Six Sentence Sunday, 22 April 2012 (The Reincarnations of Miss Anne)

The womb and tomb are the only authorized entrance and exit, respectively, into the condition of a slave.  In particular, no manner of self-initiated egress is recognized.  Which in plain language means: you are not to run away, and if you attempt it, punishment will be severe.  Furthermore, Canada does not exist and in any case it’s too cold.  You won’t like it there.  Trust us on this one.

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17 Responses to Six Sentence Sunday, 22 April 2012 (The Reincarnations of Miss Anne)

  1. Alix Cameron says:

    Great writing. Punchy with the perfect pace.

  2. Very poignant line: “The womb and tomb are the only authorized entrance and exit, respectively, into the condition of a slave.” And am continuing to like the tone of this directional/manual

    • epbeaumont says:

      The “Career Guide for Slaves” thread in The Reincarnations of Miss Anne began with the resonance between present-day jobs from hell and historical first-person narratives of slavery (the “exit interviews” in William Still’s Underground Railroad, Harriet Jacobs. Incidents in the LIfe of a Slave Girl, Frederick Douglass’s two autobiographies and many speeches and essays, Sojourner Truth’s oratory). The horror of slavery is that there is no way out; its legacy… far more complex than anyone really acknowledges. I think all of this was sparked by a former workmate’s reference to a friend’s low-wage coffee-shop employees as “her slaves.” Got me thinking, in a serious way.

  3. Elin Gregory says:

    Lovely rhythm! This is very satisfying to read.

  4. Sue says:

    Fell off the chair at the canada line – I live in Ontario – and two hours away closer to the US border are two – what are now tourist sites – established from the days of slavery when this part of Canada was the underground railroad. Lots of slaves took their chances to run to the land of snow – Loved your first line especially

    • epbeaumont says:

      I had so much fun writing this, too–unfortunately ‘Canada doesn’t exist’ for altogether too many in the USA.

      • Sue says:

        yeah we know – you might want to check out book of Negroes by lawrence hill – has another title in US cause the didn’t like the N word…. It’s fact fiction all rolled into one large fabulous book

  5. Jess Schira says:

    I found you’re first line to be thought provoking and the line about Canada being too cold both funny and true. Very nice job.

    • epbeaumont says:

      Actually, the runaway slaves found it so as well. See Catherine Clinton’s recent biography of Harriet Tubman for some wonderful period details. I’ve gotten quite interested in the Canadian role in the Underground Railroad, and hope to make a research trip to those parts some time in the next year or so.

  6. Vivien Dean says:

    Interesting dichotomy you’re setting up here between the topic matter and the tone. Looking forward to more.

    • epbeaumont says:

      This is one of the most interesting challenges a writer can take up. I began with corporate training manuals that cheerfully retail how many rights employees don’t have, and took them to their logical extreme. Deliberate anachronism can be an interesting way to tackle difficult historical material. (For an example in another medium and on another subject, see Peter Watkins’ film La Commune, about the Paris Commune.)

  7. Exits–unfortunately yes, for the American South. Entrances depends on the exact period–kidnaping from Africa, or even of free blacks, also existed.

    • epbeaumont says:

      Reincarnations has six different temporal tracks, including Maryland in the 1850s (after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law). The Career Guide for Slaves represents the official view, but you’re absolutely correct here, even for the 1850s. Nominally the African slave trade had been abolished (see W. E. B. DuBois, Abolition of the African Slave Trade for the unedifying details) but that didn’t mean that it had stopped.

  8. Gemma Parkes says:

    Thought provoking and well written.

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