Langston Hughes’ house in Harlem rocked Thursday evening. It was the second event I attended there. Renee Watson, the founder of I, Too Arts Collective and my onetime New School student, leased Hughes' house last year.
Renee wowed me in class with the first paragraph of her first assignment. And now she’s wowing readers everywhere with her many books, which are garnering awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award for PIECING ME TOGETHER.
I didn’t arrive early enough Thursday evening to sit super close to Hughes’ typewriter. I was giddy sitting twenty feet away and glancing over at it by the fireplace as I sipped wine, ate cheese, and listened to the three writers read.
I was giddier about what I heard. Iain Haley Pollock’s poems touched me. Got inside of me. In one, a child eats strawberry ice cream. I can still taste it.
A lump formed in my throat when Renee read sections of PIECING ME TOGETHER. Talk about beautiful! Poignant! Great! I’m thrilled I am reading the entire book now at home.
After Renee, author Jacqueline Woodson read from her memoir in poems, BROWN GIRL DREAMING, which won the Newbery Book Award and the National Book Award among others and from her newest book, ANOTHER BROOKLYN. At one with her work, she is charismatic in person and on the page.
When she and Renee did a Q &A in the Schomburg Library* auditorium last year, I didn’t get to hear them up close and personal as I did at Thursday's reading. What joy!
My husband is in the middle of BROWN GIRL DREAMING. I’ll read it next.
Love ‘n Stuff,
ps. Langston Hughes' ashes are interred beneath a floor medallion in the middle of the foyer in the Schomburg Center