Sunday, June 20, 2010
A Hidden Gem: Dael Orlandersmith
Yellowman (2002), which is written by actress/writer Dael Orlandersmith. The play was nominated for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, which was the same year that Suzan-Lori Parks became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in Drama for Topdog/Underdog (2001). Before picking up the book at the library, I had never of Orlandersmith. Ever. I was browsing through the book aisle and saw a thin yellow spine that read, "Yellowman." Interesting title, I thought. Then, I became even more interested when I saw the photograph of the playwright: a Black woman sporting braids. I find myself being drawn to Black female writers because I feel they understand me. It's like, finally, I see myself on those pages...but I digress. I first picked up Yellowman in 2008. Interestingly, I didn't read the play when I first checked it out from the library (I have that habit; I checkout a bunch of books, and read only a few). Last month, I checked out the book again. This time I read it, and I loved it. It was a fast read. It almost went too fast, but I enjoyed reading every bit of it. I love the language in Orlandersmith's play--it's poetic and lyrical. I could feel the heat of South Carolina. I could feel the humidity cloak my body and the dust fall on my skin like rain drops. Orlandersmith's writing and content reminds me of Alice Walker. The richness. The beauty. The womanness. It's so awesome when you discover a writer that interests you and pulls you in. It's like meeting someone who captivates you. You're under his spell. Finding a writer that intellectually stimulates you is like finding a needle in a haystack: hard! Because I liked Yellowman so much, I am now reading Beauty's Daughter; Monster; The Gimmick: Three Plays (2002). Hopefully, those plays are as good as Yellowman. I'll let you know if I liked them. By the way, are there any writers that you have discovered recently?