Ann Arbor has always been a place where creativity thrives. Colorful murals, graffiti art, and whimsical fairy doors grace downtown building exteriors. Filmmakers, musicians, architects, poets, painters, publishers—artists and writers from all over the world are drawn to Ann Arbor for its diverse community, educated population, and vibrant campus atmosphere. What’s more, there are exceptional arts programs, museums, publishers, journals, book clubs, and cultural events for those who live here to enjoy. With Thanksgiving coming up, there’s no better time than now to acknowledge, celebrate, and give thanks for this community we love.
“Philosophers have worried over the mind-body problem for centuries, but poets have ignored that problem just as fruitfully for just as long: We know that thinking happens in the body, through the body—that invulnerable Achilles still needed an intricate shield to protect his body, to celebrate it and glorify it, fated for death though it was. We know that for things to truly exist in our poems (‘No ideas but in things!’) they must be embodied: the real toads in our imaginary gardens.”
In blending Cassie’s childlike fantasy with altruism and justice, Ringgold highlights not only one child’s ability to use play to prepare for the stresses of the adult world, but also the power fantasy maintains even for adults when it comes to seeking justice and defining freedom. Flight may be a typical childhood dream, but it’s also a deep motif of resistance in African-American folklore. (In 1985, author Virginia Hamilton packaged that motif expressly for young readers in her gorgeous collection The People Could Fly.) While Cassie’s dress changes color above the George Washington Bridge, the page is bordered with pieces of Ringgold’s story quilt–in which Cassie’s story originally appeared–a testament to the idea that the dream/memory is not only Cassie’s, but that of an entire community.
“My aim has been to look as squarely as I can, with clear eyes, at the truth of what human beings are capable of doing to each other. This is Paul’s aim too. Denial is a killer, and if we all felt the horror that so many are forced to experience I know there would be less violence in the world. This is a conviction I’ve had about life and about my writing long before I met Paul, though in the past I probably spent most of my time concentrating on stories of emotional violence, often of child abuse. It’s all the same. The weak are exploited and abused by the powerful, and silence, obfuscation, denial is a complicity that must be confronted.”