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On the Path: Life Just Opens Up A Keeping of Records: Alice Walker

A Snapshot from my Journal, Saturday, July 18, 2009

In search of other critical voices to support my essay on Chinua Achebe’s poem, Refugee Mother and Her Child, I journeyed to the Emory University Woodruff Library in Atlanta, Georgia. After browsing their database and recording some prospective resources, I was directed by a librarian to go through the gallery to the elevators which would take me to the stacks that housed the resources.

Gloria Lawson Sylvester

As I turned to begin the walk through the corridor, my attention was immediately drawn to the far end of the gallery where a huge poster photograph of Alice Walker, the poet, author, playwright, and activist, was mounted to the wall. I stared into her striking eyes as I began to feel mesmerized walking the corridor. The last time I was in this gallery July 2008., Chester Higgins, photojournalist for the New York Times, exhibited his photographic essay of works from several locations in Africa; and to my unexpected pleasant surprise, noting the “gray in my hair,” he invited me to a photoshoot the following morning to model for his photographic essay titled ‘Silver Foxes.’ My first time in the gallery September 2000, I was privileged to act as a docent for the Linus Pauling Exhibit sponsored by a Buddhist organization.

Just before entering the gallery, I was taken aback with breathlessness as the energy around me changed as if entering a holy place. I noticed on the walls of the corridor a chronicle of quotes and photographs related to the Alice Walker exhibit. I wanted to take the time to write down these profound and inspirational thoughts. I subtly chose to put off looking for the elevators and instead became magnetized by the display cases filled with artifacts, handwritten pages dated over several decades inside of the cases, on top of cases, some enlarged and flushed against walls, photos of her with well- knowns, unknowns, personal letters, poetry, and a sundry of items from her life story and journey. I walked and read and gasped in awe. As I neared the end of this exhibit curated by the late Rudolph P. Byrd, Emory Professor of African American Studies, I felt the spirit of inspiration beckoning me to record the enthusiasm I felt. Pen and spiral notebook in hand, we wrote:

I wonder if I can be an Alice Walker

am I to be?

is that the authenticity of me?

to be this great among the greats

to share my inner story

the light of my journey

illumined or wavering

I wonder am I to be

what I feel inside of me

as I walk around

this Schatten Gallery

not knowing Alice was on display

her private life wide open

for everyone

to see, read, know.

I search for the Alice Walker in me

is she here?



-Gloria Lawson Sylvester

“I am my ancestors and a Sacred African Woman Elder appreciating my value and service to the global community. The expression of my worth comes through the arts of poetry, visual art, music, and professional speaking.”

Profile: An author, poet, professional speaker, workshop presenter, and appointed Poet Laureate of the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel in 2000, Gloria published her first book of poetry, Prelude A Demonstration of Life (2000) and College Planning and Funding Handbook (1994), acted as Poet-in-Residence in private and public schools (including special education students) teaching character development principles through her personal project, Self-Empowerment Through Poetry. Gloria will be publishing two books of poetry in 2018, including one for children.

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