Best Writer 2021 | Trelani Michelle
When Trelani Michelle writes, she does her best to write to her people. That’s why she’s so close. That’s why she’s good. A friend and former mentor liked to tell him: “I don’t convince. I transmit. And that’s the best way to sum up Michelle as a writer: a people carrier; a voice not only of his generation, but of the pillars that make up the ruins of history. His history; our history. Trelani Michelle stops to read all the historical markers, research who first land belonged to, ask “where did your great-grandparents come from” and trace the roots of rhythms and flavors. Having written “Krak Teet”, an oral history of the black elders of Savannah, she refers to herself as the modern-day Zora Neale Hurston. One of his latest books, “Krak Teet: A Catalog of Black Savannah’s Biographies,” published in December 2019, delves into the parts of history that define the people of Savannah, but are often overlooked. These are the first-hand accounts of the grandchildren of slaves. She interviewed 19 African American seniors over 80 about life in the city between 1920 and 1970. She took all of those stories and memories and created a book that turned into a project that challenges the notion of black interest in literature and history. People in Savannah connected to it because it was familiar and true. “We are so much more alike than we are different,” Michelle said. “I think that’s why people resonate with it; they see themselves in it. This is the case with all the works of Michelle – “Krak Teet”, “Girls who are not afraid to curse when communicating with God”, “Women who are not afraid to curse when they communicate with God”, “Purple Petals: Letters to Self”, “Getting Across” and “What the Devil Meant for Bad” – they present a set of difficult, but relatable truths. The truths of yesterday, but somehow the familiar truths of today A sense of “darkness” in its totality beyond the stark story often told by old white men, and translated instead as a complete portrait of humanity by a young woman black woman who not only affirms the importance of Southern black culture for the sake of entertainment, but as a mode of inheritance passed down for the significance not only of her people, but of all peoples. first full story at the age of 14 at the age of 33, Michelle spent almost two decades es to documenting the veiled stories of the African Diaspora and encouraging its readers to tell their own stories, in their own language and dialect. To further this effort, she is currently working on a book that teaches others how to collect oral histories from their families, neighborhoods, churches, or an outside community that interests them. Also in the cards is a “Krak Teet” documentary and a creative hub for other women writers. “There are plenty of writers’ residences – places where writers can get away from their daily lives and be inspired to create – but they can seem quite unappealing to female writers with children and non-white female writers,” Michelle explained. “I want to create a more accessible space.” This seems to be a theme for Michell’s work: accessibility. Accessibility so that people can tell their stories, but also so that those stories are heard in a way that is accessible to anyone who wants to read or hear them. She unleashes language with literature that is so deeply her voice, but at the same time, an echo of her subjects. Her work is proof of the beautiful possibility of what can happen when fragments of conversation and memory are pieced together.
Brandy Simpkins contributed to this article.