From the Heartland: Mari Evans

thMari Evans was born in Toledo in 1923. I first encountered her works while in college. I needed a poem and, there she was. Upon discovering that Evans shared my hometown, I tucked her in my memories. After all, who in the world is from Toledo??

Like me, most know Evans as a poet. Her poetry is accessible to almost grown to full grown.

 

Where Have You Gone by Mari Evans
Where have you gone
with your confident
 walk with 
your crooked smile
why did you leave 
me
when you took your 
laughter
and departed
are you aware that 
with you
 went the sun
all light
and what few stars 
there were?
where have you gone
with your confident 
walk
your 
crooked smile
the 
rent money 
in one pocket
and 
my heart 
in another . . .

And, her poetry is timeless

We have screamed
and we have filled our lungs
with revolutionary rhetoric
We sing
the sorrow songs and march
chest tight and elbows
locked
yes
We have learned to mourn
Our martyrs and our children
murdered by our Greater Love
and strewn
like waste before our pious disbelief
What tremors stay our heads?
The monster still contains us!
There is no better time no
Futuretime
      (from “The Time is Now”)

Evans often visited Indianapolis as a child and moved to the city in the late 1960s to serve as writer in residence at Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI). Shortly after her arrival, she became the writer, producer and director of the television show “The Black Experience”. Evans writes about her experiences in and with the city in her essay “Ethos and Creativity: The Impulse as Malleable” (1989).  She describes with vivid examples what it is to be Black in Indiana. She writes of an attitude I’ve heard people from outside Indiana try to explain.

“Many Black folk thought of Indianapolis as urban, “up South.” It was better than being “down South,” but it retained many of the negative propositions of the deep South, and was not yet as enlightened or “progressive” as its West or East Coast counterparts. Conservatism and racism were alive and compatible.

To our discredit there is, even today, an amazing retention of that early sensibility. It is expressed, however, with much more class, much more élan, and many Black folk are so enthralled by the smiles they do not read the eyes nor understand psychological “locking out.”

Not too enthralled though, to not be angry even then at police shootings of young black men and at economic racism.

As a prominent member of the Indianapolis Black arts community, her memories are of a thriving Indiana Avenue, then the heart of the city’s black community and she grieves the impact of the destruction of the surrounding area on the black community. Evans writes of few opportunities for black artists in the city and understands why many leave.

Evans also taught at Purdue, Washington University, Cornell and the State University of New York. Her poetry collections include Night Star, Where is the Music and I am a Black Woman. Her children’s books include Dear Corinne, Tell Somebody! Love, Annie, A Book About Secrets; Jim Flying High and J.D.+-+64527191_140

In 2006, Evans published her first YA novel, I’m Late: The Story of Lanesse and Moonlight and Alisha Who Didn’t Have Anyone of Her Own.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 1.46.51 PM

 

They need something to believe in
the young
a joy exploding an
ecstatic peace to hide them in
a strengthening

They must leap miles into the stratosphere
clicking heels
and a half gainor backwards
free fall
We have taken the gods of Big
Bethel Mount Pilgrim and
Blessed assurance and walked
just part of the Way
with Damballa
Go on and do it Jim, we said
Boogalooing in the other direction

They need something to believe in
the young
That is only part of the truth
They need a map and a guide
to the interior

If we have the Word let us
say it
If we have the Word let us
Be it
If we have the Word let us
DO
They need something to believe in

Indy: Mark your Calendar!!

Indianapolis Youth Literature Conference

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Indianapolis Marion County Public Library – Central Branch

It is time once again for the Indianapolis Youth Literature Conference for librarians, school media specialists and other adults who are interested in children’s and young adult literature. Scheduled speakers include Coretta Scott King award winners Brian Pinkney and Andrea Davis Pinkney and National Book award finalist Patricia McCormick. Many concurrent sessions will also be offered.  Library Education Units (LEUs) will be available for registered participants.

Please visit the website for schedules and registration information. Any questions can be directed to Carri Genovese at cluster@iupui.edu.

Space is limited, register now!

 

Indianapolis Teaching Fellows

While Indianapolis Public Schools currently has an accomplished group of professional educators, the need for additional teachers is always great. The Indianapolis Teaching Fellows is an aggressive campaign to recruit local and committed professionals, community members, and recent college graduates to become teachers, joining us in our efforts to close the achievement gap – so that our children may receive the education they deserve.

Indianapolis Teaching Fellows will receive intensive training in a pre-service institute during the summer of 2008.  This institute will prepare them to begin full-time teaching positions in critical shortage subject areas (math, science, Spanish and special education) for the 2008 school year.  While teaching, Fellows will attend Marian College to earn their teaching license.

Now in its second year of operation, this highly-selective alternate route to teaching program has already placed over 40 new teachers in classrooms across IPS. If you know of anyone who might be interested in this initiative, please direct them to the Indianapolis Teaching Fellows’ website for more information and the online application:
www.IndianapolisTeachingFellows.org.

Applications are being accepted now. A Bachelor’s degree is required to be considered eligible. No prior teaching experience is required. The priority application deadline is January 7, 2008.