Alice Walker is an acclaimed author, poet, feminist, activist and spiritual mentor. She won a Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple. Political and spiritual convictions are at the heart of her literary output, and over the years she has continued to expand her focus.
Rudolph P. Byrd, a professor of American Studies and founding director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University, has put together a biographical essay on Alice Walker's work and influences along with a chronology of her life. He has also organized and edited this collection of enlightening conversations and interviews from 1973 – 2009. Among those who pose questions to Alice Walker are Margo Jefferson, Howard Zinn, Claudia Tate, and Amy Goodman. We were glad to see interviews by fellow spiritual travelers Tami Simon of Sounds True and Michael and Justine Toms of New Dimensions.
It is interesting to read about the experiences which have shaped Walker's life and work, including the accident at age eight that caused her to lose an eye, her interracial marriage to civil rights attorney Mel Leventhal, her time spent at Spellman and then Sarah Lawrence College, her decision to teach a course on black women's literature, her adventures as an editor at Ms. magazine, and her continuing commitment to social activism and humanitarian work.
One thing is for sure: Walker knows how to give a great interview! We were especially taken with her comments on African-American animism, how her work was influenced by Flannery O'Conner, her antagonism towards capitalism and her preference for working-class characters in her fiction, the importance of reconnecting with one's ancestors, the spiritual connection of kissing, her abiding interest in love and freedom, and her adoration for circles and councils as ways to share consciousness.