On the Life of Margaret Walker: An Evening with Dr. Maryemma Graham in Convo with Randal Maurice Jelks

About the Event

Let a new earth rise. Let another world be born. Let a
    bloody peace be written in the sky. Let a second
    generation full of courage issue forth; let a people
    loving freedom come to growth.

—Margaret Walker, "For My People"

Written by Maryemma Graham, Distinguished Professor of English at KU, The House Where My Soul Lives provides a full account of activist and artist Margaret Walker's life and new interpretations of her writings. Join us for a discussion of this luminary title from an esteemed local scholar on May 4, 7 p.m., at the Raven. Graham will be in conversation with Dr. Randal Maurice Jelks, with time for an audience Q&A and book signing at the end.


About the Book

This first biography of poet and writer Margaret Walker (1915-98) offers a comprehensive close reading of a pillar in American culture for a majority of the 20th century. Without defining herself as a radical or even a feminist, Walker followed the precepts of both. She promoted the idea of the artist of tradition and social change, a public intellectual and an institution builder. Among the first to recognize the impact of black women in literature, Walker became a chief architect of what many have called the new Black South Renaissance. Her art was influenced early by Langston Hughes, her political understanding of the world by Richard Wright. Walker expanded both into a comprehensive view on art and humanism, which became a national platform for the center she founded in Mississippi that now bears her name.

The House Where My Soul Lives provides a full account of Walker's life and new interpretations of her writings before and after the publication of her most well-known poem in the 1930s in Chicago. The book rejects the widely held view of Walker as the "angry black woman" and emphasizes what contemporary American culture owes to her decades of foundational work in what we know today as Black Studies, Women's Studies, and the Public Humanities. She was fierce in her claim to be "black, female and free" which gave her the authority to challenge all hierarchies, no matter at what cost. Featuring 80 archival photos and documents and based on never before examined personal papers and interviews with those who knew Walker personally, this book is required reading for all readers of biographies of American writers.


About the Speakers

Maryemma Graham is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Kansas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Randal Maurice Jelks is a professor, a documentary producer, and the author of African Americans in the Furniture City and Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement. Jelks has most recently written Faith and Struggle in the Lives of Four African Americans: Ethel Waters, Mary Lou Williams, Eldridge Cleaver and Muhammad Ali. He was an executive producer of the documentary I, Too, Sing America: Langston Hughes Unfurled. He currently teaches American Studies, African Studies, and African American Studies at the University of Kansas.

 

 

 

 


Event date: 
Thursday, May 4, 2023 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm
Event address: 
Raven Book Store
809 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker By Maryemma Graham Cover Image
$73.46
ISBN: 9780195341232
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - December 2nd, 2022

This first biography of poet and writer Margaret Walker (1915-98) offers a comprehensive close reading of a pillar in American culture for a majority of the 20th century. Without defining herself as a radical or even a feminist, Walker followed the precepts of both. She promoted the idea of the artist of tradition and social change, a public intellectual and an institution builder.


This Is My Century: New and Collected Poems By Margaret Walker, Maryemma Graham (Contribution by), Nikky Finney (Contribution by) Cover Image
By Margaret Walker, Maryemma Graham (Contribution by), Nikky Finney (Contribution by)
$26.95
ISBN: 9780820345970
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: University of Georgia Press - October 15th, 2013

Margaret Walker became the first African American to win a national literary award when her collection For My People was chosen for the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1942. Over the next fifty years she enriched American literature in endless ways through her writings and, in 1993, she received the National Book Award for Lifetime Achievement.


How I Wrote Jubilee: And Other Essays on Life and Literature By Margaret Walker, Maryemma Graham (Editor) Cover Image
$29.98
ISBN: 9781558610040
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Feminist Press - January 1st, 1993

In this first comprehensive collection of autobiographical and literary essays, Margaret Walker--described by Booklist as "one of the intellectual beacons of her generation"--recounts the search for family and social history from which she wrote her carefully researched novel of the Civil War.


Conversations with Margaret Walker (Literary Conversations) By Maryemma Graham (Editor) Cover Image
By Maryemma Graham (Editor)
$52.50
ISBN: 9781578065127
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: University Press of Mississippi - October 15th, 2014

I read somewhere in Newsweek where Margaret Walker is one of those moral writers and that is supposed to be a form of derision. But to me, I could not have a greater compliment." Margaret Walker (1915-1998) began her writing career as a poet in the late 1930s. But she was cast into the limelight in 1966 when her novel Jubilee was published to wide critical and commercial acclaim.


Letters to Martin: Meditations on Democracy in Black America By Randal Maurice Jelks Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781641606035
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Lawrence Hill Books - January 11th, 2022

“You’ll find hope in these pages.


Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement: A Biography By Randal Maurice Jelks Cover Image
$63.12
ISBN: 9781469613918
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: University of North Carolina Press - February 1st, 2014

In this first full-length biography of Benjamin Mays (1894-1984), Randal Maurice Jelks chronicles the life of the man Martin Luther King Jr.


Faith and Struggle in the Lives of Four African Americans: Ethel Waters, Mary Lou Williams, Eldridge Cleaver, and Muhammad Ali By Randal Maurice Jelks Cover Image
$175.00
ISBN: 9781350074613
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - January 10th, 2019

In 1964, Muhammad Ali said of his decision to join the Nation of Islam: "I know where I'm going and I know the truth and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want to be.+?