Common Reads

June 4, 1-2 PM EST
Common Read Discussion of
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’s The Age of Phillis (2020)

From the publisher’s website: “In 1773, a young, African American woman named Phillis Wheatley published a book of poetry that challenged Western prejudices about African and female intellectual capabilities. Based on fifteen years of archival research, The Age of Phillis, by award-winning writer Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, imagines the life and times of Wheatley: her childhood in the Gambia, West Africa, her life with her white American owners, her friendship with Obour Tanner, and her marriage to the enigmatic John Peters. Woven throughout are poems about Wheatley’s “age”—the era that encompassed political, philosophical, and religious upheaval, as well as the transatlantic slave trade. For the first time in verse, Wheatley’s relationship to black people and their individual “mercies” is foregrounded, and here we see her as not simply a racial or literary symbol, but a human being who lived and loved while making her indelible mark on history.” Jeffers’s work is available from Bookshop.org.

June 4, 3:30-4:30 PM EST
Common Read Discussion of
Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Marys Seacole (2019)

Drury’s play can be purchased from Dramatists Play Service: “Born in 1805 Jamaica, Mary Seacole is determined to live an extraordinary life. As she travels across oceans and centuries, through a Jamaican hospital, a Crimean battlefront, a contemporary nursing home, and everywhere in between, Mary moves through life with Herculean fortitude. But as her brazen spirit meets historical reality, Mary’s world explodes, splitting, multiplying, and redefining her narrative. Based on the life of the famous nurse and entrepreneur, Marys Seacole is an examination of what it means to be a woman paid to care.”

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