By SARAH E. MORAN, Special to the Local News POSTED: 02/28/10, 12:01 AM EST |
EAST BRADFORD -- Writing and reading her own poetry comes naturally to Lois Moses. Louise Moses, her aunt, is a published poet. So is her father.
Now in her late 40s, the engaging and articulate Moses started writing poems at the age of 6. She has self-published three collections of poetry, "Not Just Another ... Black/Woman," "Missing Pages ... (Women Behind the Glass Door)" and "A Timely Trinity."
Recently, she received a master's in psychology from LaSalle University and, earlier, a law degree from Temple.
Not to short-shrift Moses' dual role as an educator: With husband LaMont McKim, who has a Ph.D. in organizational psychology. Moses read several of her poems and talked about the black experience from a woman's point of view before a packed house Feb. 13 at an American Association of University Woman brunch.
"It's interesting that we're still having this conversation in 2010, about what it's like to be an African-American woman in the 21st century," Moses mused during a recent conversation.
"Why am I the authority and why do I stand in front of people and talk about this? If people are interested, they should study these issues on their own - take the time and make this knowledge an inclusive part of who and what they are."
Part of Moses' avowed mission is to bring forward her voice, and the voices of other black women, especially through poetry.
"We have a lot of feelings about what we've experienced," she said. "We've sacrificed as women and much of how we've been treated historically is dehumanizing - taking care of white families and children and playing a pivotal role in the civil rights movement without getting much credit.
"My poetry is about enslavement, and giving our culture a new and powerful narration."
She describes her poetry as "empowering and declarative rather than angry and sad."
I'm a vessel of communication," she explained. "I help students with information and advice about how to avoid pitfalls and make the journey. I teach students resilience, not happiness."
She also works part-time for the U.S. Veterans Administration as a legal sub-contractor, helping vets with finances and other legal issues.
"I became interested in the law because I saw it as a way to empower women," Moses said. "But actually, I found the law more restrictive and corrective, and psychology more restorative."
She has also acted extensively, mostly with Kuntu Repertory Theater in Pittsburgh and with the National Black Author's Tour in Philadelphia. She was also an acting instructor and playwright/director at Freedom Theater in Philadelphia.
When she performs today, it's mostly with Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon, her best friend and a Temple theater professor.
One bugbear for Moses is how black women are portrayed both on stage and screen. "When I lived in LA (where she was awarded a master's in fine arts from UCLA), I was struck by how roles for African-American women were written by people who didn't understand us as individuals. The roles were so one-dimensional and stereotypical. I want to tell my own stories!"
Moses, who grew up in Mount Airy and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh, comes from a long line of college-educated people. Her mother was a long-time nursing professor at Temple before she retired recently. Her father has an advanced degree in social work and worked for the VA until his retirement.
Grandfather Stephen Moses graduated from Morris Brown College and started Seventh Street School, the first black school in Anniston, in the 1890s with his wife, Delia Brockman Moses, also a college graduate. Stephen Moses was a friend of Booker T. Washington.
She shares her family's educational lineage only because, "Too often, there are assumptions about who we are and where we came from as African-Americans. I was raised by very successful parents who exposed me to the world in a rich and varied way."
Association of Black Women in Higher Education, Inc. ABWHE PHILADELPHIA NEWSLETTER - FALL 2011/WINTER 2012 VOL 2, ISSUE 2 BEYOND SOUND & FURY: SACRIFICE AS THE TRUE POETIC VOICE - The Chapter held its first professional development and quarterly meeting of the year on September 17, 2011 at Community College of Philadelphia. Lois Moses, Esq. ( actress, and poet) conducted a presentation, titled “Beyond Sound and Fury: Sacrifice as the True Poetic Voice.” Weaving poetry and song in her lecture, the themes of the presentation were courage, freedom, and sacrifice. A practitioner of poetry or defined as a griot, Ms. Moses’ “mission is to resurrect the good and agitate where there is indifference.” It is in her role as an artist that she “was able to reconcile her liberal arts education with her art.” This reconciliation allows her to question aspects of American history such as the suicide of slaves vs. the act of revolt or rebellion. “Did the ancestors commit suicide or did they practice selective heroic courage?” In seeking courage and finding it, “we subscribe to freedom” explains Ms. Moses. “Freedom to do the work we do.” One of the poems “And they Jumped into the Water” depicted the sacrifices that slaves made by jumping off the slave ships that transported them from Africa to the United States. It depicted their incredible desire for freedom and fear of not being free. “They jumped into the Atlantic because they knew they would never be free.” The sacrifice they made to be free was the “evolution of spirit.” “To sacrifice, something has to die a little,” explains Ms. Moses. She also reminded the audience that it takes courage to give up your own myths or “things”. Ms. Moses connected courage and sacrifice with that of present day African Americans. At the end of the poem, Ms. Moses received a standing ovation. As a token of the Chapter’s appreciation of her presentation, the Chapter offered Ms. Moses an honorary membership. Moments before the Chapter could inform her of this, she stated how impressed she was with the Chapter and expressed that she was going to join!
Poetry Plus says... "Filled with passion, frustration, joy, sensuality, confusion, admiration, empathy and inspiration, Ms. Moses reflects on real issues that affect the real Black Woman. Her poetry touches the soul and sheds light on subjects that others are afraid to address. She exposes the dichotomy of a Black woman's feelings and emotions and isn't hesitant in making the love for herself as well as the "Coal Black Man" an obvious. Lois Moses knows and feels the struggle of her present and ancestral sisters so she has accepted the challenge of being a freedom writer and has taken an empathic step of inner liberation that NOT JUST ANOTHER... BLACK/WOMAN would take. Nya Patrinos' illustration provides authentic support depicting the diverse, thoughtful, meticulous and complex life of a Black woman in America." --- Poetry Plus Review—Supreme Dow
Philadelphia Inquirer says... The Multi-Faceted Lois Moses will Share Her Feelings—– excerpt from Philadelphia Daily News, April 12, 2000 Question: So how do you take poetry to the next— higher — level? Answer: For me it’s a matter of ‘bringing back,’ and honoring the legacy, but not only that [i]t’s having a dialogue with the poet warriors who still exist, using them as our teachers and studying their work… I think poetry [in some ways] has become as co-opted as we have become as a people…. Poetry is synonymous with the dialogue that we are– or are not—having as a people. As we avoid it, so does the work.
Motivational Speaking & Spoken Word Workshops & Counseling Film Production