A Woman to Know: Alice Dunbar Nelson
|Julia Carpenter||Jan 20, 2017|
I sit and sew / a useless task it seems / My hands grown tired / My head weighed down with dreams. — Alice Dunbar Nelson
(image via Encyclopedia of Louisiana)
In the diaries she kept for all her life, Alice Dunbar Nelson recorded 60-plus years of experiences — about her life as a mixed-race woman, as wife to the famous poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (and a poet in her own right), as a woman who had affairs with other women, and as a documentarian of black experience in the late 19th century. Today, her essays, poems and short stories are taught in school. But it's her diaries — the near-obsessive recording of her thoughts and dreams about contemporary politics — that stand out as special.
Alice herself would have been astonished to hear that. Sometimes, she hated her diary. She wrote in it not from love but from some other force that compelled her. "[I] sit up until two o'clock writing up this damn diary — when I have so much else to do," she wrote.
Add to your library list:
Give Us Each Day: The Diary of Alice Dunbar Nelson (Alice Dunbar Nelson)
Laughing to Stop Myself Crying (Alice Dunbar Nelson)
The Goodness of St. Roque, and Other Stories (Alice Dunbar Nelson)
Black Nature: Five Centuries of African American Poetry (Camille T. Dungy)
Alice Dunbar Nelson: Violets and Other Tales (The New York Library)
She was hard to impress (The New York Times)
Alice Dunbar Nelson: On Producing Literature (Bookslut)
Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson (Poetry Foundation)
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