Thursday, July 16, 2015

Happy Birthday Mari Evans

I first met Mari Evans in the pages of Negro Digest/Black World magazine, published by the Johnson Publishing Company. An aspiring poet myself, I couldn't wait to find another Mari poem to read, to inspire me and to help me further understand myself and the world in which I was trying to find meaning and direction. I wanted so desperately to meet Mari, to get to know her and learn from her through conversations. But I was way south in Louisiana, miles from Johnson Publishing in Chicago and Mari’s hometown of Indianapolis.

I finally met Mari in person in the early 1990s. Cheryl and I attended an African-American Curriculum Infusion conference held in Atlanta that the late brother Asa Hillard helped to organize. Mari did a workshop there. Cheryl and I connected with Mari immediately. We are now very good friends. We have published four of Mari's books, including the soon to be released Continuum: New And Selected Poems, Revised Edition. The three of us chat as often as we can.

Just yesterday, during a telephone conversation, I reminded Mari how she had influenced me during my maturing years. I could sense her smile. Then I told her that I will call her on her birthday. She said, "That's fine. But please don't sing." Fighting through my laughter, I said, "No, I won't sing. I'll just call to say I love you." 

- Wade Hudson

Profile of Mari Evans taken from Poetry from the Masters: The Black Arts Movement, copyright 2009, Just Us Books. All rights reserved.

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