Saturday, July 17, 2010

Poetry Podcast: "Her First Toy" by Sylvia Parker

Listen to the poem here:

About the poem and the poet:

While waiting for a prescription, I browsed the clearance end caps at Target. I make a point to check the toy department for bargains on cute, classic toys that we can give to "Toys for Tots" come the holiday season.

I spotted this threesome. What struck me about them is the variety of skin tones and hair types. It's wonderful to imagine a little girl on Christmas morning with a doll that looks like her. We are not all blond-haired, blue-eyed, and model thin, and we don't have to be. Dolls should reflect differences and diversity too.

Then, I found this poem by Sylvia Parker.

It reflected my thoughts exactly. What a coincidence.

Unfortunately, Sylvia Parker is an enigma. I do want to continue to search the annals of feminist literary theory for more clues to her identity, but I want to share this poem now.

The only clue I found was that the poem was published in Black Woman Talk Poetry published by Blackwoman Talk in 1987.

According to the second edition of "Feminist Literary Theory: A Reader" edited by Mary Eagleton, Blackwoman Talk is/was a collective of women of Asian and African descent living in Britain.

The collective felt that the publishing industry ignored and silenced the views and ideas of black women in Britain.

In a statement from 1984, the collective said, "As black women, we experience oppression due to our sex, race, class, and sexual orientation. This is reflected in every area of our lives and the publishing industry is no exception. It is a powerful medium for communication and it reflects the racism and sexism of this society."

The collective began as a group of unemployed women who formed a publishing cooperative with the goal of "providing a means to publish work and encourage more black women to write their life experiences and provide a greater knowledge and understanding of the lives and history of black women in the wider community and make alternative materials available in schools."

That goal is still valid 26 years later.

And it can start with a simple toy.

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