I remember waiting for the keychains to enter the cafe so I could meet her in person and ask her to sign my book. Growing up in Arkansas, I struggled to find writers whose stories reflected the challenges of being a woman in rural America. I find the attractions – as a woman from rural Kentucky – understandable, her essays and critiques both compelling and scathing.
I deeply respect her decision to return to Kentucky because I have similarly complicated feelings about Arkansas, where I grew up. I have read the biographies of authors I respect obsessively, and many of them reflect the idea that New York and San Francisco – cities I have never visited – are at the heart of the world. world of writing, of intellect and ideas. Like the hooks, I felt like I had to leave behind certain negative images of Arkansas, the stereotypes others recounted to me about the poor, uneducated mountain people.
I really want to be a writer, but I don’t know how to make money from writing. Instead, I made latte while living in a chalet with a house in the woods. I grew up in the countryside of the Ozark Mountains with a boarding house, and I thought living in such conditions would allow me to save money. And I hope that by saving money, I will be able to have space to write. I believe, as hooks wrote in “Communion”: “…the truth is that finding ourselves brings more excitement and happiness than anything romantic brings, and somewhere we are. know that.”
From my earliest memories, I knew I wanted to be a writer, and my love of writing excites me more than any romantic relationship. Happily, with her focus on making feminist intellectual and theoretical works accessible, I found a companion. Hooks make me feel less alone and alien in a world that often celebrates women for milestones associated with traditional romance like marriage and children. In “Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood,” she writes, “This is my home. This bone-black inner cave where I am creating a world of my own.” As she did with me, she showed so many ways to create a feminist life, a writing life, outside of stereotypical stories for women.
The first time I met the bell hooks at the coffee shop, I was amazed by how small she was and her cheerful energy, making everyone turn to her as if she were the face of the world. heaven and they are sunflowers. It took me a few weeks to build up the confidence to approach her. One morning, when she ordered coffee, I pulled “Communion: The Search for Female Love” from below the register. She wrote, “Love connects us…” in her dedication, and she told me to keep writing. Her words helped me get through that tumultuous year, and I have continued to write. I haven’t stopped yet.
I returned to Berea College in 2015, the year I published my first book, to see stories about bells while chatting with Gloria Steinem. I took with me her hooks, her words and her life, with me then, as now – and always will be.