Kathleen Collins: Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary

We did it guys! After three weeks of continuous rescheduling, we finally had our first book club meeting!

[And today is the 1st of July. Where has the time gone? Next thing you know it’ll be Christmas!]

But let me tell you…this book wasn’t a hit.

I’m always going to be honest with you because I value the time you spend with me here. This was a difficult read for me. It took almost two months of stop-and-go reading to get through this. There were pieces I enjoyed, but first let me tell you what the book club ladies thought.

In general, there was a lot of confusion about what was happening in the short stories at the beginning of the book. So much so that most of the ladies (and there were only four of us) didn’t finish the book.

The consensus was that reading the pieces in Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary reminded them too much of trauma and hardships they’d already experienced, and none of the characters seemed happy in the least.

Many people don’t like reading literature that reminds them of their lives. Instead, they want to escape from their stresses and be transported to worlds and lifestyles that are very much different from their own. It’s fair.

For me, it wasn’t so much reliving trauma, it was just that my attention wasn’t drawn in by most of the pieces.

I was into the short stories, though “Raschida” left so many questions…particularly about the farting. I couldn’t get into the novel excerpt “Lollie” at all, even after going back to read it again. The journal entries prompted a lot of questions about my own journaling habits, and one of the entries even prompted an interesting book club discussion about interracial relationships. “Remembrance” was the one play I really liked, especially this quote

“Colored people remember something from somewhere, sometime, someplace, and cry because they know it and recognize it at the same time.” (p.143)

which also prompted a good discussion with the ladies. I did like the screenplays the most out of all the pieces in the book, and I would like to watch Losing Ground at some point.

Overall this one was tough.

Our next book club meeting will be to discuss The Handmaid’s Tale. Since I’ve already read this one, I’m going to wait until the week before our meeting and borrow it from my local Library for a quick refresh.

In the meantime, I’ll be reading Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements. It’s an anthology of science and speculative fiction, and it’s parallel to my favorite author, so I’m really excited to read it.

Well there it is folks, the review I’ve been promising for a month [smacks forehead emoji]. I’ll let you know how it goes with Octavia’s Brood.

Happy Reading!


Reading Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Happy Monday all!

Answer me this: what is your favorite genre to read?

I asked myself this question the other day, and I couldn’t really answer it definitively. I really enjoy Science Fiction, but I mostly just like reading multicultural literature regardless of the specific genre.

This started in college. All throughout middle school and high school my reading habits were very…umm…pale? mainstream? Let’s be real here. My reading habits were very White for a large portion of my childhood and teenage years. Access to minority books wasn’t nearly as great as it is now, and I read what was available to me. But that’s not to say I felt deprived, or that it was a bad thing. It wasn’t.

I loved to read, I still love to read, and if what I picked up looked like a good book I didn’t care about the race of the author. It wasn’t until college, however, that I was exposed to a broad range of multicultural literature. It broadened my scope and led me to my favorite author—Octavia Butler.

I still read a lot of books by non-minority writers, but this year I wanted my entire reading list to consist of books by Black authors, preferably Black female authors, and so far I have really enjoyed the perspectives in what’s I’ve been reading. Maybe next year I’ll read only Latino authors, or only Graphic Novels, or only Memoirs. The possibilities….

Have you decided on your favorite genre yet? What was the last piece of writing you read that was in a genre other than your favorite? Did you like it?

Now, I can’t say I’ll ever be into Westerns, and I certainly don’t do Horror, but reading outside of my comfort zone has extended my love for reading beyond most boundaries. Just like I will watch almost any movie (including really bad, cheaply made movies that my cousins will hate), I will read almost anything as long as it looks and sounds interesting. Of course, if I hate it, I hate it, and if it’s really bad I won’t finish it, but that rarely happens.

I want to challenge you this week to pick up something outside of your reading comfort zone and give it a go. Who knows, you may find something entirely fantastic.

Happy Reading!


Books: Anthologies Pt. 5

We’re nearing the end of the anthologies! As much as I enjoy these large collections of stories by various authors, I’m ready to talk about some individual titles. This post will cover the Caribbean and Latino anthologies I have, then all we have left is Shakespeare and two small student publications I picked up during my time at the University of Central Florida (UCF). Although I have two Shakespeare anthologies, they contain the same content so it shouldn’t be too bad (I actually enjoy a lot of his work).

To begin, let’s get into The Routledge Reader in Caribbean Literature—a small-ish anthology at around 507 pages (before the Bibliography). It’s organized into six sections based on year, and each section is further separated into Poetry and prose, and Non-fiction works. There is a general introduction to the anthology as a whole as well as introductions to each section that give brief histories on the authors and works being presented.

1900-29 includes works by:
Tropica (Mary Adella Wolcott), Tom Redcam (Thomas Macdermot), J.E.C. McFarlane, Albinia Hutton, H.S. Bunbury, Astley Clerk, P.M. Sherlock, Eva Nicholas, Clara Maude Garrett, H.D. Carberry, Claude McKay, H.G. De Lisser, A.R.F. Webber, C.L.R. James, Leo Oakley, Harvey Clarke, Edward Baugh, and Amy J. Garvey

1930-49 includes works by:
Una Marson, George Campbell, Louise Bennett, Roger Mais, Vera Bell, A.J. Seymour, The Mighty Chalkdust, The Mighty Sparrow, Albert Gomes, The Beacon Editorials, Victor Stafford Reid,  Alison Donnell (one of the anthology’s editors), Mervyn Morris, Gordon Rohlehr

1950-65 includes works by:
Martin Carter, Elma Napier, Samuel Selvon, Jean Rys, Karl Sealy, Henry Swanzy, George Lamming, Sarah Lawson Welsh (one of the anthology’s editors), Reinhard Sander & Ian Munro, Evelyn O’Callaghan

1966-1979 (don’t know why the number formatting changes from here) includes works by:
Dennis Scott, Anthony McNeill, Christine Craig, Mahadai Das, Rajkumari Singh, Sylvia Wynter, Gerald Moore, Kamau Brathwaite, Derek Walcott, James Berry

1980-1989 includes works by:
Linton Kwesi Johnson, Mikey Smith, Jane King, Grace Nichols, Lorna Goodison, Jamaica Kincaid (one of my favorites), Harry Narain, David Dabydeen, Ramabai Espinet, Denise Decaires Narain

The 1990s includes works by:
Jean Binta Breeze, Benjamin Zephaniah, Mutabaruka, Lawrence Scott, Carolyn Cooper, Merle Hodge, John Vidal, Derek Walcott

(Just as a note, I have omitted repeat authors in many of the sections.)

There is a good variety of content in this anthology, and you won’t be disappointed if you decide to pick it up. However, I’m biased and I would say that about any of my anthologies. 😉


I took two Latino/a Literature courses during my undergrad program—[Into. to] Latino Literature and Hispanic Women Writers. The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature was acquired during the first of the two (the HWW course called mostly for individual books by specific writers, to be discussed at a later date).This is a large anthology. It begins like most with “Contents”, but also has an Alternate Table of Contents. Contents is arranged by time period, whereas the Alternate Table of Contents is arranged by region.

Here’s a brief picture of what that looks like:

Colonization: 1537-1810
Annexations: 1811-1898
Frontier Memoirs
Southwestern Newspaper Poetry
The Chacón Family
Acculturation: 1899-1945
Upheaval: 1946-1979
The Nuyorican Poets
San Antonio Women Poets
Puerto Rican Young Lords
Into the Mainstream: 1980-Present
Writers of Latinidad
Popular Dimensions
Dichos [manifestations of popular wisdom]
Chistes [jokes]
Cartoonistas [comic strips]
Teatro Popular [theater]
Cuentos and Leyendas [folktales and legends]
Canciones [songs]
Appendix 1: Chronology—Literature and History
Appendix 2: Treaties, Acts, and Propositions
Appendix 3: Influential Essays by Latin American Writers

Alternate Table of Contents
Cuba (3rd highest number of works)
Popular Dimensions
Dominican Republic
Mexico (highest number of works)
Popular Dimensions
Puerto Rico (2nd after Mexico)
Popular Dimensions

Now that you have an idea of how this anthology is organized, let’s talk about some of my favorite authors in this collection. There are very few authors whose entire bibliography I enjoy. Many authors are hit or miss in my eyes, even the ones I really like (except Octavia Butler, I LOVE her stuff…all of it). I was exposed to the authors below in my Hispanic Women Writers course (one of the authors below actually taught said course), along with many others, and these are still among my favorites. The works included can be found in a variety of locations besides this anthology, and I’d suggest looking to see if any of them are available for free online.

I’ll list my favorites and their works that are included in The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature:

Nicholasa Mohr (Upheaval/Puerto Rico)
May, 1945
The Wrong Lunch Line: Early Spring 1946
Aunt Rosana’s Rocker (Zoraida)
A Journey toward a Common Ground: The Struggle and Identity of Hispanics in the U.S.A.

Rosario Ferré (Upheaval/Puerto Rico)
The House on the Lagoon (one of my favorites)
Thanksgiving Day, 1936
Writing in Between

Isabel Allende (Into the Mainstream/Chile)
From Part 1: December 1991 to May 1992

Julia Alvarez (Into the Mainstream/ Dominican Republic)
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
Daughter of Invention
Entre Lucas y Juan Mejía
Bilingual Sestina
The Sisters

Pat Mora (Into the Mainstream/Mexico)
A Child, a Child
La dulcería
Coatlicue’s Rules: Advice from an Aztec Goddess
Manliche’s Tips: Pique from Mexico’s Mother
Consejos de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe: Counsel from the Brown Virgin

Judith Ortiz Cofer (Into the Mainstream/Puerto Rico)
The Story of My Body
The Latin Deli: An Arts Poetica
The Chameleon
Hostages to Fortune

Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés (Into the Mainstream/Cuba)
Muchacha (After Jamaica)
**I love her most because she was my favorite professor at UCF. She’s an awesome woman, writer, teacher, mentor, etc., etc. I can’t speak highly enough of her.**

Another Latino author that I really like is James Cañon. He isn’t included in this anthology, but I have his book Tales from the Town of Widows, and we will definitely get to that later on when I start talking about individual books in my collection.

In my next post I’ll briefly talk about the Shakespeare anthologies I have, and then we’ll only have one more part to this series on anthologies. Hang in there, we’re almost through. 🙂

As always, if you have any questions you can contact me here.

Happy Reading!