Author Octavia E. Butler is known for blending science fiction with African-American spiritualism.
A multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, Butler was one of the best-known women in the field.
In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, nicknamed the “Genius Grant"
Before dystopian fiction like "The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” reflected an increasingly diverse society, there was Octavia E. Butler, one of few African-American authors to become a prominent name in the white-dominated universe of science fiction with a career that included publishing the Patternmaster series, the Xenogenesis Trilogy, the celebrated historical fantasy Kindred, and the highly praised dystopian saga The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents, among other works.Her work helped define the literary cornerstone of Afrofuturism, then an emerging movement that draws from science fiction and fantasy with a socially conscious bend.
Octavia Estelle Butler was a leading light of the science fiction world, black, a woman, a lesbian.
To date, she is the only science fiction writer to receive one of the genius grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
By the time she died of a stroke at age 58 in 2006, Butler had amassed international acclaim among fans of speculative fiction, a combination of science fiction, fantasy and horror.
She feared being loved, being needed. She was terrified to feel the same. She feared what she most desperately wanted, a refuge in a person other than herself; a passion that wouldn’t end in pain… because that would mean that someone thought she was worth it. Worth loving, worth needing, worth wanting, and she could never quite accept that.
Your name was such exquisite poetry
I etched it into my mind
It flowed throughout my veins, whispering in my ear drums and dropping to my toes
It came spewing out of my lips and the tips of my fingers as I strummed
It was calling, reaching for my eyes in order to truly envision its glory
But it dropped its gaze once it could see
For it could not claim the depth of heart that stood before and within it
The marked etchings were forced to fade
A name, no longer written
She was a writer, poet, journalist, teacher, famous women’s rights activist. Co-authoring and publishing many works that offered insight into the black experience, despite her being robbed of credit and/or payment for her efforts.
Though, during the Harlem Renaissance, she became a prominent literary figure, works like “Hysteria” & “As in a Looking Glass” gave notice to her name. Interestingly, Nelson allegedly separated from her first husband, poet Paul Dunbar, in 1902 because he was “disturbed” by her lesbian affairs.
In 1984, her diary was published and as one of only two journals of the 19th century African American women. Her diary provided useful insight into the lives of black women during this time. For that reason her legacy will forever live on and be read in the classrooms of many students.
When I was young and knew Virginia Woolf slightly, I learned something that startled me - that a person may be ultrasensitive and not warm. She was intensely curious and plied one with questions, teasing, charming questions that made the young person glow at being even for a moment the object of her attention. But I did feel at times as though I were “a specimen American young poet” to be absorbed and filed away in the novelist’s store of vicarious experience. Then one had also the daring sense that anything could be said, the sense of freedom that was surely one of the keys to the Bloomsbury ethos, a shared secret amusement at human folly or pretensions. She was immensely kind to have seen me for at least one tea, as she did for some years whenever I was in England, but in all that time I never felt warmth, and this was startling.
May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude, 1973
I am fascinated by this passage, not only for the interesting outsider’s look on Virginia Woolf, but because of this idea of being a woman who is engaged, charming, and curious, and yet not warm. Perhaps because it’s a balance I’m trying to find in my professional life: engaged, encouraging, but not maternal toward my students. I’m not sure that I’ve achieved it yet; perhaps I need to channel more Woolf.
Most famous for authoring The Color Purple, she is an African-American
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, short-story writer, poet, essayist, activist and current Professor Emeritus at Princeton University.
During the 90s she was romantically linked to singer Tracy Chapman.
When she is upset or sad, don’t try to jump and “fix” it. Be there, listen to her, validate her feelings, accept her mood unconditionally, and let her know that it’s perfectly normal to have these moments.
They told me to trust Nobody ‘cause life is Black&white and my Path is already Decided by forces I can’t control having A woman’s body Although my mind Has no gender they Tried to put me into A pink box defined as “girl’s faith” thinking That I’ll live the way They brainwash women To be and do telling Me to marry a man That will take care of Me, well screw it 'cause I trust those who fuck These sick norms and I’m fearlessly riding the Black bike having by my Side someone with a Wild soul who takes care Of me and happens to be A woman so screw you 'Cause my life is not to be Packed in your little Pink&blue boxes
She told me to look on My right where a beautiful Shadow was formed by The light of morning sun That woke me up in her Bed under warm white Sheets where she made Love to me as if there was No space between our Souls that meet in the dawn Of surrounded fears