RIP august wilson
playwright august wilson, a writer with an exquisite ear for black vernacular(s) and an ambitious chronicler of 20th century african-american experience, died yesterday from liver cancer at the all-too-young age of 60.
having taught wilson's fences to my highschoolers several years ago (and taken them to a performance of jitney), i had the pleasure of engaging with his work and watching young people respond to his rich language, his eye for plot and drama, and his grand sense of history.
admirers of august wilson can find some consolation in the fact that he was able to fulfill his extraordinarily ambitious goal to write a play documenting every decade of the 20th century. (he recently finished, and was able to watch a performance of, the last in the cycle, radio golf.) wilson's depiction of the toils and joys, the demons and devotions of several generations of families inhabiting the same pittsburgh neighborhood--reaching back into antebellum times and extending into the present--will no doubt prove an enduring, insightful representation of american life.
today we mourn the loss of an american poet. we give thanks for the lasting gifts he has left us.