Nella Larson Lives
“At the time of her death, her work had been forgotten.” pg. 551, The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 1914-1945, Volume D
Two novels conceived in the belly
of a biracial beast
quicksand unsteady under soles
her soul passing back and forth
between black and white and why
What is culture between cultures?
Who goes there and what belongs as truth?
Where does the privilege of being remembered
begin and end?
Identity is a slippery snake
slamming into the slick of
ignorant-eyed judges – icebergs
above and below the waters of worth
Nella, we have not forgotten you
Your name in lights
flashing to the rhythm
of Time’s heartbeat
Death does not become legacy
in your books you are black ink white pages
you are all of your words
Nella Larson (1891-1964) was a writer, an integral part of the Harlem Renaissance, who penned two novels, Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929) published by the prestigious publisher Alfred A. Knopf. The daughter of a white mother (Danish) and a black father (West Indian), Larson asked herself “how there could be such a thing as racial authenticity if there was no such thing as ‘pure’ race.” (pg. 550, The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 1914-1945, Volume D).
Novel update. Status: slow-going and ‘ugggggghhhh’.
Didn’t work on the novel at all over the weekend. Wrote for 1 hour on Monday and 1 hour yesterday. Each hour was painful…the words hiding. I hope today is better. I think that one of the reasons I’m struggling is because of where I’m at in the storyline. There huge plot points that need to happen. They’re taking their time revealing themselves. The characters are…being coy or stubborn…or both.
This Friday, I get to talk to students about being a poet and a writer for a virtual workshop. I’m excited…I will let them know about the struggling and the joy.