On April 7, 2018 in Martin, Tennessee, one of our own Blue Mountain students read her winning formal essay at the Southern Literary Festival,an annual writing conference founded in 1937 by Blue Mountain College to promote writing at southern universities.
Sarah Roberson, a senior at BMC, placed first for her essay “Black Woman Unbound in Ntozake Shange’s Cypress, Sassafras, and Indigo.” The essay will be available for reading in the 2018 publication of Mountain Breeze.
Sarah’s essay focused on the novel Cypress, Sassafras, and Indigo by Ntozake Shange. She was particularly interested in exploring Ntozake’s portrayal of the black woman as powerful, creative, and feminine. Sarah spoke in her essay about the symbolism of music and nature in the book, the compelling depictions of African American culture, and the main character’s journey to womanhood.
“I know how racism and sexism are important issues, and I like how the book dealt with these. I loved how women were portrayed as creative forces, and I love the character of Indigo.”
Sarah wrote the essay for Contemporary Literature, a course she took with Dr. Elizabeth Crews. Although she praises the book highly, Sarah did not recommend it for casual reading.
“I loved this book. I loved the author’s nontraditional style and the character of Indigo. I also loved the musical elements. It’s a good story, but you have to go into it prepared. Her writing can be shocking sometimes.”
An accomplished writer, Sarah also placed first in the short story category at the Sigma Tau Delta convention for her entry, “Dear Memories.” Although many Blue Mountain students have been chosen to read at the convention before, it is the first time a student from our chapter of Sigma Tau Delta has placed in competition.
Neither was this year Sarah’s first at the Southern Literary Festival; she has placed twice before, in both 2016 and 2017.
Sarah is currently completing her internship for a newspaper, Southern Sentinel, and was a contributor to the BMC Beacon last semester. We are proud of her accomplishments, and offer her our sincere congratulations.