"There’s a Haitian proverb that says Paròl gin zèl. Paròl gin pie. Words have wings. Words have feet. We never know how far our words will travel and where they will land, who they will comfort and who they might even save."
One of the landscapes I ended up photographing was Rowan Oak, which is the William Faulkner estate. And a woman of color, Caroline “Callie” Barr Clark, took care of Faulkner and his family for many generations and had a cabin back behind the estate. There was the big house and then her cabin. And I was permitted to have models and light and to go into her cabin and shoot and work all over the Faulkner property and kind of bring a new narrative, literally, to that story of Faulkner, Oxford, Ole Miss and all of that.
The father pulls the six-paneled heart pine door / open, leading her out by the arm, first lesson. / They wind behind the house, past the prayer trees.
Beyond the woods, back back of the shed, / into the hush hush air / where prayer and camp meeting / rose like jasmine vine, / back in the black code days.
Besides being a paramedic, a lot of what I bring to the table as a writer is my work as an organizer. As an organizer, one of the principles that we work with is the idea of history being present and walking with us always. And certainly in Brooklyn, you know, when you walk around history is with you at all times, whether it is with the actual memorial murals themselves, or you walk down one street named after a slave owner and another named after an abolitionist and then you’ll turn a corner and you’ll be on Malcolm X Boulevard. All of these layers are constantly there. Meanwhile gentrification is happening, police brutality is happening. It’s a crossroads. To me, ghost stories are always a way to deal with this concept of history being alive.
The Bradwicks’ elaborate Park Slope brownstone was bursting with teenagers when Sierra and Bennie got there. Just about every ninth, tenth, and eleventh grader from Octavia Butler High was running around the backyard or exploring the winding passageways of the house. The sound system alternately blared hip-hop and grungy emo rock as various DJs took turns pushing one another out of the way. Some kids stood in a little circle out back, beatboxing and freestyling, inventing brand-new ways of putting one another down and sending up wild cheers when each dig found its mark.