Poet. Essayist. Black Arts Figure. Black Woman. Soldier. Voice. Mari Evans.
These words fractionally represent late writer Mari Evans.
Mari Evans, an Indianapolis-based writer of the Black Arts Movement, made her transition Friday, March 10th at the age of ninety-three. Evans’ long life demonstrates that even nearly a century proves too short to indulge non-earthly African talent.
To say that Evans’ transition is a loss would be an understatement. On a personal note, the personal tragedy of Evans’ life is that I was unaware of her treasure until her passing.
Upon reading the news—I consulted my literary anthology from undergrad and found her work amongst the works of her predecessors and peers. “Liberation Blues” proved especially resonant in depicting the black female ambivalence that often results from loving and losing Mr. Wrong. Although Evan’s poem “I Am a Black Woman” is easily an anthem to the black female experience, I personally find myself drawn to “ Where you’d go” as it illustrates Evans’ ability to create beauty from artful behavior. Evans words compose a unique way to acknowledge and amend heartache in a similar manner to an Aretha Franklin ballad.
Evans eternally holds a place in the black female narrative, demonstrating the depth of our brilliance and range of our creativity. Evans also illustrates the black female collective as a bottomless ocean of indigenous talent and story telling.
I may not have paid Evans her due homage in life, but I aim to join others within the black diaspora to ensure that her legacy is not lost, unknown or forgotten.
I leave you with a portion of Evans’ well-known poem “I Am a Black Woman”
I am a black woman
tall as a cypress
Beyond all definition still
on me and be
Thank you, Mari Evans, for gracing your constituency with a creative renewal only a black woman could grant another black woman. We are because you were.
Rest in Power.