for Sula, her second novel, and her third book, Song of Solomon, won the National Book Critics Circle Award. During her 49 year literary career, Morrison published 11 novels, six children books (with her son Slade), two short stories, poetry, and numerous articles and essays, some of which were compiled into three volumes. She also wrote two plays, song lyrics, and the libretto for an opera. Her numerous awards include the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Nobel Prize in Literature, France’s Officier de la Légion d’Honneur, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Morrison’s first five novels were published while she worked as an editor at Random House where she played a vital role in bringing Black literature into the mainstream. One of her first books was the groundbreaking Contemporary African Literature. Later she brought the autobiography of Muhammad Ali, The Greatest: My Own Story, to publication. Morrison also cultivated a new generation of African-American writers that included Toni Cade Bambara, Angela Davis, Huey Newton, and Gayl Jones.

After she left Random House, Morrison joined the faculty at Princeton University where she held the Robert F. Goheen Chair in the Humanities until her retirement in 2006.

Three women who count Morrison among their favorite writers, Paulette Quann, April McGee, and Cynthia Simmons will read selections from her oeuvre on February 27.

Pquann, a 13-year San Miguel resident, has been a clothing designer, fiber artist, and writer. She was a lifestyle columnist (Gannett Publishing Company), editor (Connecticut Country Life magazine and Kalliope magazine) and a marketing and public relations writer. Most recently she has self-published five children’s books available on Amazon and a dozen forthcoming kids’ audio stories.

McGee is a native of New Jersey addicted to yoga, cycling, and travel. Before moving to San Miguel in 2015, she was an engineering nerd in ergonomics at Bell Labs, department head at Siemens Corporate Research in Princeton, and chief of US technical staff at Human Factors International. Now living in Pátzcuaro, she indulges her love of singing out of tune and putzing with plants. Her passion is kindness.

After 30 years in Harlem and a brief stint in New Orleans, Simmons moved to San Miguel 15 years ago. Her career path has included acting, artist-in-residence for teachers and writers, production manager for Simon and Schuster, road manager for Cassandra Wilson, and director of development for HarlemLive. Please join them at 5pm on February 27 at Bellas Artes for this Tribute to Toni Morrison. Suggested donation is 50 pesos.