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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Sheer Good Fortune with Toni Morrison

This past week has been extraordinary. It took several days for me to come down off my adrenaline high. I left Alabama headed to Virginia Tech with two of my girlfriends on October 14, 2012. We drove to Blacksburg, Virginia in foggy, rainy, gloomy weather Sunday night. It took us a little over eight hours to make arrive to our destination. We arrived tired, but too anxious to sleep. We only had two hours to get prepared before the press conference anyway, so I decided to get dressed and go over my interview questions for Toni Morrison.

We arrived fairly early and secured front row seats. The room was intimate, maybe with thirty people eventually being in the room. There was of course other press and media outlets there, but not as many as I expected or felt should have been there for such an auspicious occasion. They wheeled Dr. Morrison in and she looked vibrant and cheerful. After a few reporters asked questions, I knew if I wanted to ask my own, I would need to just jump in there and so I went for it. I asked about seven questions. My girlfriends were with me and they were able to ask her each a question as well. After the conference, they quickly wheeled Dr. Morrison away. I went and introduced myself to Nikki Giovanni thinking she probably didn't remember me. Surprisingly she did. She said, "I know who you are." Then she gave me a hug. I introduced my friends and we all took pictures.

Angela Davis, Maya Angelou and Sonia Sanchez
After Ms. Giovanni left, a documentary producer approached us about being in a documentary honoring Nikki Giovanni. We graciously accepted. We were led to this private library where camera and video had been set up, along with TV monitors. The monitors allowed us to see how we looked while we were being filmed. The three of us were interviewed individually, I went last. I honestly can't tell you what I said during my interview, I was so nervous. I don't even remember the questions the interviewer asked me. It was a surreal experience. I am truly grateful for the opportunity and as soon as the documentary becomes available, you know I'll post it any and everywhere.

Next we were invited to the reception the following day before the actual Sheer Good Fortune event. This is where it really gets good because I left Alabama having no expectation other than to get to the press conference and to attend the event. But so far I was able to get to the press conference and have my friends experience it with me. Not only that, but then be asked to participate in a documentary for Nikki Giovanni and then invited to the reception was a blessing. Every step of the way, things kept getting better and better.

Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou holding hands while
a tribute was being song to them
So we arrive at the reception, early as usual. We get so close that we are standing in front of the microphone where the presenters would speak. We see the attendees arriving and they are coming down the stairs in small groups. I glance up towards the stairs and nudge my friend, Joneia P. Brown. "It is Angela Davis and Sonia Sanchez." I repeat it again as if I need to hear it for myself to ring true. At this point, I'm giddy. We wanted to leave our spots and go over to both ladies, but our spots were too damn good and we hadn't seen Maya Angelou yet. A few moments later, Toni Morrison arrives and she is wheeled directly in front of us. Angela Davis and Sonia Sanchez go to her and they take pictures. Joneia sits on the floor in front of them and starts to take photos, the media is snapping away and recording and it's all pure magic. Then shortly thereafter, Maya Angelou is wheeled in next to Toni Morrison. Time basically stopped for me, I'm literally standing five feet directly in front of Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison. Everything becomes a blur at this moment. I'm trying to digest it and I think my cup is so full from delight, I can't process what's happening. After the reception, I am able to speak with Angela Davis and Sonia Sanchez. They are truly gracious and kind women. We were able to meet several Pulitzer Prize winners, Poet Laureates and distinguished authors and professors. I can't wait to tell you about all the talented gifted and extraordinary men and women we met while at the event. I indeed experienced sheer good fortune.

I have to personally thank Ms. Nikki Giovanni for being so gracious and  generous in accommodating our presence. The event was beyond spectacular and most people tasked with putting on such a splendid affair would be short or slightly stressed, but she never once appeared that way and was very kind to us every step of the way.

There is lots more to tell you and I'll give you all the details in the next post.

Poet and Blogger Kimeko Farrar, Television Producer and Speaker Joneia P. Brown , Nikki Giovanni and me :) Lena Sledge taken right after the press conference.


Next up....How I Made it to the VIP Room and the Actual Sheer Good Fortune Celebration. Stay Tuned.
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I am a writer, filmmaker, wife and a mom of five beautiful, intelligent, quirky kids. This blog is for writers, aspiring writers, filmmakers and movie lovers. Bringing you my favorite books, films and photos, as well as giveaways and updates on my journey. I'm currently in the process of producing my first short film from my collection of short stories titled, If I Had My Way. The first story to be filmed will be Tandarin Drive. My award winning book, If I Had My Way, is available now. You can purchase a copy at Amazon.com and BN.com. You may contact me via email at: blog@lenasledge.com

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