“It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you.” Toni Morrison, who celebrates her 82nd birthday today (Feb 18), wrote that immortal phrase 40 years ago about her sons Ford and Slade as part of the dedication of her acclaimed second novel Sula. The same words came back eight novels, a Pulitzer Prize, a Nobel Prize and a Presidential Medal of Freedom later to wrap their arms around her in loving celebration of the legacy she’s since built.
That was exactly the purpose of “Sheer Good Fortune,” a two-day commemoration of Morrison’s body of work that took place at Virginia Tech. The event was created by her longtime friends and fellow literary powerhouses Nikki Giovanni and Maya Angelou’s desire to “throw a lot of love around Toni” following the December 2010 death of her son Slade, who co-authored children’s books with her.
The historic gathering was a Who’s Who of the literary world — Angela Davis, Sonia Sanchez, Rita Dove, Edwidge Danticat, Kwame Alexander, Joanne V. Gabbin, Eugene Redmond, and many more came to mingle, laugh and reminisce with each other and the guest of honor. [Continue reading.]