Thursday, December 10, 2009
Dope by Design: Zora Neale Hurston
"Those that don't got it, can't show it. Those that got it, can't hide it."
Zora Neale Hurston is my favorite writer/folklorist of all time. Their Eyes Were Watching God was the first book I'd read of hers at the age of 12. It was completely fascinating to me at such a young age and it wasn't until I moved to Memphis in '96 that I realized I was merely reading her work. I was not experiencing it.
Zora wrote in a broken and intuitive southern vernacular that made little sense when read, a bit of sense when spoken and perfect sense when experienced (to a certain extent) in my daily life. Living in the south brought Zora's characters to life for me.
"I’m skeered of dat man when he gits hot. He’d beat you full of button holes as quick as he’s look etcher."
In high school I began to read everything "Zora'd" ever written. Sweat is my favorite. I researched the Harlem Renaissance and her integral part in it. I read her biography and marveled at the similarities..she was a capricorn, birthdate just ten days before mine, she lived in the first all-black town in the U.S., Eatonville, Fla, my family lives in one of the first all-black resorts in the U.S., Woodland Park, Mi, and she lived briefly in Memphis with her brother. (I may try to find that house one day)
The mystique of Zora is also one of the many reasons I adore her...there are few proven pictures of her and her age and birthplace are somewhat unknown because she willingly lied about/recreated her past. Unfortunately, we kinda had to be there to experience her dopeness but, fortunately we can still experience her dope works of art.