Magnolia Leaves by Mary Weston Fordham

It has been a difficult week all around: eruptions of racist violence everywhere, and now a racist President of the US saying “start shooting” at Black protesters. Doesn’t he know that the shooting, the killing, started a long, long, time ago now, and never seems to stop? Or that Black lives are more valuable than a Target store? (Those are obviously rhetorical questions.)

This week, we’re making copies of Mary Weston Fordham’s Magnolia Leaves, a collection of her poems first published in 1897, with an introduction by Booker T.  Washington. We’re making a change in our donation strategy for this book: instead of donating the profit to an organization like Carnegie Community Action Project, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, PACE or any of the others we’re giving to with this project, we’re going to take any money left over after production costs (ink, toner. paper) and shipping and donate it to Black Lives Matter Vancouver, in solidarity with Black people who have not only lived with the police killing of George Floyd, but also with the weight of centuries of violence, abuse, and erasure.

Very little knowledge of the life of Mary Weston Fordham survives. We know she was born about 1862 in South Carolina, and was a poet and a teacher. Black American women writers were sparsely published during the 19th century, and reviews of their work seem to be nearly nonexistent.

Softcover, 4.5×6.5″, lavender covers, 118 pages, $10 plus shipping.

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