Guests today on The Bridge are Valerie Stephens and Helen Elaine Lee who travel into some of today’s most troubling issues and transform what they find into art.
First we’re going to hear from Valerie Stephens, who will talk with us about her one woman show, The Mammy Diaries, where she explores the reality, the myth, the caricature of the complex and multidimensional stereotype of Mammy, whose presence is still threaded through our society today. Valerie will perform The Mammy Diaries on October 4 at the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge. Go to www.multiculturalartscenter.org and click on events for more information. To learn more about Valerie and her work as a vocalist/bandleader, story teller, educator, and performance artist, visit her website at www.valeriestephens.com
Through her early career as a lawyer and currently as a novelist and educator, social justice has been a central part of her life from her childhood on. “Justice” she says, “is a fiction for some of us.”
She has written two novels from the points of view of those inside. She will discuss and read from Life Without on our 9/28 show on The Bridge, and we will hear about the second of these novels, The Hard Loss, in a later show. Check back on this blog for dates & details.
Helen says she had to “earn the stories” she tells, so she has spent many years as a volunteer in medium security prisons, teaching storytelling and creative writing. Listening to the voices and the stories of those inside, she was often struck by the “survival of dignity, generosity, and self interrogation” of her incarcerated students.
She is currently Associate Professor of Fiction Writing in MIT’s Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, and she is a member of the Board of Directors of PEN New England and directs its Prison Creative Writing Program
You can read three of the stories from Life Without online at:
“Alphabet,” in Prairie Schooner, http://prairieschooner.unl.edu/?q=alphabet
“Pomegranate,” in Solstice Literary Magazine, http://solsticelitmag.org/pomegranate/
“Back in the Day,” in Callaloo: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/callaloo/summary/v031/31.2.lee.html