Festival of Women Writers 2017 Holiday Book Gift Guide

Celebrating five consecutive years of platforming women’s writing, The Hobart Festival of Women Writers has created a video guide to books by Festival authors.

video by Festival co-organizer, Breena Clarke

for more information about Hobart Festival of Women Writers, go to www.hobartfestivalofwomenwriters.com

for more about the Festival’s participating writers, go to www.hobartfestivalofwomenwriters.blog

about Breena Clarke, go to

www.BreenaClarke.com

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An Interview with Breena Clarke

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 Breena Clarke speaks to Write Angles, a one day writer’s conference in Eastern Massachusetts, November 18, 2017.

Breena Clarke is this year’s featured after-lunch speaker.  She was interviewed by Liz Bedell.

Why did you become a writer? When did the writing bug first bite you?

Firstly, No biting, especially not insects. I come naturally to writing I would say. I have always been inspired by books, since my very first trip to the public library. These buildings in my childhood in Washington, D.C. were pleasant places. I majored in theater, acting at Howard University and I wrote and directed and performed plays. So I’ve always felt like a writerly person. But the thing or series of events that made me into a committed, daily, working writer began with the early death of my son, Najeeb. Motivated to record all of his life that I could remember, I began keeping small notebooks capturing thoughts and observations. A friend said that writing is like a muscle. The more exercise it gets, the stronger it becomes. I suppose I exercised my writer’s imagination through these books that I still have and that have never actually served any purpose other than as personal writing. The important part is that I began a training regimen for my mind. I consumed the good books written by others and launched into my own inquiries. I set aside time for writing, for developing an idea.

What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?

Non seriously, but with humor at self: Reading what you’ve written a few days earlier that reads well and you think, “Hey, this girl is good, who is she?”

Seriously, but not wanting to sound self-satisfied: When someone comes up to you and tells you how moved they were when they read your work or heard you read. This is the moment of greatest satisfaction for me. It comes right before the “hey, who is this girl?” moment.

And the most frustrating part of being a writer?

I don’t know that yet. I haven’t gotten there yet. My mind is still sharp, and my energy is good, so I feel productive as a writer. Productivity relieves writerly frustration for me.

Can you tell us about your most recent novel? What inspired it?

I was inspired to write ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE by an interest in imagining the lives and community of people living outside the strictures imposed by racist white America. It’s set in mid-19th century New Jersey. Loosely based on the so-called Ramapo Mountain people, who were said to have been a tri-racial maroon community in the mid-Atlantic region, the people of Russell’s Knob privilege no color above another. And though they are insular, they welcome those who escape from oppression in the white towns. I enjoyed speculating on this somewhat utopian vision of racial amalgamation rather than separation. The novel has at its climax the horrible events of the New York City Draft Riots (July 13-16, 1863).

For more of this interview, go to https://writeanglesconference.com

For further discussion of ANGELS MAKE THIER HOPE HERE, listen to Breena Clarke’s podcast interview with Tim Knox for  Placing Literature

 

visit www.BreenaClarke.com

River, Cross My Heart   Stand The Storm      Clarke-AngelsMakeTheirHope

 

 

 

A Sunday Reading for February

Breena Clarke reads a searing excerpt from her novel, STAND THE STORM, set in mid-19th century Washington, D.C.

The complete, unabridged audiobook version of STAND THE STORM is available on Audible.com at stand the storm by breena clarke, audiobook

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Written By: Breena Clarke

Narrated By: Richard Allen

Publisher: Tantor Media

Date: October 2008

Duration: 10 hours 28 minutes

for more information about Breena Clarke’s books, go to www.BreenaClarke.com

 

Since when is new?

“New York! New Amsterdam! Act! Grandmother spit when she say it. She say ‘since when is new?’ Grandmother’s spittle runs into our creeks. It sustains us. We won’t die of thirst in these hills.Our Grandmother sleeps there up ahead. She is taking her well-earned nap. Her lips fall back. Spittle runs our of the side of her mouth while she sleeps. The hills, the outcropping, the ridges, these are her misshapen teeth. Them sharp juts are what remain when flesh pulls back from bone.”  from ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE

Angels Make Their Hope Here     Dossie Smoot

Since when is new, I ask. I write historical fiction primarily from an urge to re-tell the past, rehabilitate the skimpy, fractured, fragmented narratives of the people of The Americas, the so-called New World. I believe that much of the national narrative of The United States is based on limited facts, racially motivated lies and the visceral belief that all people are NOT created equally. .Sometimes it feels like I have a score to settle. I think I must be a caretaker of imagination so that our race of people are not unimagined and thus disappear from the earth. I feel I need to be  like Scheherazade. I survive daily because I’m able to continue to tell stories of myself/OURSELVES. 

                                 Breena Clarke

read an excerpt of ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE  http://bit.ly/2kUtZZ4

visit Breena’s website: www.BreenaClarke.com

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Breena Clarke’s books

 

The Beautiful Necessaries: Quilts in 19th Century African American life.

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“Control of the finished product becomes a metaphor for self-emancipation.”                                                                                                                                             Breena  Clarke

Through the lens of her brilliantly engaging novel, STAND THE STORM, Breena Clarke talks about textiles, quilting and enslavement.

View one of Harriet Powers’ stunning quilts:

http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/pictorial-quilt-116166

more about Harriet Powers – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Powers

Discussing the African American experience in 19th Century Washington, D.C. Breena Clarke shares insights about the characters of STAND THE STORM.

Read an excerpt of STAND THE STORMhttp://bit.ly/2kNABZR

for more information about the novels of Breena Clarke, visit: www.BreenaClarke.com

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Breena Clarke’s books

 

 

February (Feb-roo-airy) has 28 Days

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Dr. Carter G. Woodson

February is the month designated to honor and celebrate the achievements and culture of African Americans in the United States. Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), www.blackpast.org/aah/woodson-carter an African American historian, author, journalist and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. launched the celebration of “Negro History Week” in February 1926; it was the precursor of Black History Month.

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Novelist, Breena Clarke celebrates the history of African peoples in the Americas in three critically acclaimed novels. Add these to your “GotToRead” list for February 2017.

IMG_0598    Eight-year-old Clara Bynum is dead, drowned in the Potomac River in the shadow of an apparently haunted rock outcropping known locally as the Three Sisters. In scenes alive with emotional truth, River, Cross My Heart weighs the effect of Clara’s absence on the people she has left behind: her parents, Alice and Willie Bynum, torn between the old world of their rural North Carolina home and the new world of the city, to which they have moved in search of a better life for themselves and their children; the friends and relatives of the Bynum family in the Georgetown neighborhood they now call home; and, most especially, Clara’s sister, twelve-year-old Johnnie Mae, who must come to terms with the powerful and confused emotions sparked by her sister’s death as she struggles to decide and discover the kind of woman she will become. Read an excerpt here:  http://bit.ly/2kP20hF

IMG_0599   Even though Sewing Annie Coats and her son, Gabriel, have managed to buy their freedom, their lives are still marked by constant struggle and sacrifice. Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood, where the Coatses operate a tailor’s shop and laundry, is supposed to be a “promised land” for former slaves but is effectively a frontier town, gritty and dangerous, with no laws protecting black people.The remarkable emotional energy with which the Coatses wage their daily battles-as they negotiate with their former owner, as they assist escaped slaves en route to freedom, as they prepare for the encroaching war, and as they strive to love each other enough-is what propels Stand the Storm. Read an excerpt here: http://bit.ly/2kNABZR

Clarke-AngelsMakeTheirHope   ANGELS MAKE THEIR HOPE HERE is set in an imagined community in a mountainous area roughly north and west of Paterson, New Jersey in the 19th century. Russell’s Knob is a hidden, secretive place settled by people who might be described today as bi-racial or tri-racial. The inhabitants describe themselves as runaways and stay-aways. They are people who reject the limiting definitions of racial identity and character of 19th century, mid-Atlantic, North America and live outside of the “white” towns. They are spoken of derisively as “amalgamators” and “race mixers” though their true history is as complex as is the history of settlement in the region. Read an excerpt here: http://bit.ly/1NZsFus

Visit Breena’s website at: www.BreenaClarke.com

https://www.facebook.com/angelsmaketheirhopehere on Facebook

Breena_Clarke onTwitter