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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Suzan-Lori Parks at Bryn Mawr College



Last night I went to Bryn Mawr College to hear the playwright and Pulitzer Prize Winner, Suzan-Lori Parks. She was the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. She received it for her play Topdog/Underdog. She is such an inspirational speaker that I left the auditorium that night thinking: I WANT TO WRITE.

As a poet myself, I found Ms. Parks to be very helpful, because she answered so many of my unanswered questions, in such little time. For example, she started out as a playwright, and her very first production took place at a gas station and three people came, but that night became the most important night of her life. That night she felt she had made it as a playwright. ( She told us later the three people who came to the play were her mom, her dad, and the homeless man in the neighborhood, which still did not phase her. She had an audience who saw her play.) That story taught me, you have to believe in yourself and love yourself if you want to succeed, which Ms. Parks exceptionally did, and now she is a Pulitzer Prize winner, a MacArthur Genius Award winner and a well-known writer.

Also, Ms. Parks told a story of how she found herself. She told the audience about her senior year in high school, when she took an AP English class. Every week her class would have a spelling test, and every week she would fail, because she was not very good speller. At the end of the year, her AP English teacher and she were having a conversation about college. Her teacher asked her what she wanted to major in, and she answered, “I want to major in English Literature, since I love to write”. Then her teacher opened up her grade book and read all of Ms. Parks' spelling test grades and answered, “I don’t think you should major in English, you should major in something you are good at”, and Ms. Parks listened. So, when she entered college ( Mt. Holyoke) she majored in Chemistry. She hated this subject and later switched to English, which was her passion, which led to her encounter with the great writer James Baldwin. This story made me realize you have to listen to yourself and go with your gut, because others can not make your decisions for you or feel your passion.

When Ms. Parks finally switched to English, she took a short story class with James Baldwin. During the class they would read stories out loud and of course Ms. Parks being the drama queen that she is, read her stories with so much enthusiasm, and even stood up from her seat to read them. When Mr. Baldwin could take it no longer, he asked her a simple question: “Have you ever considered the theater, Ms. Parks”? From that moment on, she knew she had found her place. I thought the lesson of this story was important because it shows that sometimes you have to “test the waters” to find out what you really want. She is a wonderful person, an inspirational and entertaining speaker and writer I look forward to reading.

Ms. Parks appeared at Bryn Mawr College as a part of its 2009-2010 Creative Writing Program Reading Series.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Diana:A Celebration at the National Constitution Center




Last Thursday afternoon, I had the awesome opportunity to be part of the press luncheon for the National Constitution Center’s new exhibition-Diana: A Celebration. In preparation for this event, I had a lot fun reading and learning about Princess Diana. What a personality? What a person? What an exhibition?

Diana: A Celebration will give visitors the opportunity to learn about Diana, Princess of Wales and her work, especially her humanitarian projects. The exhibition is so fun and inviting that those of my age, who probably know very little about Diana, will immediately be impressed by her accomplishments and commitments as well as by her fashion and jewelry.

Diana; A Celebration covers more than 10,000 square feet of more than 150 artifacts organized in nine categories which include Childhood, Spencer Women, Engagement, Royal Wedding, Tiara Gallery, Style and Fashion, Her Work, Tribute and Condolences.

Being my girly girl self, of course my favorite section was the one that featured her wedding gown. It has more than 10,000 tiny mother-of-pearl sequins and pearls. The wedding gown’s silk train is 25 feet and it is the longest in Royal History and it was made from six different fabrics. I have a lot of stories and fun facts to share about this gown and other more important things about Diana and this exhibition. I will blog about them in several posts.

The items in this exhibition are on loan from the Althorp Estate, the Spencer Family’s 500-year-old home in England. Before her marriage to Prince Charles, Diana was Diana Frances Spencer. Charles Spencer, her brother, representing the Althorp Estate, attended the press luncheon as well. One of the above photographs is of him and me. The photograph was taken by Carol Feeley.

The exhibition opened October 2nd and runs until December 31, 2009.

Here are the basic facts you need to get down to the National Constitution Center and see Diana: A Celebration. Admission is $23.00 for adults, $21.00 for seniors and $15.00 for children ages 4-12. Active military personnel and children ages 3 and under are free. Please visit the center’s website to learn about the special speakers, family activities and other events which are tied to this exhibition.

The National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street
Independence mall
Philadelphia, PA 19106
www.constitutioncenter.org
Ticket information/215-409-6700