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In Praise of Toni Cade Bambara

Alice Lovelace
Atlanta, Georgia


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Toni Cade Bambara, 56, a noted writer, editor and teacher, died of cancer at a hospital in Philadelphia. Toni left behind a legacy in her own work which includes short stories collected in Gorilla My Love, and The Sea Birds Are Still Alive and her novel, The Salt Eaters. She edited several anthologies of black writers and introduced their work to thousands of college students.

Toni's greatest gift to Atlanta was the time spent cultivating and nourishing new and emerging writers throughout Atlanta and Georgia. Between the famous potluck gatherings at her home and her work organizing writers and artists she made a great impact on the Atlanta arts community.

Thanks to Toni Cade Bambara, the Southern Collective of African American Writers was born and First World Writers was later birthed. Thanks to Toni Cade Bambara, writers from throughout this region, and especially African-American writers, are connected. Thanks to her role in the major 1984 Conference on Black Literature and Arts at Emory University, she continues to influence the focus of Southern literarature. Thanks to her capacity to share of herself and her knowledge, she has many sprouts and branches. I remember sitting around her kitchen waiting for the next spinach quiche to bake and listening to her stories. She taught us about the social responsibility of the artist.

Call her name daily and know that she lives.

Praise To the Writer

The world is broken, who will mend it
The world is split, who will sew it

To Toni Cade Bambara,
She who bends so as not to break
Always taking up the slack.
To you, I offer greetings.
I Salute the trinity of your being.
I lay my life at your feet, Sister
My tongue at your service
Howl, Sun
Weep, Moon
Earthly waters, overflow

The world is broken, who will mend it
The world is split, who will sew it

Reborn through the blood
Toni Cade has arrived
She attended at the act of creation
Our world was not too heavy for her to lift
The light of her wisdom was a beacon
Toni Cade made an art of living
Toni stood and we were lifted
Toni spoke and our lives were saved
Toni listened and we were validated
She is the breast that fed our union
Hers' was the womb of our nourishment

The world is broken
Toni will mend it
The world is split
Toni will sew it


Re-published in In Motion Magazine February 20, 2000


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