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Backwoods & Bloodlines: The Novels of Jesmyn Ward

In a 2017 NPR interview, award-winning author Jesmyn Ward, who grew up in a tiny town Gulf Coast town in Mississippi, said, “There’s a feeling of belonging and of ease and of knowing who I am that I feel [there] that I don’t feel anywhere else. There’s this entire web of people I’m connected with...a way of understanding myself: who I am, and where I come from, and who I come from.”
Ward has taken her deep love and knowledge of this geographical region and woven it into the pages of her acclaimed Bois Sauvage trilogy of novels: Where the Line Bleeds; Salvage the Bones; and Sing, Unburied, Sing.
These books tell the stories of African American families whose lives are “pinioned beneath history, poverty, and racism,” according to Ward.
In this class, we will reflect on how the depictions of landscape, lineage, lifestyle, liminality, and love in their writing not only make it fresh and affecting, but also give readers insight into the lives of the families dispossessed by Hurricane Katrina and the legacy of Jim Crow during the sights. 

February 27 - Where the Line Bleeds (2008)

March 27 - Salvage the Bones (2011)
April 24 - Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017)


Instructor: Michelle R. Smith is a writer, blogger, educator, and cultural facilitator, living and working out of Twinsburg, Ohio. She is the author of the poetry collection Ariel in Black (Guide to Kulchur Press) and an upcoming chapbook tentatively titled The Real Jazz Wives of Twentieth Century America (Outlandish Press). She has been published in poemmemoirstory, Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, and The Normal School. She has been a featured reader and performer at The Lakewood Public Library, The Cleveland Museum of Arts, Cleveland Drafts – Brews + Prose, and Story Club Cleveland East Side. She has presented writing workshops at the East Cleveland Public Library and PNC Fairfax Connection. She is also the creator, producer, and director of BLAX MUSEUM, an annual performance showcase open to all forms and dedicated to honoring notable black figures in American history and culture.


Details: Backwoods & Bloodlines: The Novels of Jesmyn Ward is a three-session class which takes place the fourth Saturday of each month: Feb 27, Mar 27, & Apr 24 from 10am-12pm remotely through Zoom. Register and we will send along information about how to connect via Zoom.

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