The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker

ISBN : 9780195341232

Maryemma Graham
680 ページ
156 x 235 mm

This first biography of poet and writer Margaret Walker (1915-98) offers a comprehensive close reading of a pillar in American culture for a majority of the 20th century. Without defining herself as a radical or even a feminist, Walker followed the precepts of both. She promoted the idea of the artist of tradition and social change, a public intellectual and an institution builder. Among the first to recognize the impact of black women in literature, Walker became a chief architect of what many have called the new Black South Renaissance. Her art was influenced early by Langston Hughes, her political understanding of the world by Richard Wright. Walker expanded both into a comprehensive view on art and humanism, which became a national platform for the center she founded in Mississippi that now bears her name. The House Where My Soul Lives provides a full account of Walker's life and new interpretations of her writings before and after the publication of her most well-known poem in the 1930s in Chicago. The book rejects the widely held view of Walker as the "angry black woman" and emphasizes what contemporary American culture owes to her decades of foundational work in what we know today as Black Studies, Women's Studies, and the Public Humanities. She was fierce in her claim to be "black, female and free" which gave her the authority to challenge all hierarchies, no matter at what cost. Featuring 80 archival photos and documents and based on never before examined personal papers and interviews with those who knew Walker personally, this book is required reading for all readers of biographies of American writers.


An Introduction to Margaret Walker: The Woman We Thought We Knew
Part I: Southern Song, 1915-1932 (Birmingham and New Orleans)
1. In this place where I was born
2. A preacher's daughter
3. The fire burning within
4. Get her out of the South
5. Goodbye New Orleans
Part II: Growing Out of Shadow, 1933-1938 (Chicago)
6.The house where my soul lives
7. Brave new world
8. Colleagues and Comrades: South Side Writers
9. Marriage is a green apple
10. The Author of For My People
Part III: No Enemies Save Myself 1938-1943 (Iowa, New Orleans, New York)
11. Dear Dick
12. As low down as the blues let you be
13. Time is a might healer
14. A year of new beginnings
15. October journey
Part IV: Good Times in Difficult Years 1944-1963 (NC
Jackson, MS)
16. Find somebody to love
17. Every child is a book I didn't write
18. The walls of my prison house
19. All my roots are gathered in one place
20. Turn loose and sink or swim
Part V: A Not So Quiet Radical, 1964-1975 (Iowa and Jackson, MS)
21. Jubilee: a community of memory
22. A woman of ideas
23. To teach, to lead, to learn to change the world
24. Midwife to a Movement
Part VI: Unholy Wars 1976-1986 (Mississippi)
25. On Being Female, Black and Free
26. Fame and infamy
27. Making peace with my soul: A Daemonic Genius
28. The outlaw spirit prevails
Part VII: This Is My Century 1987-1998 (Mississippi)
29. Politics and possibilities
30. Reaping the whirlwind
31. Call Me Cassandra


Maryemma Graham is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Kansas.