Remembering Toni Morrison
This message comes from n._p._r. Sponsor xfinity some things are slow like a snail races. Other things are fast like xfinity x. by get get fast speeds even when everyone is online working to make wifi simple easy awesome more at xfinity dot com restrictions apply from w._h._y._y. In philadelphia this is fresh air. I'm david being cooley in for terry gross. Today we remember tony morrison the nobel prize laureate in literature and and pulitzer prize winning author of beloved song of solomon tar baby jazz and other novels as in children's books. She was known for her precise poetic prose. Her books drew from the black oral tradition african american folktales in the ghost stories. She was told as a child when she was young. There were few black characters n. books and when they did occur there's a kind of embarrassment a kind of a need to skip over those parts in say being in the tenth grade eight in reading uncle tom's cabin or seeing children's books in which was it sambo i mean you know these kinds of things. Any sort of politely erase ace them from your consciousness will listen back to excerpts from three of our interviews with her remembering. Tony morrison on today's fresh air today show is devoted to tony oni morrison one of the most celebrated writers of our time who died monday. She was eighty eight years old morrison pulitzer prize for fiction in one thousand nine hundred eighty eight for her novel. Oh beloved about a former slave looking back on her life. After the civil war in nineteen ninety-three she became the first african american woman to win the nobel prize for literature in two thousand twelve president obama awarded morrison the nation's highest civilian honor the presidential medal of freedom and in twenty fifteen. She won the lifetime achievement award from the national book critics circle today. We're going to feature three of toni morrison's conversations with terry gross covering three different decades. The most recent is from two thousand fifteen. When tony morrison published god help the child another is from nineteen ninety two the year she wrote her novel called jazz. Yes and we're going to start with the earliest of the three an interview from nineteen eighty-seven when she had just written beloved the novel for which she won the pulitzer prize beloved is set in eighteen seventy three after the civil war. It's about escaped and emancipated slaves who were trying to build new lives but are haunted by the past the main character sethi lives with the ghost of her two year old baby girl sethi slit her baby's throat eighteen years earlier rather rather than let her be recaptured into slavery. Her ghost is known as beloved the one word that was printed on her tombstone. Tony morrison told terry sorry how she prepared herself emotionally to write about slavery. I always suspected that i didn't have the emotional stability to live in that world for the three or four years however long it would take to examine it so i did it. <hes> i suppose the way they did <hes> <hes> which was a little bit of time because if you start out to write a book about slavery you're probably already lost because it's big and it's long and you discover how long two hundred years is <hes> <hes> not five years not ten two hundred so that you have to have a anchor or mooring and the mooring is a group of characters who are caring about very deeply but you couldn't tell yourself. I couldn't tell myself that i was is writing a book about slavery because it would have i would have drowned in that. I think there have been a lot of books and movies that have actually really trivialized sized slavery <hes> or where slavery becomes the backdrop for you know a romantic story or something like that. Did you feel in advance of descending down to write this book that there were certain traps that you had to avoid an order to really get to the truth of the experience yeah <hes> i think that was part of the fear <hes>. I'm trying to avoid the routine treatment. You and i'm included in this group. Everybody thinks you sort of know all about it <hes> but until you project into it <hes> most of the information is is <hes> so sensational so exotic so alien in so pathological that that it's difficult to grasp and the fact is that most slaves stories that focus on the slaves focus on them as the pathological ones and never focus on the pathology in which they live and in which they are exercising ising everything they know about being human in order to maintain that position so that the trivial treatments of make of of sleep stories sometimes written and sometimes filmed is as though this was the kind of <hes> as you say scene in which other things of infinitely more interesting then the lives of the slaves as we're going on. I think a lot of <hes> children who grew up in families families of <hes> holocaust survivors or <hes> families in which there's there's you know history in a history of of slavery someplace get almost parables toll to them about what could happen and why you have to live life a certain way to protect yourself against certain certain evils and how you have to rise above the horrors that were inflicted on on your grandparents or whatever did you did. You get lectures like that from your parents parents no i didn't. I got other messages from them which were much more valuable because those are very negative. The ones you just re sited. <hes> i mean it's undue burdens is though i am somehow responsible for <hes> all of that what they did which i found really quite healthy was they assumed without ever articulating it that we were <hes> capable able and quite bright and in some way morally superior to those who had degraded themselves by trying to degrade us. They seem to feel that you know the rich people are there were white people that were wicked people who really had a lot of answering to do for themselves and we were not like that so i always felt very special <hes> i've always felt for purposes. Says of xenophobia doesn't work but i always thought that we were on a higher plane than other people not because there was fear out there they're not because white people could make me into something less because they never believed that was the case what they could do would be to kill me on main amy whether you're never made me have be without quality and that was so much a part of my upbringing and everybody else i knew in that town on we were very very poor. People that i it took me years to be able to articulate what it was that made me feel like i belonged in in this place and it was this rather than giving me all these sort of <hes> sermonizing about tower in other words. I was not afraid you hit a lot of self respect yeah. That's what this song but it wasn't you must have. I hear people say you lost somebody. You really are good. Yeah all right and then people say oh yeah within. Maybe a possibility that i'm not but these they they were not surprised at its superior work. We the first person in your family to go to college no really i don't uncle who went to ohio state so it wasn't a big symbolic symbolic thing for us. It was a big economic brothel for me to go and shaky money being so scarce that <hes> my mother took a job to help out my father had to and more often than not three jobs in order to take care of us but i remember them saying look we can guarantee you one year after that lucy lucy so i went away feeling very blessed about the fact that there was a year available to me but not ever believing that i would have a second. Can you be able to pay for a second year and i also worked but you know things are very different than tony morrison speaking speaking to terry gross in one thousand nine hundred seven the year her novel beloved was published. It would win the pulitzer prize for fiction after a break. We'll hear tony morrison read from her novel jazz from another conversation between her and terry this one from nineteen. Ninety-two this is fresh air. This message comes from n._p._r. Sponsor each raid investing your money shouldn't require moving mountains no matter how much or how little experience you have each raid makes investing simple along with great value oh you they provide the tools and support you need to navigate the markets all to help your money work hard for you for more information visit each raid dot com slash n._p._r. We are e-trade securities l._l._c. member sipc. We're remembering raider. Toni morrison who died monday at the age of eighty eight terry gross spoke with her again in one thousand nine hundred to about her novel jazz her sixth novel and her first book since beloved jazzy said in harlem in nineteen twenty six and is about african americans who moved from the rural south to the urban north. It's also about love jealousy. Violence and aging a woman named violet finds out her husband has been having an affair with a younger woman whom he has killed at her funeral. Violet takes revenge on the corpse. Here's tony morrison morrison reading from the opening. I know that woman she's to live with a flock of birds on lenox avenue no her husband to he fell for an eighteen year old girl. One of those deep down spooky loves that made him so sad and happy he shot her just to keep the feeling going. When the woman her name is violet went to the funeral to see the girl and to cut her dead face they threw it to the floor and out of the church she ran into all that snow and when she got back to her apartment took the birds from their cages and set them out the windows to freeze or fly including the parrot that said i love you the snow she ran through with so windswept. She left no footprints in it so for time. Nobody knew exactly where on lenox avenue she lived but like me. They knew who she was who she had to be because they knew that her husband joe trace was the one who shot the girl. There was never anyone to prosecuting because nobody actually saw him. Do it and the dead girls aren't didn't want to <hes> throw money to helpless lawyers or laughing cops when she knew the expense wouldn't improve anything besides she found out that the man who killed internees cried all day and for him and for violent that is as bad as jail tony morrison reading from her her new novel jazz. You know the the woman who cuts the face of the dead woman. <hes> a character later says to to the woman who who does the cutting. I don't understand women like women with knives. Do you understand women with knives kind of crimes of passion like that not entirely early. I think part of the reason i was interested in the story and in that period was some way to figure out <hes> the impulses for you're violence as sort of notion of solution and how it plays into notions of license and freedom so it was a quest really on on my part. I'm not quite sure. I understand that kind of excess. Was there a particular crime that you wanted to understand or a particular woman with with a knife who you wanted to understand. The woman i really wanted to understand was darcus. <hes> the young girl who is based on a historical figure actually a young girl who died in harlem at party shop by her lover with a silencer and who refused used to let anybody help her because she wanted to give him time to get away and waited so long that she bled to death that was extremely provocative to me that kind of romance that probably is representative of song that young wow her acceptance of his violence the way in which a young girl or woman deals with assault under certain circumstances stances and certain ears and periods. What's the closest. You've seen to this in real life. I've never seen any other. I i mean i don't i had seen it or participated in it. I probably wouldn't be so interested in writing about it but <hes> it was sort of outside. I wanted to own personal experience that is compulsive no family legends or neighborhood legends from when you were growing up not about women about out men yes <hes> who were championed because of their endurance and their response to violence associated with them but the women even that i knew were <hes> <hes> i suppose in a manner verbally able to deflect violence. There's there's a passage in jazz about the kind of women who needed a certain kind of protection. There were those who had <hes> raises taped to do their hands. There were those who are willing to boil <hes> lie and those who are willing to put ground glass food but there is a secondary passage acids which explains what a large majority of black women did in terms of trying to protect themselves the church. The club movement the acquisition of property <hes>. I think the line goes any black woman in nineteen. Twenty six did not share some of those protective protective gestures was silent or crazy or dead tony mars and is my guest. You have the sense in your algiers of people coming to harlem. We're coming to the city and feeling more like themselves. They're more like the people they always believed. They were is the way you you put it. That's obviously something we're really interested in developing story just what what it meant physically emotionally for people move to move moved to the city <hes> you must have stories about that in your in your family history though i do yes that move from the rural areas where i think in literature sometimes we romanticize into the freedom of the countryside you know the sort of ability to commune with nature and b. ones <hes> <hes> transcendent self and there is that <hes> mythos in richard and there's an accompanying one which is the freedom of a city on the one enhanced certain kind of anonymity but more particularly for an especially for african americans it was moving into an area where there were so many of you you could see yourself in your number and there was a certain kind of protection in that as well as some license also it was. I don't know the idea of a city as being a place where there is a mix where there are many classes many kinds of the people and however eccentric you are there. Are you know at least a hundred other people who are eccentric in precisely the same way so that one has solitude solitariness individuality and community in a city. What would you sheriff us. One of your parents migration stories yes <hes> i think one of the ones that i remember best with when my mother's parents left left the south left alabama <hes> my grandmother's husband my grandfather had gone to a large city <hes> to earns some money playing the violin as a matter of fact and she was alone on their farm with these children who were very very young. I think my mother was five five and there was some danger about it was the time when a woman alone with several children was <hes> kind of target and her words were that when she noticed white boys beginning to circle that house she had to leave immediately so she sent word to her husband to my grandfather by by somebody who was on route to tell him that she would be on exchan- at x. time and that <hes> if she wanted if he wanted to see them again he should be there and so they left in the middle of the night <hes> in the middle of the night because there's always debt in that sort of share cropping situation that most most <hes> post-reconstruction black people found themselves and and <hes> went to birmingham and got on the train and as the train pulled out there was no papa and the chiltern all began to cry and a few miles outside the city he appeared hurt but he hadn't felt that he could show himself at the station and get on with them because they were escaping that cycle of debt. You know that round that you never really escape because you know the commissary of the general store you need for the feed and that takes the crops etc so it was a happy <hes> event for them and then the subsequent stops on that route to where they were headed looking for work for mines that we're asking for laborers for mills for women who could work in service is an interesting and very typical story and the ended up on the shores source of lake erie where i was born in ohio. Yes what was lorraine like when you were growing up what kind of neighborhood <hes> we're we're. We're you growing up in. It was an interesting place. I still think it's remarkable in that part of ohio and i think in a large and many of those states i never lived in a black neighborhood <hes> <hes> because what we were living in we're really just poor neighborhoods so that i grew up with all of the other immigrants who are coming to this country <hes> <hes> i'm thinking as i speak to you now the house where my mother lives <hes> at this moment and the people on the street are named her shack and golini and my mother are there any black woman named mrs ross and so on that's always been the case in that town because it was the steel town and people were coming from mexico from eastern in europe from scandinavia from everywhere as well as black people coming to these centers just after world war one and someone in some instances before in order to find work so we had a kind of town that was <hes>. I don't know all the ideals there are probably purely rhetorical existed in that little town however everybody whether they were polish people or what what they used to call slovenes in those days <hes> had their own halls churches and <hes> you know family life that was not mixed. You know you didn't exchange on those areas in those days but this one high school four junior high schools and we all went to the same school so what was the african american cultural center was at the church or was it something else the church absolutely the church part of it was sunday part of it was sunday school but a lot of it was taking taking care of each other and what i remember most is the impetus and the necessity for my mother and her friends and for all of us to take food to people who need it or to go oh clean somebody's house if they were bedridden <hes> all sorts of chores are taken for granted when people got old they didn't have a place for for them to go and if their families were indigent or couldn't take care of them that was the responsibility of the women of the church or of the neighborhood it was just a constant constant distant <hes> part of one's life. I think in the bluest eye recorded something similar that really happened which is my sister and and i would sleep in the same bed and we might wake up and there might be a child next to us. Somebody who was in difficulty or the parent was set or gone and women in the neighborhood take them in and there might be some children living with his you know two weeks or months or what have you you know kind of violation of <hes> what everybody seems to sink is important which is intimacy and privacy but at the same time it was kind of sharing of <hes> other of responsibility social responsibilities was we never no one ever talked about it and said you know you ought to be responsible member of society but everything people did was like that in your new book of literary criticism playing in the dark you write about how until recently american readers there's were assumed to be white and you wonder what that assumption has meant to the literary imagination in america. Were you when you started reading. Were you conscious of <hes> <hes> reading books in which there were <hes> few if any black characters no i was conscious of of there being a sort of disruption in some books when black people did occur and there was a kind of embarrassment a kind of a need to skip over those parts in say being in the tenth grade in reading uncle tom's cabin <hes> or seeing <hes> children's books in which <hes> was it sambo i mean you know these kinds of things and you sort of politely erase them from your consciousness until you get older and then when i became a writer i had to function in a language that was coded in a number of ways and and i had to work with those codes i didn't have access to some of the metaphors and shortcuts that say a white writer has who feels he or she is unraced. I and they can take for granted the centrality of their experience because it is white and they think that's on being without a race everybody anybody else has raised white people don't <hes> they could take for granted that kind of centrality and they could use cleverly <hes> brilliantly <hes> effectively or not as the case might be the presence of black people just as they frequently did the presence of women. It's sort of something you have in your kid so when you say that the language was coded. Let me get you to elaborate on the kind of code you felt you had to yeah cut through or work around <hes> using black women and men to appear in a scene scene for no reason other than to provide the tension that might suggest illegal sexuality or violence silence they have no other function except to define and to suggest <hes> these <hes> to be the association association of and you wonder why they there and they may never be picked up again to have <hes> classical american literature turn to need to establish virtue power and dominance over something and to need an obedient <hes> black person person or someone who loves you irrationally mark tweens. Jim is irrational. In that sense <hes> his i love is boundless and he's a grown man talking to children <hes> you i could not do that say with a white man who was an ex ex-convict. I i think it's fair to say that in most of your fiction there's really been very few significant white characters well. Yes yeah so <hes> how how does that relate to what you're talking about. Now about the you know about the code and all well in in a sense having having it would be silly for me to write or to concentrate on major wife derek does <hes> because i wasn't interested in it and also it destabilizes the <hes> pro the progress of the narrative in a way for example putting in a young black girl centerstage seemed to me a radical thing to do and nineteen sixty five when i first began writing the bluest eye once you begin to permit the reins of the narrative to be held by a major white person you lose the agency you lose the terrain <hes> the imaginative terrain because you may be forced into responding to a white presence oscilloscope examining what the interior lives of these people are without the constant need to explain to editorialize into fix so it was an enormous liberation for me and one that i find to be <hes> repeated a lot particularly in the work of of <hes> black women once you take take those people out then it's the whole world is available now for <hes> for one's own creativity but in a sense it's. It's all a little bit more real than that white. People were not central to my life. They were out there sort of on the edge sometimes wonderful all in enabling sometimes hostile and disabling but the heart of the life even in the town that i described was in our household in our family so that in the novels i wanted to in that sense <hes> not have characters who were always required to consistently think about what people were thinking it makes you reduce them in some sort of stereotypical typical way that you that i would shy away from but certainly i was interested in fascinated by and <hes> so thrilled by a number of minor figures that is secondary figures enabling figures in who are white such as amy denver in <hes> beloved who is not required to be a white person in that scene because she's not around any other white people so she can go ahead and be a person and also she does something that almost never happens if ever in american fiction which is to have a white person touch a a black person with some motive other than sex or violence tony morrison speaking with terry gross in nineteen ninety-two after a break. We'll hear one more of terry's conversations with the celebrated author who died monday at age eighty eight. This one is from just four four years ago in two thousand fifteen. When tony morrison published what would be her last novel. God help the child. This is fresh air support for fresh air and the following message come from rocket mortgage by quicken loans. Imagine how it feels to have an award winning team of mortgage experts make the home buying process smoother for you with a history of industry leading online lending technology rocket mortgage is changing the game visit rocket mortgage dot com slash fresh air equal housing lender licensed in all fifty states in m._l._s. consumeraccess dot org number thirty thirty rocket mortgage by quicken loans push-button get mortgage <music>. What do all of these people haven't common kamla harris. Keep food adjudge and bernie sanders. They're all running for president and they've all sat down with us on on the n._p._r. Politics podcast appeals gonna drive me crazy. We are going out on the trail with as many of the democratic presidential candidates as we can bring you in depth interviews with them. Come along by subscribing to the n._p._r. Politics podcast in two thousand fifteen at the age of eighty four tony morrison wrote a new novel called god. God help the child which would be the last one published in her lifetime. She died monday at the age of eighty eight. God help. The child begins with the line. It's not not my fault. Those words are spoken by an african american woman explaining that she has no idea why she gave birth to such a dark skinned baby. The mother is embarrassed by her daughters darkness and wants to distance herself. The daughter is scarred by not having her mother's love. The novel is about those childhood wounds that leave a lasting mark even into adulthood tony morrison welcome back to fresh air. I'd like to start by asking muted. Do a reading from your new novel so this is from very early in the novel where sweetness the mother who is light skinned african american is was talking about how shocking and upsetting it was to give birth to a daughter with very dark skin as she describes it midnight black sudanese black so would you pick up from there with the reading sure i hate to say it but from the very beginning in the maternity ward the the baby lula an embarrassed me her birth skin was pale like all babies even african ones but it changed fast. I thought it was going crazy when she turned blue black right before my eyes i know i want crazy for a minute because once it's just for a few seconds. I held a blanket over her face and pressed but i couldn't do that. No matter how how much i wished she hadn't been born but that terrible caller i even thought of giving her away to an orphanage someplace and i was scared to be one of those mothers who put their babies church steps recently. I heard about a couple in germany any why s snow who had a dark skinned baby. Nobody could explain twins. I believe one white one colored but i don't know is true. All i know is that for me. Nursing her was like having a picket any sucking deed route. I went to bottle feeding soon as i got home. My husband lewis is a porter and when he got back off the rails he looked at me like i was really crazy and looked at her like she was from the planet jupiter. He wasn't cussing man so when he said god damn what the hell is this. I knew we were in trouble. That's what digit what caused the fights between me him. It broke our marriage to pieces. We had three good years together but when she was born he blamed me and treated lula and like she was a stranger more than that an enemy he never touched her. I never did convince him that. I ain't never ever fooled around with another man. He was did sure sure. I was lying. We are to argued till i told him her blackness be from his own family not not my that's tony morrison reading from her new novel. God help the child so the mother this's herself from the daughter because of the daughters orders dark skin the father leaves thinking this child must not be his because he too is lighter skin and that's that's the whole story in motion and i'm wondering why you chose <hes> color you know the the level of blackness as the central part of the story well. I wanted to separate color from embrace. <hes> distinguishing color light black inbetween as the marker her for race is really an hour. It's socially constructed. It's culturally enforced. I edit has some advantages for certain people but this is really <hes> skin privilege <hes> the ranking of color in terms of its closeness to white people white skinned people and it's devaluation according to how dr corneas and the impact that has on people who are dedicated to <hes> the privileges of certain levels of skin color so were there times in your life when you've been exposed to that kind of <hes> hierarchy of color within the african american community i have. I didn't have it until i went away to college. I didn't know there was this kind of preference but i noticed <hes> n addition to the outside world of washington d. c. Which at that time this is ninety ninety four point nine nine hundred fifty. There were very obvious stated written differences between what white people were able able to do and what black people were able to do but on the campus were. I felt safe and welcome. I began to realize that this idea of the lighter the better and the darker the worse was really <hes> an had an impact on sororities on friendships on all sorts of things and it was stunning to me and you went to a traditionally african american college howard university. Yes there's a new york magazine cover story about you recently gently and in that article you described when you were young witnessing your father throw white man down the stairs because your father thought this man and was coming up the stairs after his daughters. Was your father afraid that this man was coming to abuse you and your sisters. I think he thought so. I think his own experience in georgia would have made him think that any white man bumbling up the stairs. He's toward our apartment was not there for any good and since we were little girls. He assumed that i think he made a mistake. I mean i really think the man was drunk. I don't think he was really trailing us but the interesting thing was a the white man was he survived. Be the real thing for me. Was i felt profoundly protected and defended i did i was not happy because after my father threw him down the steps all the way out into the street he he through our tricycle after that was a little bit of a problem since we needed her tricycle but that made me think i think that there was some devil terry something evil about white people which is exactly what my father thought he was very very serious in his hatred of white people what mitigated it was my mother other who is exactly the opposite who never rejected or accepted anybody based on race or color or religion take any of that. Everybody was an individual whom she approved or disapproved of based on her perception of them as individuals take. You said that this incident made you feel protected. It sounds terrifying though for two reasons one is that your father basically gave you idea that this man was coming upstairs to do harm and to watching your father not only through him downstairs throwing your tricycle down the stairs after after him. It sounds like that would be a little frightening to see also well. It was my father who could do do no wrong so i didn't think of it. As oh look my father's violent man he never spanked us. He never unquote with us. He never argued with us. He was dedicated. He was sweet so he did this thing to protect his children think it must have been hard for your father to hate eight white people and to live in a neighborhood in which does a lot of white people well. You know my father saw two black. Men lynched act on his street in carterville george as a child and i think seeing two black doc businessmen not vegas hanging from trees as a child was traumatic for him. If you're just joining us my guest is toni morrison and she has a new novel called. God help the child. The main characters birth name is lula and bridewell months. She's sixteen. She changes it to end bride. Two years later. She changes it to one name bride and she's in the fashion world in the cosmetics swirl severi signature kind of name to have names very important in your fiction. There's often people people often have nicknames uh-huh and <hes> i i'm interested in hearing about why names have such <hes> real and symbolic importance importance in your stories was the whole history i think in naming <hes> in the beginning of black people being in this country they we lost the name and they were given names by their masters and so they didn't have names and they began to call one another other. You know decades later by nicknames. I don't think i knew any of my father's friends male friends by the real name i remember them only by their nicknames and also there was a honesty. Sometimes the names were humiliating deliberately so somebody would pick out your flaw. If you were a little to call you shorty and if you were angry they would call you the devil i remember a man who was called jim the dell always those three words have you seen the devil no no and then you think of the musicians <hes> satchmo louis armstrong what is saturated that satchel mouth or you think about them giving themselves royle names duke and count don't and king you know it's very personal identification trying to move away maybe abc from the history of having no name and then personalizing it one one hand to give you a name. That's embarrassing in in order to make you confronted deal with now and then later on more charming names move away from mm humiliating names like sexual so your birth name is khloe wofford marson. Was your married name when you're married but you you you've been divorced a long time since nineteen seventy four and tony was shortened from anthony which was the name when you were <hes> vent and so am i right in saying that you became a catholic when you were twelve. That's what i read e. I so so let's start with your name. Once you started being called tony. Did you feel different from being called khloe. I never felt like anything other than khloe. In oh my name khloe. Nobody could pronounce it properly outside my family in school. The teachers called me clo clo v we because it was spelled that way it's much more common now but i couldn't bear to have people mispronounced announced by name but the person i was was this person who is called khloe so then i go away away and the people in washington they don't know how to pronounce c._a. Jell o. e. so somebody mistakenly called me tony because she couldn't hear khloe so i said now so i don't care com you tony. It's easy you don't mispronounce by name and then i meant to put my maiden name came in the first book i wrote as a matter of fact by call the publisher and said oh by the way i don't want tony morrison to be on the ball and they said it's too late. They've already sent it to live of congress but i really would ahead preferred tony lawford tony morrison speaking with terry gross in two thousand fifteen more after a break. This is fresh air support for this n._p._r. Podcast and the following message come from curio collection by hilton with all curio collection by hilton hotels. There's something more to discover. Take the foodie forward resorts of silence goon in the maldives and the eager own hotel in spain eager ron's michelin starred chef diego guy iago's romances pilots highlights with multicultural and environmentally friendly dishes. Silence guna takes personalization to a new level by using natural ingredients to create unique nick plates for each guest. Are you curious visit hilton dot com slash n._p._r. Support for n._p._r. Comes from w._h._y._y. Presenting the pulse a podcast that takes you on adventures into unexpected corners of health and science plastic in the guts of deep sea creatures crying after after anesthesia building your own internet. Each episode is full of fascinating stories and big ideas the pulse available where you get your podcasts or at w._h._y._y. Dot org. Let's conclude our salute to author toni morrison who died monday at the age of eighty eight by returning to the interview she recorded with terry gross in twenty twenty fifteen so just one more question you. You didn't start writing till you're thirty nine forty because you didn't have the time or didn't didn't know you had it in you. Like what was the point in which you said i'm gonna write a novel what changed when i was teaching at a howard university after got her masters at cornell annouce gully my twenties and i joined a group of faculty and writers who met i think once a month to read to each other and critique doc each other so i brought to these meetings little things i had written for classes as an undergraduate and dan they had really good lunches really good food during these meetings but they wouldn't let you continue to it. Come if you're just reading old stuff so i had to think of something new if i was going to continue to have this really good food in really good company so i started writing and i remember very clearly that was writing was a pencil sitting on the couch writing with a pencil trying to think up something and remembering what i just described the tablet was that legal pad you know yellow with the lines and i had a baby. My over sun was barely walking and he spit up on the tablet and i was doing something really interesting. I think with the sentence because i wrote around the puke because i figured i could always wipe that. I might not get that sense. So i wrote a bit of that. I went to the meetings. They thought it was very interesting. Because this you know maybe five or six pages and they were very encouraging and then i left and i went to syracuse etcetera etcetera and in the mornings before my children were awake i would go back and finish that and then it took five years by the way to write that little book because i wasn't thinking about publishing. I was thinking about the narrative and i want to say so. That's really how got started tony morrison. Thank you so much for talking with us. I really appreciate it. You're very welcome tony morrison speaking to terry gross in two thousand fifteen. Today's show also featured terry's interviews with the celebrated author from nineteen ninety two and from nineteen eighty-seven tony morrison died monday. She was eighty eight <music> on monday. Show terry's guests will be sister helen prejean who wrote about ministering to men on death row in the book dead man walking at the age of eighty. She has a new memoir about her spiritual. She'll talk about entering the convent as a teenager celibacy and her work in social justice hope you can join us fresh. Air's executive producer is danny miller. Our technical director and engineer is audrey bentham with additional engineering support from joyce lieberman and jillian hurts. All our associate producer for digital media is molly seavy nesper. Roberta shorrock directs the show for terry gross. I'm david being cooling.