Gratitude for Toni Morrison

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It was her sentence structure that amazed me more than anything. Each sentence fit into the story so perfectly and each one seemed to have equal importance. She was so measured in her approach. She never caught the holy ghost, as writers tend to do, and carried on about a singular topic while neglecting others. Her passion was always evenly distributed throughout her work and she always used a high level of characterization with each character that she created.

As an artist, my literary heroes impress me in different ways based on their style. From Hurston and Dunbar I always appreciated their skill at writing black dialect. From Baldwin I marveled at his strength of translating the experience of African-Americans into beautiful but still very confrontational intellectualism. And from Toni Morrison I learned patience. From her I learned consistency. From Toni I learned the confidence to slow down and trust that your audience will slow down with you. I learned to believe in the fact that your readers actually want to believe in you as a storyteller. Toni Morrison made blackness the default in all of her books. She made white readers feel their otherness without even trying. She carried her blackness with such an awesome regality that it was infectious.

And I will miss her the same way that I miss my father, my friend Sean Scott, my friend Ronnie Kidd, and my grandmother. The same way I miss all of my ancestors who I have never met but I still ask them questions every day. I will cherish her words until the day that I die and I will continue to walk down the road that she cleared for black writers. I love you Toni. Rest in eternal peace.

-Roger Porter

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