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Mari Evans believes her responsibility as a writer is to speak the truth to her people and urge social progress through activism.

Selected Bibliography

  • A Dark and Splendid Mass. New York: Writers and Readers Publishers, Inc., 1992.

  • I Am A Black Woman. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1970.

  • I Look at Me. Chicago: Third World Press, 1974.

  • JD. New York: Avon Books, 1982.

  • Jim Flying High. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1979.

  • Nightstar, 1973-1978. Los Angeles: CAAS Publications, 1981.

  • Singing Black: Alternative Nursery Rhymes for Children. East Orange, NJ: Just Us Books, Inc., 1998.

Discussion Questions

1. Why does Evans feel that calling a dramatic work a "play" is diminishing it? How is that indicative of the philosophy she expresses in this interview?

2. How does she use the metaphor of the dance in describing race relations? In what way do the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles fit into this context?

3. In "Speak Truth to the People," she writes, "Fantasy enslaves." What do you think she means? Is it the obligation of the poet to "speak truth"? Why or why not?


Mari Evans, educator, writer, and musician, resides in Indianapolis. Formerly Distinguished Writer and Assistant Professor, African American and Resource Center, Cornell University, she has taught at Indiana University, St. Louis, the State University of New York at Albany, the University of Miami at Coral Gables and at Spelman College, Atlanta, over the past 20 years. She is the author of numerous articles, four children's books, several performed theater pieces, two musicals and four volumes of poetry, including I Am A Black Woman, Nightstar, and A Dark and Splendid Mass, published in 1992. She also edited the highly acclaimed Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation. Her work has been widely anthologized in collections and textbooks, and her poems have appeared in several languages including German, Swedish, French and Dutch. In 1998, she published Singing Black: Alternative Nursery Rhymes for Children. Her poetry is a superb distillation of the black idiom, capturing tones from the exquisitely humorous to the hauntingly poignant. It also reveals a skillful grasp of craft that shows to advantage the elegance and dignity that pervade her lines.


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