Davis, Rose Parkman 1947–
Davis, Rose Parkman 1947–
(Rose Parkman Marshall, Rose Parkman Davis Marshall)
PERSONAL: Born November 2, 1947, in Silver Creek, MS; daughter of Judge (a farmer and construction worker) and Mattie (a homemaker and teacher; maiden name, Oatis) Parkman; children: Lumbe Kibebe, Jelani Nyerere. Ethnicity: "African American." Education: Attended Brown University, 1967; Tougaloo College, B.A., 1968; Illinois Institute of Technology, M.S., 1970; University of Alabama, M.L.S., 1989. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Baptist. Hobbies and other interests: Sewing, making puzzles related to African Americans and the Bible, walking, travel, "surfing the Web," studying the Bible, "reading everything."
CAREER: Jackson State University, Jackson, MS, teacher of English, 1970–72; high school English teacher in Boston, MA, freelance consultant, and legal secretary, between 1972 and 1978; Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS, instructor in English and director of Writing Center, 1979–84; freelance writer and consultant, Jackson, 1984–88; Mary Holmes College, West Point, MS, reference and technical services librarian, 1989–91; Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, branch librarian and assistant professor, 1991–95; Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC, coordinator of library instruction and assistant professor, 1996–2000; University of South Carolina—Columbia, Columbia, coordinator of library instruction, 2000–2005; University of South Carolina, Aiken, library instruction coordinator, 2005–. City of Jackson, coordinator of community arts program, 1985–87, designer and coordinator of Neighborhood Arts Jubilee, 1988; Mississippi Arts Commission, planner and coordinator of Governor's Awards in the Arts and Governor's Conference on the Arts, 1987–88; arts consultant. Wesley Foundation, member of board of advisors, 1999–2000; Disability Action Center, Inc., member of board of directors, 2000–05.
MEMBER: American Library Association, American Association of University Women, South Carolina Library Association, Mississippi Library Association, Metrolina Library Association, University of Alabama Graduate School of Library Studies Alumni Association, Tougaloo College National Alumni Association, Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Black History Every Month: Puzzles for Learning, [Jackson, MS], 1982.
A Guide to Training Peer Tutors, Tougaloo College (Tougaloo, MS), 1983.
Women's Studies: Bibliographic Essay and List of Electronic Resources, 1994–95, Mississippi State University (Mississippi State, MS), 1995.
Zora Neale Hurston: An Annotated Bibliography and Reference Guide, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1997.
(Under name Rose Parkman Marshall) Unbuckle My Soul (poetry chapbook), J.K. Sunn Press (Rock Hill, SC), 2004.
Work represented in anthologies, including Buzzard's Luck, Tougaloo College, 1965; Pound, Brown University Press (Providence, RI), 1968; and Out of the Rough: Women's Poems of Survival and Celebration, edited by Dorothy Perry Thompson, Novello Festival Press (Charlotte, VA), 2001; contributor to other books, including Hurrying the Spirit: Following Zora, Dorothy Perry Thompson, Palaquin Press, 2002; and Your College Experience: Strategies for Success, 6th edition, edited by John N. Gardner and A. Jerome Jewler, Wadsworth/Thomson Learning (Belmont, CA), 2005. Contributor of articles, stories, poems, and reviews to periodicals, including Mississippi Libraries.
WORK IN PROGRESS: First Class: Audre Lorde, Warrior Poet, including contributions from students of Lorde; collaborating on a novel.
SIDELIGHTS: Rose Parkman Davis once told CA: "My first poem, 'Little Colored Girl,' was written on a farm in rural Mississippi when I was in the eleventh grade. In freshman honors English class, I wrote my first short story. Then as a new English major, my first creative writing class was taught by novelist Rosellen Brown (Hoffman at the time). She published the collected stories of students in a book, and I thought I was a serious writer! The next year, poets Jay Wright and A.B. Spellman came to Tougaloo College to conduct one-week writers' workshops. Again, I was convinced that I was a serious poet, not a fiction writer. My final collegiate experience was in a class with poet Audre Lorde, who spent the spring at Tougaloo as a writer-in-residence. Wonderful teachers and literary role models pranced through my life as a teen and young adult, but I wrote seriously as a poet only until I was about twenty-five years old. Then my words disappeared." Davis later added: "Then I turned to journaling and research and teaching. In 1997, however, poet and friend Dorothy Perry Thompson convinced me to try poetry again, and I began to write with a group of her students in a structured poetry workshop. How glad I am that she persisted! My first poetry chapbook was published in 2004, and I am happily readying a book of Christian verse for publication.
"As a fairly new librarian, I still love the research process and the challenge of the hunt for hard-to-find information. I discovered Zora Neale Hurston while doing research for a paper in graduate school. The more I learned about her, the more I learned that she and I are much alike—from the closet full of hats to our simple irreverence to our 'differentness' to our love of the South to our sassy mouths!
"Though I never studied her work in college, Hurston is a writer I greatly admire. I read and re-read her novels, stories, and folk tales all the time. However, it was my creative writing teacher Audre Lorde who influenced my decision to think about writing. It was to her I went in secret one afternoon to share a poem I had written the previous fall. This woman—who was just publishing her first book of poetry—looked at the skinny, black girl-child who timidly passed her a hand-written poem, read it, looked me in the eye, and said, 'Little black girl, you have the soul of a writer.' I still remember how I felt that afternoon. In my mind's eye, I can still feel my shoulders straightening, can hear the breath leaving my open mouth, can smell the pride I felt that a New York poet believed I had talent. And I believe Ms. Lorde knew how precious was the gift she had given me. I take her gift out of the closet sometimes and hold it in my hands to remind myself that a warrior poet had faith in me, that I ought to honor her spirit by going back to poetry. She spent a few more minutes looking over my work that afternoon. I was honored when she published a collection of the class's work and placed that very poem on the page opposite one poem of hers that was included in Pound, the student anthology. In Black Women Writers at Work by Claudia Tate, Ms. Lorde says that my class and her Tougaloo College experience were pivotal for her. Being in her class was certainly pivotal for me. I hope to honor her by collecting the works of her first students and publishing them as a memorial to her."
Davis recently commented: "What do I use as inspiration for my poetry? Everything! I grew up in the segregated Mississippi of the 1950s and 1960s—when Medger Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner was murdered during the fight for human and civil rights, where Emmet Till was killed and mutilated, and where countless men and women were jailed and beaten trying to gain rights guaranteed by their constitution.
"At present, I am getting a book of poetry ready for publication, and I am writing more faithfully—long entries in journals that will materialize into poems. I am also closely reading and studying the Bible and using scriptures as a jumping-off point for new poems. My soul is ready, and that is why my first poetry chapbook is titled Unbuckle My Soul. I have spent the last few years tracing my family's genealogy and writing the history of my mulatto grandmother, whose ten children were sired by a wealthy white neighbor in the early 1900s. That he supported this 'outside' family, encouraged the girls to attend school, gave the boys land, and bought some of them their first cars is remarkable for the southern Mississippi of my father's youth. This research is also being used for the novel I am writing with a friend about our bizarre family histories—the story of a Catawba Indian-African American man who meets a 'mulatto' in the early 1900s.
"Finally, I am writing because two great American poets knew I could write! Whenever I called or visited poet, mentor, and soror Margaret Walker Alexander, who died in 1998, she always asked what I was writing. She prodded, encouraged, and admonished me to write, and I gratefully acknowledge that I still need her encourage-ment and that I still wrap her faith around me when I tire of the energy needed for this creative process. Dr. Alexander saw a talent I did not recognize, and I use the scripture given to me by my daughter: 'Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it' (Habakkuk 2:2) as the basis for being the poet that Audre Lorde and Margaret Walker knew I could be!"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
African American Review, fall, 2000, Lynda Hill, review of Zora Neale Hurston: An Annotated Bibliography and Reference Guide, p. 540.
Choice, September, 1998, M.F. Jones, review of Zora Neale Hurston, p. 86.
College and Research Libraries News, May, 1998, George M. Eberhart, review of Zora Neale Hurston, p. 375.
Reference and Research Book News, May, 1998, review of Zora Neale Hurston, p. 172.
Southern Quarterly, summer, 1998, Genevieve West, review of Zora Neale Hurston, p. 155.
Women's Studies International Forum, September-October, 1998, Dorothy Harris, review of Zora Neale Hurston, p. 563.