Alice Walker: "The Chicken Chronicles"
Alice Walker is an acclaimed author, poet, and Pulitzer Prize laureate. For the past several years she has cared for a flock of backyard chickens on her farm north of San Francisco. Over time this has become a source of inspiration, strength and spiritual discover for her and connected her with her southern rural roots. Walker discusses the personal discovery and the joys of relating to these animals.
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, poet and activist.
Author Extra: Alice Walker Answers Questions
Ms. Walker stayed after the show to answer a few more questions.
Q: Just six miles from Washington D.C. is the small city of Alexandria, Virginia. A movement of grassroots activists who support sustainable food are striving to convince the city council to change its code to allow backyard chickens. (Currently the city requires 150 feet from coops to property lines and very few homes have this kind of footage). What arguments for chickens would you cite as most compelling for a campaign like this? The city and particularly animal control is dragging its feet, and activists are losing hope.
- From Jill via email in Alexandria, VA
A: I live in Berkeley California much of the time. We have chickens on both sides of us and it’s wonderful to hear the hens cackle their joy every time they lay an egg! Our neighborhood had been so quiet and boring before. I wouldn’t mind hearing roosters but many people can’t go that far.
Think of having chickens in the community as a re-learning of how to coexist with nature; a way to teach our children that other beings inhabit their communities and have presence!
Send out copies of THE CHICKEN CHRONICLES! Often folks just don’t know what it is they fear.
Q: Which authors/books are you reading right now? Which authors do you particularly respect?
A: I love Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. This is novel writing at its best. I learned wonderful things about medicine from this book written by a compassionate man and an excellent surgeon.
I also recommend The Blood of Flowers by an Iranian American whose name escapes me. It is set in 7th century Persia (now Iran) and is about a young woman carpet maker.
Also excellent is The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. Everything we all need to know about immigrants from countries like India who try to make it in places like New York City.
Q: You have been a lifelong feminist, or "womanist," a term you coined. What kinds of activities or endeavors are you currently involved in to this end?
A: I just returned from a remarkable three day gathering of Womanist scholars who were studying Buddhist texts to see how Buddhism and Womanism complement each other. This is the new direction for this philosophy of self-love and love of Earth and “other.”
Read an Excerpt
Copyright © 2011 by Alice Walker. This excerpt originally appeared in The Chicken Chronicles: Sitting with the Angels Who Have Returned with My Memories: Glorious, Rufus, Gertrude Stein, Splendor, Hortensia,Agnes of God, the Gladyses, & Babe: A Memoir. Published by The New Press. Reprinted here with permission.