Asenath and The Origin of Nappy Hair: Excerpts

Asenath and the Origin of Nappy Hair

Excerpt from Chapter 1: Look Homeward, Angel

November 3, 2014

It is cool and deep here. I lean out from my shelf and look at you, curious. I see the big puffs of hair on both sides of your head. Can you hear me? What do you call your hair? It’s so puffy and full. Nappy? It’s the nappiest hair in the world you say? I’m glad you can hear me and answer my questions. Eleven years old and your name is Shirah Shulamit Ojero. My name is John Milton.

Excerpt from Chapter 2: Past Prologue

November 4, 2014

“What is Past is Prologue.” Carved along the top edge of the Archives Building. Well that’s Shakespeare talking right there. I read that in my father’s Shakespeare book. Shakespeare has his own library all to himself down by the Library of Congress. The Folger Shakespeare Library. I wish I could read in there. One day I’ll go way inside. Not just in the front part but way inside, beyond the velvet ropes and the picture of Ariel. Ariel means Jerusalem, but Shakespeare makes it mean an elf or a pixie type of spirit. Names get so mixed up and changed.

Excerpt from Chapter 3: Story Caught

November 5, 2014

All those people from all over the United States think that this wonderful Capitol Building here in Washington City belongs to them, and you don’t mind, they can use it. They can visit it. They can enjoy it. But they are just visitors, this is YOUR city. You like it that everybody from everywhere uses it. But it belongs to you, you, you, you — and isn’t your city beautiful, beautiful, Oh isn’t your city just BEAUTIFUL!!!

Excerpt from Chapter 4: The StorySong of BearWolf’s March to the Library

November 6, 2014

Your mother told you about Bear-Wolf when she was combing your bushy fuzzy tangled hair. And your father said, yes, my little Bear-Wolf, your hair is thick and full and strong and nappy because all the ideas inside twist and turn and rise in circles so much that your skull can’t hold them in so they poke out through your head in beautiful naps, joyful and smart. That’s why you figure things out. Become Bear-Wolf and march up the hill, march off to find your books.

Excerpt from Chapter 5: A Versity

November 7, 2014

A VERSITY FOR THE PEOPLE like I used to say it. I used to think it was talking about poetry in Washington. A Verse City, Washington City, you see, maybe there was a time when people spelled city with an ess instead of a cee, and everybody went around the city – sity – speaking verses, poetry. The word can’t be ADVERSITY with the D fallen out. Nobody would carve the word Adversity above a beautiful city like Washington . . .

Excerpt from Chapter 6

January 24, 2015

In Asenath and the Origin of Nappy Hair, the poet John Milton remembers meeting my character, Shirah Shulamit, “How I remember our walk, you and I, hand in hand, with lingering steps and slow, from the Carnegie Library at Seventh and K, the H Street bus, Benning Road, across the Anacostia River, Kenilworth Avenue to Mayfair Mansions and Eastland Gardens and the Garden of Converging Paths in Kenilworth and then uptown to your family’s new house in the Takoma neighborhood of Washington, DC.


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Works, World, and Ways of Carolivia Herron