Monday, March 3, 2014

Not Just Me and Annette

On the way to the airport, after my visit to the University of Maryland, my cab driver asked solicitously, "Are you taking anything for that cold?" I assured him that I was, and that I hoped it would kick in soon.

It didn't; I've been on the couch sick all weekend. Better now, but that's why I've been gone.

So I went to meet Annette Gordon-Reed, and it was fabulous.

Actually I went to participate in the Annette Gordon-Reed event, and so the very first thing I did was teach a creative writing class. The class is "Introduction to Creative Writing Through African-American Voices," (UMaryland has a fantastic selection of creative writing classes) and I was the only white girl in the room. I spoke about writing Jefferson's Sons, and how the topic influenced my approach to voice, narration (JS has three narrative characters), word choice, and characterization. I thought it went well; I hope it did.

Then I went to three separate Annette Gordon-Reed events: a lunch talk with history professors and grad students, a question-and-answer session with the ADVANCE faculty (this has something to do with women and minorities), and the main address, open to all. Then dinner with A G-R and a select few others, mostly deans, very late at night.

I knew I would like A G-R, and I did; I think tremendously highly of her intellect, scholarship, and grace. She spoke well all day long, even when fielding awkward questions from people who hadn't read her books. I loved listening to her, but, more than that, I loved spending the day in the company of so many bright, fierce, scholarly women, with their dangling earrings and untidy hair, strong opinions and pointed remarks. And their enthusiasm. How I loved their enthusiasm. One of the history professors, just a tad older than me, gave me a ride to dinner, and on the way outlined her research findings on the Stuart kings and their connection to the colonial slave trade, her words spilling out with the same eagerness I get when I'm talking about a topic I know well and love.

I don't get days like last Thursday very often. I had such a splendid time.