Stitching Stories for Young Readers: Author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

0.75x 1x 1.25x 1.5x 2x 0:0000:53:30 Stitching Stories for Young Readers: Author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

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Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is a crafter, a blogger, a sewist, and the author of several children’s books, including Operation Sisterhood, It Doesn’t Take A Genius, 8th Grade Superzero, Two Naomis, Saving Earth: Climate Change and the Fight For Our Future, as well as the picture book Someday Is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins, and Mae Makes A Way: The True Story of Mae Reeves, Hat and History Maker. Her most recent release is The Sun Does Shine: An Innocent Man, A Wrongful Conviction, and the Long Path to Justice with Anthony Ray Hinton and Lara Love Hardin. She is the editor of the We Need Diverse Books anthology The Hero Next Door, and has contributed to several collections.

Lisa Woolfork

Lisa Woolfork is an associate professor of English, specializing in African American literature and culture. Her teaching and research explore Black women writers, Black identity, trauma theory and American slavery. She is the convener and founder of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. She is also the host/producer of Stitch Please, a weekly audio podcast that centers Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. In the summer of 2017, she actively resisted the white supremacist marches in her community, Charlottesville Virginia. The city became a symbol of lethal resurging white supremacist violence. #Charlottesville. She remains active in a variety of university and community initiatives, including the Community Engaged Scholars program. She believes in the power of creative liberation.

Insights from this episode:

  • Olugbemisola’s start of her sewing journey
  • Olugbemisola’s childhood and growing up with black dolls
  • How Olugbemisola is bringing dignity to black folks through her books and amplifying their voices
  • Insights on affirming black women and how they can claim their space in the world
  • The power of black creativity
  • The connection between writing and sewing
  • The process of narrating an audiobook

Quotes from the show:

  • “When you make something yourself and put that creative energy into something, it makes it even more special” -Olugbemisola in “Stitch Please”
  • “Dignity is not something you give, dignity is something you affirm. Everybody is born with dignity, everybody has it, but not everybody gets to have it affirmed” -Lisa Woolfork  in “Stitch Please”
  • “I think a lot of times the focus is on the struggle and the striving and not enough on just the beauty, creativity and the art” -Olugbemisola in “Stitch Please”
  • “You have a relationship with every book or every story that you read, and it’s a very personal relationship” -Olugbemisola in “Stitch Please”
  • “We are a people, and a people does not throw their geniuses away” -Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”
  • “Telling your own story and telling the story of your people and having those stories was just so important to me from a very young age” -Olugbemisola in “Stitch Please”
  • “Be generous with yourself, be kind to yourself, do not feel that your process has to reflect anybody else’s ” -Olugbemisola in “Stitch Please”

Resources Mentioned:

In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens

Stay Connected:

Lisa Woolfork

Instagram: Lisa Woolfork

Twitter: Lisa Woolfork

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Website: Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich 

Instagram: Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich 

Twitter: Olugbemisola 

This episode was produced and managed by Podcast Laundry.

Read Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Lisa Woolfork: The celebration of national sewing month continues on this stitch place podcast today with a talk with author Olu BI Sola Ru day Perovich thanks again to our Patreon supporters and those who are helping us reach 200 additional Patreon supporters by the end of 2022. Thank you so much for your support.
[00:00:32] Lisa Woolfork: Hello, stitchers. Welcome to stitch, please. The official podcast of black women's stitch, the sewing group, where black lives matter. I'm your host Lisa wool Fort I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast. With more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax.
[00:00:54] Lisa Woolfork: And get ready to get your stitch together. Hello [00:01:00] everybody. And welcome to the stitch please podcast. As I say every week, this is a very special episode because in this episode, I am talking with none other than Olo. Be Sola, Ruda Perovich who is a fantastic writer. Sewist crochet, knitting artist blogger, award-winning writer and author, and she is here and obsessive collector of craft books.
[00:01:28] Lisa Woolfork: I really feel like she and I are meant to be besties because we have so many things in common, including a deep and aggressive passion for books and literature at an early age. And so. So wonderful. Welcome to the program. Oli solo. Let me tell y'all a little bit about her. She is the author of several children's books, including operation sisterhood.
[00:01:51] Lisa Woolfork: It doesn't take a genius, a Kirk best book of the year. She wrote also eighth grade superhero and Amazon best book of the month, a [00:02:00] notable book for the global society by the international reading Associa. And a notable social studies trade book for young people by the national council of social studies.
[00:02:10] Lisa Woolfork: Honestly, there's also a wonderful book. She co-authored called the two Naomi's, which features two protagonists. These girls both have the same name. Naomi one is black. One is white and they're dealing with parallel issues and that was nominated for an NAAC. Image award her book, saving earth, climate change, and the fight for our future was a junior library, Guild selection, as well as her picture book someday is now Kara Looper and the 1958 Oklahoma city sit-ins, which was a notable social studies trade book for young people again by the national council for the social.
[00:02:48] Lisa Woolfork: The book that I most recently read by her is may makes a way. And this is the true story of may Reeve's hat and history maker. And she worked with may Reeve's [00:03:00] daughter, as well as with Andrea Pippins, the fantastic illustrator. So I listened to the book on audible, which while it did not have any illustrations beyond the cover, it did have old BI so's beautiful voice.
[00:03:14] Lisa Woolfork: Narrat. Y'all she read that story just to me. And maybe if you get it on audible, she will read it to you as well. She's also the author of her most recent release. The son does shine an innocent man, a wrongful conviction in the long path to justice. This is the young reader's edition and she has coming up an easy reader series called Nikita.
[00:03:35] Lisa Woolfork: She is the editor of, we need diverse book anthology. The hero next door she's contributed to several collections. We rise. We resist, we raise our voices. The journey is everything. Teaching essays that students want to write for people who want to read them. Hello, let us indeed teach people how to write things.
[00:03:54] Lisa Woolfork: Other folks will want to read. That will pretty much block out most academic writing because that's where we learn to [00:04:00] write things that nobody. Wants to read, accept each other. and then finally, she's also the author of, imagine it better vision of what school might be, which was edited by Luke Reynolds and break these rules.
[00:04:14] Lisa Woolfork: Five young adult authors on speaking up, standing out and being your self. Listen, I feel like the episode is over now and that I should thank everybody for coming to this stitch please podcast today. And that you should just, I will put some Google links in the notes and y'all just go. Then we could come back.
[00:04:31] Lisa Woolfork: No, no, no. I guess she's here now. We'll go ahead and keep talking. She is an award-winning. And in addition to this, she is a crafter, a blogger, a sewist, and does all manner of wonderful things. So all of them, Sola, thank you so much for bringing all of the things that I just described. Thank you so much for all that you do.
[00:04:53] Lisa Woolfork: And for spending some of that time today with me, for the stitch police podcast, because clearly you busy girl, you have [00:05:00] so much stuff going on. It's like, who has talents to hand kicky with me? I
[00:05:03] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: definitely do. I have all the time in the world. Thank you so much, Lisa, because I'm here as all of those things you said, but I'm mostly here as a fan.
[00:05:12] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I love this podcast. So. It gets me through so many days of writing and struggling with writing and taking my breaks to knit or so, or do some embroidery. So thank you.
[00:05:24] Lisa Woolfork: Thank you. Well, thank you so much for being here and thank you for your kind words. We appreciate the support let's get started with what was the start of your sewing story?
[00:05:33] Lisa Woolfork: I tend to ask folks, where does your sew. Story begin. And I remember reading that you were a very avid reader as a child, and I wonder if the way that you talk about learning stories as a young child related at all to other aspects of your creativity. So I guess the first question is how would you describe your sewing story?
[00:05:51] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: My song story is very much linked to my mom, my grandmother, her mother, and my auntie, my grandmothers [00:06:00] sisters, and the way that both storytelling and making particularly stitching. Were just a part of our lives were things that I always saw them doing, that they taught my sister and I to do at a very young age.
[00:06:17] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I can just think back and remember sitting next to my grandmother and doing needlepoint, both my mother and grandmother had one of those really. Old old singers that you had the like little petal that you use and
[00:06:28] Lisa Woolfork: like the treadle, the treadle that would go up and down mm-hmm .
[00:06:31] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: Yes, exactly. My grandmother and my grandfather, actually, he worked as a tailor for a while. Grandparents were from Jamaica. My mom was from Jamaica. My grandparents were like that stereotype, that joke from, in living color, we like, I have 13
[00:06:42] Lisa Woolfork: jobs. Yes. More than one job. Exactly. It's like what? I mean, you only have two jobs. You lazy Lima being just the two jobs.
[00:06:48] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: So, yes, my grandparents came here and did all mannered jobs.
[00:06:52] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: And so my grandfather was a tailored for a while. And my grandmother also like they would make the most incredible, incredible [00:07:00] tailored clothing, especially for special occasions. I could remember times like waiting at the bottom of the stairs, my grandmother to come down when she would get all dressed up and something she had.
[00:07:09] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: To go out with something special. And she was a tall woman, she was five 11 mm-hmm and she would put on those things and hold herself up in this different way. And I always connected that idea that when you make something yourself and that when you put that creative energy into something, it makes it even more special.
[00:07:26] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I brought the show you.
[00:07:28] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. Oh, look at these little dolls. Oh my goodness. Who are these sweet little creatures
[00:07:32] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I will have from when I was very young.
[00:07:35] Lisa Woolfork: Did you make these,
[00:07:37] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: my. Grandmother mom and auntie used to make these dolls for my sister and I they're spiffy and Tylenol, or these two names.
[00:07:45] Lisa Woolfork: spiffy and Tylenol. Did you name these dolls yourself by any chance? Yes.
[00:07:51] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: And they all had varicose vein. And so they had those support hose that were like super durable. I mean, these are still from the early [00:08:00] seventies.
[00:08:00] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. They're still kicking . They're still Tylenol are gonna outlive us all. Exactly. And
[00:08:06] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: they would make these dolls because they could make them in brown shades at that time, at least in this country. It was so hard to find black dolls. There was a time actually, we traveled a lot when I was a kid and we traveled to Italy and I remember this one trip where we walked by this toy store and there was just a wall of black dolls. Wow. And my sister and I were just like amazed. Wow. Because by that point, most of my dolls were homemade and handmade.
[00:08:34] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: We were only allowed to have black doll.
[00:08:36] Lisa Woolfork: That's so smart.
[00:08:37] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: And I was listening to, I think that was the last episode.
[00:08:40] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. Cinnamon enemy step stitches. Yes. Yeah.
[00:08:43] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I was relating to a lot of what she said about that. Like, so we were only allowed to have black dolls, so they made us dolls. I learned to be proud of that and to be happy about that and to celebrate that.
[00:08:54] Lisa Woolfork: Yes, I really love that. And I really appreciate your [00:09:00] explanation that in your family, you were only allowed to have black dolls because at least in my mind, I'd love to hear, of course your thoughts it's actually your life. So you know, better than I, but what I think you might agree with is that dolls can sometimes be a child's first mirror.
[00:09:16] Lisa Woolfork: In the same way that a child mirrors themselves off their parents, it feels really important to populate a black child's early imagination with popular and loving memories and reflections of themselves. Yes. Right. And so I could imagine somebody right now thinking, well, I don't know what that's such a good idea.
[00:09:37] Lisa Woolfork: I think that people should not learn to see color then I'm like, why are you looking into this podcast? It's still true. Know what we do here? like, who. There is no child in America who is not gonna know who and what white people are exactly. Right? Like that's just not something that gets allowed. If you go to the grocery store, you will see a million zillion white children on cereal boxes.
[00:09:55] Lisa Woolfork: There is no surface or lack of information about whiteness and white [00:10:00] folks. And what is healthy? Good sense of one own self image is to be able to say, Hey, I am infinite. I can be a little tiny doll made of support hose, or I can be a really elaborate doll like made by Stephanie Dean, who does the rag dolls for cinnamon, Annie.
[00:10:19] Lisa Woolfork: And I think that toys and play are some of the earliest things to open up a child's imagination. Absolutely.
[00:10:26] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: And to be able to imagine yourself into other worlds and to other stories and to be able to play that way was so important. And I took it as a given, so I wasn't even feeling like I was being deprived of something.
[00:10:40] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I was feeling like I was being affirmed. I had a little girl come over once. I'll never forget how she came. And we were playing Barbies at that time. There was Malibu Christie who was like Barbie black
[00:10:50] Lisa Woolfork: friend. Yes. I remember Malibu Christie, Barbie's black friend. I had a Malibu Christie didn't she have a very weird tan line.
[00:10:57] Lisa Woolfork: The thing about the Malibu dolls is that they all had [00:11:00] tan lines that you could take off their clothes. And they were lighter skinned underneath because they lived at the beach. Christie had some tan lines too. Didn't she? She
[00:11:07] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: had some odd
[00:11:08] Lisa Woolfork: coloring. Yeah. Yeah. but so you were playing with your friend, y'all playing with Barbies and Christie's my friend
[00:11:14] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: who was a black girl was sort of like, well, where are the white dolls?
[00:11:18] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: So she didn't wanna. Because I didn't have any white dolls for her to play with. I felt so sad for like
[00:11:24] Lisa Woolfork: what, like, you know, oh my gosh, I love that so much. Just keep going, keep going.
[00:11:29] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I felt so sad for her between that. And then the time that someone brought a little white doll over to me as a gift over to the house as a gift, and I opened the doll, I didn't even talk to my parents.
[00:11:40] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I opened the doll and I was kind of like, whoa, whoa, whoa. I don't know what to do with this. And I buried her in the backyard.
[00:11:46] Lisa Woolfork: like, I
[00:11:48] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: was just like, well, there's nothing for me to do with
[00:11:50] Lisa Woolfork: this. rest in peace, Barbie, rest in peace, white Barbie, rest in peace, or just rest go say, cause I'm not gonna play with you.
[00:11:58] Lisa Woolfork: And I don't wanna seem like I'm [00:12:00] being ungrateful, but I absolutely am not grateful. And I do not want this. And I'm a kid. It's not like I can drive it back to the store and replace it for the black one. I want. So my child imagination is like, you know what? We're just gonna put this somewhere. I thought you were gonna say, I buried her in the back of my closet.
[00:12:16] Lisa Woolfork: Oh no, no. Olu members Hola is like, oh no, no, the closet is not a, I don't want her in my house. She's gonna have to go out into the yard, like, gosh, but what I love about what you're describing is other children would be like, oh no, my friend didn't wanna play with me. Therefore, something is wrong with my.
[00:12:35] Lisa Woolfork: But what you, by that early age had realized that a black girl choosing and preferring a white doll was a sad choice for the black child. You were absolutely not gonna say, well, maybe I should do what she does. Maybe I should have more whiteness around in my house. Because by that point, that reserve of your affirmed dignity, there's a wonderful [00:13:00] quote in a book called.
[00:13:01] Lisa Woolfork: This here, flesh. I love that book and Cole, Riley. She was talking before about how she was trying to do like missionary work or whatever, and give people dignity. And that's when she stopped and was like, wait a minute. She realized that dignity is not something you give. Exactly. Dignity is something you affirm.
[00:13:21] Lisa Woolfork: Everybody is born with dignity. Everybody has it, but not everybody gets to have it. And so you already had the dignity of yourself, of your blackness affirm. And it was so resolute that if someone gave you a white doll and was gonna say, well, your toys are somehow inadequate because they're not white.
[00:13:44] Lisa Woolfork: You knew enough to say no, no, no, hun, you. Are inadequate and I am sad for you. I'm sad. Yeah. I'm sad for you. I mean, I did have one child feeling sorry for another child because that child did not embrace their blackness. I grew up, I think around the [00:14:00] same time you did in the early seventies, man, we would, black was an insult.
[00:14:04] Lisa Woolfork: All of us is black. Okay. Black city, black town, black neighborhood, black street, black schools, all. Man, please, you call somebody black. They wanna throw blows. Like what, who you calling black? I ain't black bitch. We all black, but you know what I'm saying? It's just this idea of this internalized of course it's teasing in the dozens and all of that stuff, but it's just very interesting to me.
[00:14:26] Lisa Woolfork: And I just find that so affirming and that's something I also see in your writing, this idea of affirming the dignity of blackness and black children at every turn of black folks at every turn. Really beautiful to see. And what are the quotes you mentioned? I think you talked about this and I think I heard a little bit of it.
[00:14:44] Lisa Woolfork: We talked about your grandma, other family members and aunties coming down the stairs and their homemade worked. They're just beautiful gowns. I was thinking about the phrase you used. Clothed in dignity. I think you used that phrase clothed in dignity. Can you talk a [00:15:00] little bit about what that means?
[00:15:01] Lisa Woolfork: What sewing, what creating something that is just for you kind of gave to yourself or the other women in your family? Like in what ways does sewing and creativity become a way to affirm?
[00:15:16] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: That was really what first attracted me to the may makes and wave project. That was what may Reeves did when I went to the Smithsonian museum of African American history and culture and saw this huge exhibit for this woman whose name I had not known before.
[00:15:33] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I mean, bigger than some of the celebrities, who's very well known. Her stores recreated. They have these showstopper hats that she made at least this incredible artistry and thinking about her story as I. Writing the book and talking to Donna and thinking about someone saying to me like, well, she wasn't really an activist or like she was kind of an activist, but she wasn't really an activist.
[00:15:55] Lisa Woolfork: What does really an activist mean? Yeah, that's the whole thing. I really do know. That'll be a separate [00:16:00] question for another time,
[00:16:01] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: but I really wanted to celebrate. And sort of amplify what it meant that she created this works of art for all women, but for black women to be cloth and dignity for black women to be seen at a time when people didn't wanna see them at a time when people really wanted to push them aside, she was creating things and saying like, This is going to be for you.
[00:16:28] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: It's gonna be made just for you to shine because you deserve to shine just like any other woman deserves to shine. And that is so radical to me, such a form of activism. She did do other things in her community and with voting, but that to me
[00:16:45] Lisa Woolfork: was such a big deal. I really liked how you talked about how she.
[00:16:48] Lisa Woolfork: Kids on trips, took them places, took them to go to the park or took them to the pool and then taking her daughter to Paris and all of these places, the idea of black mobility during [00:17:00] and before Jim Crow. Yes. That's a big deal
[00:17:04] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: and clearing
[00:17:05] Lisa Woolfork: space in the world. Claiming space in the world and not in a way that is humble, but in a way that's meant to stand out because that's what hats do.
[00:17:15] Lisa Woolfork: And I love how you were quoting her, that you're never fully dressed unless you have a hat. It makes me think about the ways in which church hats have been described as our crowds crown. And of all the things that white folks want to Columbus and gentrify. I mean, I saw this one video, the other day of a white must have been a white Pentecostal type church.
[00:17:37] Lisa Woolfork: And they were doing a worship style that was similar with tambourines in the same gospel music, recounting a black gospel song, but it was all white congregation. And someone was like, wow, look at all of our influence. And I. Why do y'all celebrate stuff like this? That's what I would like to know because these folks want everything.
[00:17:54] Lisa Woolfork: But the burden, I already saw somebody talking about sleep caps and I'm like, wait, [00:18:00] are we letting white folks gentrify bonnets now? Oh no, they columns and protective styles. Another thing, protective styles, stop it. Just do your own thing. Why is not being in the dominant culture enough? Why do you have to have the first prize and the constellation prize?
[00:18:16] Lisa Woolfork: And it's just, it's amazing
[00:18:18] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: to me. It's funny. Cause I think about when I was a kid and I used to re like I read everything and I read really widely. Yes. I, I read a lot of Jane Austin at one stage. Like I love Jane Austin. And they would always talk about, uh, being an accomplished woman and the accomplished women.
[00:18:34] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: They could like sew a little, they could play a little music, they could do all these things. So I was like, oh, I that's what I wanna be. I wanna be able to do all these things like from a very young age. And then it was later on that I realized like, wait a minute, these women in my life, these women in my family, these women in my community they're accomplished.
[00:18:51] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: Women's right. They're incredibly
[00:18:53] Lisa Woolfork: creative.
[00:18:54] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: They have with ingenuity, they're doing all of these things and that sort of making a way out of no way and [00:19:00] like may read. Yes. I think a lot of times the focus is on sort of like the struggle and the striving. Exactly. And not. Enough, um, just the beauty and the creativity
[00:19:12] Lisa Woolfork: and the art.
[00:19:14] Lisa Woolfork: And I see it in the same way that these essay, I was gonna say that it's the next thing, you know, they're gonna be gentrifying church hats, and we'll be seeing like a parade on fashion week of look everybody. Have you ever thought about wearing a fancy hat? Like stop it, but one of the things I think is useful thinking about the work of Jane Austin and how her writing was about upper.
[00:19:35] Lisa Woolfork: Class white folks. So for them to be accomplished didn't necessarily require labor. It was about knowing the fine art, being able to play piano, to be well read, but not too well read to be an intellectual, to be off putting to men. It's a very narrow frame of what they are even allowed to accomplish. And yet, when you think about your mother, your grandmother, or my mother, my grandmother, [00:20:00] all of the things they did.
[00:20:01] Lisa Woolfork: And do within the frame, not of the leisure class, which Jane Austin wrote about, but black folks were not in the leisure class. And so it seemed so even more radical and more to celebrate and recognize. The power of black creativity and how this becomes a way to transcend the boundaries that the state wants to put on our lap, because that's what Jim Crow was.
[00:20:26] Lisa Woolfork: Jim Crow was a state boundary put in place to keep black people separate and down the question of MA's work, just flourishing. In that context just feels so
[00:20:39] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: powerful, just so powerful and her just doing it on her terms. So it was like if you came into her stores, black women, white women, everybody wanted her work.
[00:20:48] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: So if you came into her store, you were there with whoever was there and white people had to sit down together and deal with it. You had to be respectful to each other. You had to engage with each other. And so that was a radical space that she created. [00:21:00]
[00:21:01] Lisa Woolfork: And it wasn't gonna be the case that, okay, well, I will only have my white patrons during this time and I will only have my black patrons during this time because I don't want anyone else to feel uncomfortable, you know?
[00:21:12] Lisa Woolfork: And it's like, I don't know. I, I think you're absolutely right about that. I also loved how, when the hats started to decline in the dominant culture, you talk about how it was black women and the church hats that really kept her business alive because they always wanted something for Sunday. Can you talk a little bit about.
[00:21:35] Lisa Woolfork: See in black women accessorizing with these lovely hats, unique offerings. Cause when you make someone a hat, even if you make two the same, which I don't think she did a whole lot. No. Even if you make two the same, they're going to be different and unique. Why do you think that the church hat has become such a staple of black sartorial worship [00:22:00] creativity?
[00:22:00] Lisa Woolfork: Why the hat as opposed to maybe gloves or. Or bags, there's something about the hat that seems really powerful. Like
[00:22:08] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: a crown, I think about even like Nigerian gall, it is a crown, even just the act of putting something on your head, that affirmation of your identity and it just being,
[00:22:19] Lisa Woolfork: you, you, you, you,
[00:22:21] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: and like with may Reeves, you made each hat for the person that it belonged to.
[00:22:27] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I think also sort of having that as a church thing, because church was also a space of re. And a space of joy and a space of claiming freedom and liberation. And so it was putting on your crown and walking into this space. Where you were going to be free and you were going to claim that freedom and speak that freedom, no
[00:22:50] Lisa Woolfork: matter what, I really love it.
[00:22:52] Lisa Woolfork: And it just reminds me going back to your phrase earlier about being clothed in dignity. Like when you put the hat [00:23:00] on, that is the seal or the chef's kiss to the dignity. And also you will notice this. You will notice this. You will see me. I am not shrinking back. I am. And also when you wearing a hat, you can't wear a hat and hold your head down.
[00:23:14] Lisa Woolfork: Yeah. Like with a gala, you cannot have a gala on and like, and be all. Yeah. Have your chin tucked under your chest. You can't do it because the gala will probably fall down. It requires some neck strength to hold it up. And I think that that's another ways it feels like it makes you have your shoulders
[00:23:31] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: squared shoulder square.
[00:23:32] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. It really just changes your whole posture or your whole disposition either that may. Created so many things that affirmed the dignity that when you put on a may Reeves hat, you wanted to stand up straighter. You wanted to hold your head even higher because you were wearing her art and that affirmed the dignity and the art that is your life.
[00:23:57] Lisa Woolfork: I just love that. I would love for you to tell me [00:24:00] about the book. I've never written the children's book. And so when you're creating the illustrations or working with an illustrator, like how does that process go? I'm a huge audio book fan. So you have got to tell me what it was like to record an audio book.
[00:24:13] Lisa Woolfork: Oh, the book when you read it, it was not that long. Let me 15 minutes. It's not a long listen because it's not a long. But it's so wonderful as I was listening, I was like, like, it was like breath of fresh air throughout. Whenever you went from one pivot point to the next pivot point, even the way you talked about the racism that she dealt with, you did a wonderful job of like, explaining that in a way that I think young readers could appreciate.
[00:24:39] Lisa Woolfork: So can you talk a little bit about that process? What was it like to work with may Reeve's daughter on the. Work with the skilled and famed illustrator, Andrea pips. That's also wonderful. Thank you.
[00:24:49] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: Yeah. So first working with Donna Limerick May's daughter was incredible. Sometimes publishers are just sort of rushed or very focused on just [00:25:00] a product.
[00:25:01] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: In this case, I was really fortunate that the publisher was interested in the process and respectful of may and her legacy. And her daughter, Donna, who had really given that creation, that collection to the museum. And so my editor PVA connected me with Donna Limerick and I got to meet Donna in the beginning when I went to the exhibit.
[00:25:23] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: So it was just so much fun to be sort of watching the videos in the exhibit and seeing Donna. And then Donna's also right there next to me. And. Then getting to talk to her over a few months about just working with her mom about being in the store about even just being a little girl who was kind of like, why do all these other people call my mother mama?
[00:25:42] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: And why are they all calling her mama ma and she my
[00:25:45] Lisa Woolfork: mom, exactly. I don't like all this sharing unexpected to do. And then
[00:25:50] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: like talking about those trips that she took to Paris and to new. I felt like I could see a lot of Donna went on to become a documentary producer, [00:26:00] seeing how the work that she did with her mom and what her mom taught her just by the way that they lived, helped her create narratives and create stories.
[00:26:10] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: And that was really, really special. And then when I found out that they got Andrea Pippins for the art, I was over the moon because her work is incredible. It's so dynamic. So loving there's some spreads in this book, like every page I'm like, oh, I want that to be a poster. I want that to be a poster. I want that to be
[00:26:30] Lisa Woolfork: This is a book of posters now. and note cards exactly. At like
[00:26:36] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: her attention to detail went thirds up page with like the math where she's like depicting the great migration, the pages when she's showing. Dressing Donna. And like, she's like a little girl and like putting the pearls, cuz Donna talked about how me would make her put on like this black dress and pearls when she worked in the store and Andrea's art is just the whole process really brought me back and made me [00:27:00] think again of my mom and my grandmother.
[00:27:02] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I had all of my grandmother's gloves to my grandmother used to also always wear hats and gloves. So I had. All of those long gloves that she used to wear when she got dress up. Wow. And just really have a new appreciation for those creative ways, sort of big and small that black women did just that affirm their dignity
[00:27:23] Lisa Woolfork: and say like, you will see me.
[00:27:25] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I am here going to claim my space. I'm going to stand up. I think about my grandmother making me walk with
[00:27:32] Lisa Woolfork: books on my head when I for that posture. Yeah. It's like, you gotta make sure that walk is worthy of a hat girl. Come on. Let's get those books on that head.
[00:27:40] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: It really reminded me to value that, to cherish that.
[00:27:44] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: And I really wanted this story to help young readers. Value that history and bring it with them. Cause I feel like that's just for the books and what stories you really want. I like to think about reading, remembering and remixing.
[00:27:59] Lisa Woolfork: Hey friends. Hey, [00:28:00] I wanted to share a little bit about the abundance of the stitch please podcast.
[00:28:03] Lisa Woolfork: The growth of the podcast has been so exponential that the work has exceeded what I am able to do. And this is where you come in to retain the joy practice and the liberatory vision of the podcast, and to not have it reproduced capital extraction and overwhelm. I am recalibrating the black women's dish Patreon for increased sustained financial support.
[00:28:27] Lisa Woolfork: You can find links to the black women's ditch Patreon in the show. And be on the lookout for more information as the recalibration unfolds. And thank you for your support
[00:28:41] Lisa Woolfork: reading, remembering, and remixing. That's beautiful. Say more about that. You have
[00:28:46] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: a relationship with every book or every story that you read, and it's a very personal relat. There are things that are shared and that you can talk about, but there are things that you bring from your own life and from your own memory and that then you live out even [00:29:00] without realizing it, sometimes that you bring into your world and into your life, into what you give to the world.
[00:29:06] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: And so I hope that reading about may or reading about the kid, I always write about kids who are makers and kids who are creative. Just like reading about those kids. One can help readers connect with that legacy and those traditions in their past, because we all have that. Yes. And also bring it into their present, bring it into their like, oh, you know what?
[00:29:29] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I can imagine myself in all these different worlds,
[00:29:32] Lisa Woolfork: I can make a
[00:29:34] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: way out of whatever way I'm in. Now I can do this. I can be this. I can dream.
[00:29:40] Lisa Woolfork: And that is what I believe you are doing with your writing. You are creating possibility models for so many young readers, which is especially powerful for young black readers, but essentially also necessary knowledge for all young readers.
[00:29:55] Lisa Woolfork: And so I really appreciate that. And it reminds me of when you were talking about [00:30:00] Donna and her mild irritation, or maybe more at being feeling she has to share her mom, it reminds me something that I saw quoted from Wende and Brooks on your page about how we are each other's harvest. That's one of my favorite.
[00:30:12] Lisa Woolfork: We are each other's business. This doesn't mean that we are necessarily being nosy or inquisitive or picking or anything like that, but that we are interconnected. And it reminds me of what Alice Walker said about Zora Neil Hurston in Sarge VA mother's gardens. When she said we are a people. And a people do not throw their geniuses away.
[00:30:37] Lisa Woolfork: A people do a people does not throw their geniuses away. What she was talking about was Zor ne Hurston. And I know a lot of folks know Hurston. Now, one of the reasons, you know, Zor ne Hurston is because Alice Walker refused to let Hutten die in obscurity or remain in obscurity as famous as I believe, an influential as Hutten is that this woman died pen.
[00:30:59] Lisa Woolfork: [00:31:00] In an unmarked grave in Fort Pierce, Florida. And it was Alice Walker who put a headstone there who took her book. They were MI not even a photocopy, not even a zero. They were mimeograph copies of her books so that other black women scholars like my mentor and Nellie McKay and other folks in the early seventies who helped to create African American literary studies.
[00:31:23] Lisa Woolfork: That's the only reason we know them because they pulled. Out of the obscurity with which the dominant culture would have resigned them. My
[00:31:32] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: mother, when I was in high school, gave me their eyes, were watching God to read and I was just blown away, loved and loved it, loved it so much. And so I went to the school library at the school I wasn't at the time and looking for more.
[00:31:46] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: So I asked, I'm looking for more books by Z ne hurs. And that school librarian, she was like, who? And like, you know, I said it a few more times and then she was like, there's no such person. You
[00:31:55] Lisa Woolfork: are lying. So you are lying. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, [00:32:00] wait, wait, wait, wait, do you remember how old you were? Do you remember what grade you were in when this happened?
[00:32:04] Lisa Woolfork: I wanna stay,
[00:32:06] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I was maybe 10th grade high school. I
[00:32:10] Lisa Woolfork: was in high school. You were in high school and I'm guessing you were in high school. Maybe around the time I was in high school, like mid eighties, eighties. There was a human person who was also a librarian was librarian who told you not, I don't know, but let me look and see, you know, what?
[00:32:28] Lisa Woolfork: We don't have anything by that writer, but you know, give me some time or, you know, what would be really good Sola. You are really good at research. How about you and your English teacher work together to do a project on finding out more about this. Instead that bitch went to Zora. Neil Kirsten does not exist.
[00:32:50] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: There is no such person. I will never forget that there
[00:32:53] Lisa Woolfork: is no such. Person. Why is my blood boiling? I know why, because my specialty is [00:33:00] African American literature and culture, and I teach black women writers. And for the last 20 years, I have taught a Zora Hurston work, usually their eyes, but also some short stories every year for the last 20 to a generation of student.
[00:33:16] Lisa Woolfork: Except that apparently, according to this white lady,
[00:33:18] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I'm just guessing she's a white lady. I could be wrong. Oh no. Yeah. She was definitely a white lady. Zor,
[00:33:22] Lisa Woolfork: Hera doesn't exist. How, but how, how, how do you say something like that? I mean, it's one thing. Why can't people just say, I don't know. I don't know.
[00:33:31] Lisa Woolfork: Just because you don't know doesn't mean that this is knowledge that is unknown by anyone in the. And that's what I call. I didn't create this term, which was SP Southern poverty law center, curricular violence. Yes. That is curricular violence is the kind of violence that happens all the time to black kids in school.
[00:33:50] Lisa Woolfork: Perhaps it also happens to other minority or marginalized identities, but it absolutely happens to black kids who are told things. We are going to skip [00:34:00] the chapter on Africa in world history, because it's not that important. All of these things, the only black history there is is Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther king Jr.
[00:34:09] Lisa Woolfork: That's the only black history that exists. And half of it is from white man. Go figure. Wow. There is
[00:34:15] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: no such person. There is no such person. And I was fortunate to have had the foundation that I had. And the family that I had. Did you show her a book? I brought a book back cause I went home and my mom, I told my mom, my mom was like, do I need to come in there?
[00:34:29] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I was like, no, mom, I got this. So I brought the book back. I did do a research paper on OZO and Heron and I brought her a copy of the paper when I was done. She was very. Grumpy,
[00:34:39] Lisa Woolfork: you know, grumpy old lady. Well, I guess you'd done made up a person. I guess she spent all this time making up a whole person. I don't know why you would call her that.
[00:34:46] Lisa Woolfork: Why couldn't you call her something different if you gonna make up a person? I think even then, like I
[00:34:50] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: always thought that I would be a writer from a very, very young age. We were not allowed to watch very much television mm-hmm so I would read, I would listen to my friends, [00:35:00] talk about the shows that they watch and I would come home and make little books and write little stories from my.
[00:35:05] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: But telling your all story and telling the story of your people was having those stories was just so important to me from a very, very, very young age. And again, with that librarian, I just felt, it was just like, wow, like you're a
[00:35:20] Lisa Woolfork: librarian. How am I in 10th grade? And you are a whole entire adult with a career in library studies.
[00:35:27] Lisa Woolfork: And we'll just say, there is no such person. And that means
[00:35:31] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: she doesn't even know this beautiful, incredible. The story, like it was so, so sad, but that regular violence happened every day and still happens to our kids. Yes. It's every single day. And I think for me, and for so many writers, I work with an organization called the brown bookshelf.
[00:35:47] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: And so much of what we do is we wanna amplify and shit. Cause we have many stories. We have like, people have all kinds of
[00:35:55] Lisa Woolfork: stories. Listen, I got a whole. I mean, and so do lots of other people [00:36:00] have whole PhDs where all we do is talk about black people. Exactly. exactly. We have all
[00:36:06] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: kinds of stories and all kinds of narratives and all kinds of ways that we tell them.
[00:36:11] Lisa Woolfork: It's just so important
[00:36:12] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: to me that our young people. Have access to them. Our young people can draw from them that our young people can create their own stories, knowing that they have that foundation.
[00:36:24] Lisa Woolfork: I absolutely agree. And I wanna turn a little bit to the parallels that you see between writing and sewing or writing and.
[00:36:32] Lisa Woolfork: Stitching last year, Rita dove, who was the poet, Lori of the United States. She was on a podcast last year. She's wonderful. She's really great. And I was asking her about the connections, if any, between building a poem and sewing, and she made some connections with. Pacing and about the line and about tension.
[00:36:52] Lisa Woolfork: Similarly, I talked with Christine Mays who was a sculptor, but her sculptures looked like stitched dresses, [00:37:00] just the outside metal forms. And so she does a lot of stitching with metal and rebar. It's very, very cool. And so she also talked about tension. I'm wondering if there's some ways for you that your sewing life, your crochet life, your crafting life, the life that you did when you were blogging.
[00:37:17] Lisa Woolfork: Or really heavy into the knitting and sewing space. Do you see any parallels or lessons that can happen between the creative art of sewing and stitching and what it means to compose or write a novel or write a sentence? You know, it's funny.
[00:37:33] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I taught this online class a few years ago, more than a few years ago.
[00:37:37] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: Now that was called mothering as a creative act. And it was really just about exploring the way that the things that are a part of what we might call mothering that anyone can do. People who are biological mothers, fathers, uncles, odds, community members, right? It's about care. It's about care and about how it can feed [00:38:00] your creativity.
[00:38:01] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: As opposed to a lot of times it's talked about as something that takes away from your creativity.
[00:38:05] Lisa Woolfork: Mm that's right. It'll drain you. It's tiring as if it's a punishment. Cetera, cetera. Yeah. Part
[00:38:11] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: of, I would say my most prolific crafty time was when I was first a mother. That was also a time when I wrote my first novel
[00:38:21] Lisa Woolfork: in a really compressed amount of time, just to be clear y'all it was a week , she's saying a really compressed amount of time.
[00:38:28] Lisa Woolfork: I don't want you to think that it was a month. She wrote her first novel in a week. That is a w E E K, which many of us understand as a period of seven days. So continue,
[00:38:38] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: go ahead. Which I do not recommend, I made myself sick, but it was like, I had this opportunity and I could not let it. But I think there were a lot of reasons why all of those things were happening at that time.
[00:38:49] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: You know, in grad school, I was studying educational technology and English education and cognitive science. I really was drawn to this idea of the active writing as problem [00:39:00] solving and oh, writing being sort of like taking a ill defined problem and trying to make sense of things. And. So much of what writing is to me.
[00:39:09] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: Like it's like taking all these things that are in my head or questions or things I see, or just things in the world and then create a narrative, figure them out and maybe ask more questions, maybe find one answer or two answers, but really end up with more questions. And so that is also kind of the way I make the way I'm a maker.
[00:39:28] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: They feed each other because a lot of times, and the same thing with my cooking, I might have a lot of ideas might draw from all of those craft books and all of those cookbooks and think about all of those things. And don't exactly follow the pattern. I don't exactly follow the recipe. I think like, Oh, I see this recipe.
[00:39:48] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: And also, I remember when Nana used to be in the kitchen and she would always add a little of this and a little of that. And I wonder thinking about these flavors, how might they go well together? I think that would [00:40:00] go well together. Or I read in a book. I used to read like a lot of these British family stories.
[00:40:05] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: Mm-hmm and the kids would be doing all these fun, creative. That I would then not so much write myself into their story, but sort of use it as a jumping off point to think. Okay. I know that joy and I know that sense of fun in my
[00:40:22] Lisa Woolfork: world and in
[00:40:23] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: my community. How do I wanna tell that story? How do I want to see those stories?
[00:40:30] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: In my world and in my community. So that problem solving aspect of it is a big part of both my writing and my making and appreciating the process. So for me, writing like a book is never, ever finished for me. So even after it's published and I'm reading it. If I'm doing like a read aloud, I make changes like while I'm reading aloud, because I'm still just, I don't like that in the moment.
[00:40:51] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I'll think of, I wish I had said it this way or done
[00:40:54] something
[00:40:54] Lisa Woolfork: differently. And so if you're reading, you'll just change it. I'll just
[00:40:57] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: change it as I'm reading aloud. Yeah. And with my [00:41:00] making, especially lately, I used to just try to finish a lot of projects. Have a lot of things done. I would make a lot of toys.
[00:41:06] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I would knit hats, incessantly, but I've learned to appreciate the process. So now it feels like an excuse. Cause I have just a lot of works through progress all over the compartment. Just this barely done embroidery here. Oh wow. That's gotta be nice. I've been trying to figure out this one yard shirt thing.
[00:41:23] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I can't really the whole thing, but I've been trying to figure out this one yard shirt pattern and appreciate the, figuring it out.
[00:41:28] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. The process, the process,
[00:41:31] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: as I'm also figuring out the process of writing as a part of the process of writing a story, always working with my hands can spark something about a story.
[00:41:42] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: Last week, I was really struggling with a few manuscripts and really having that I give up feeling. And I had to just stop writing and I was knitting and I was just going through my craft. I was looking at this puppetry book. I was taking this puppet that I
[00:41:58] Lisa Woolfork: had made last [00:42:00] year. Oh my gosh. Hello, you, are you a cupcake puppet?
[00:42:03] Lisa Woolfork: She's a cupcake puppet puppet. I'm calling her a puppet because she's sitting in a little bucket. So it's just like a puppet bucket, you know, the puppet bucket. Oh, it's just
[00:42:11] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: so. So I like take these and physically hold them and take them and think about the process with this. I was really thinking about how for decades, I wanted to make one of these puppets and just didn't or thought I couldn't do it, or for whatever reason,
[00:42:26] Lisa Woolfork: but you did there.
[00:42:27] Lisa Woolfork: She's. I
[00:42:28] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: literally was like, okay, I can finish this book. I'm not sure what's gonna happen, but I don't have to be sure. I'm just going to the same way. I'm gonna go stitch by stitch. I'm gonna go like word by word. I'm gonna go out and take a walk. I'm gonna walk and knit. That's like a big thing for me. I'm gonna let.
[00:42:45] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: Those processes, feed each
[00:42:47] Lisa Woolfork: other in a way. I love that so much. I am going to ask you a question really quickly about the process of narrating a book, just because I'm nosy and want to know who else am I gonna [00:43:00] ask? I don't know that many people who have audible books that they've narrated. Okay. This is the silly question.
[00:43:05] Lisa Woolfork: What is the time ratio between the length of the book and how long it takes to record? Because I can tell you right now, I am one of these silly people who think that just because Beyonce records a song that's three minutes and 59 seconds, it took her three minutes and 59 seconds to go into the studio to make it.
[00:43:26] Lisa Woolfork: I know that is. Because there's engineering and there's slicing and splicing and mixing and all of these things. And she probably has to sing a refrain like two or three times. Or I heard about this thing with Billy Eish. I don't know her music. I don't know who she is, but I do know that she's very popular people really like her, but she was talking to some TV interviewer about, I think they called it.
[00:43:50] Lisa Woolfork: It might have been some kind of song splicing, but essentially. She sings the song and then they go back and they take every single little clip of where she [00:44:00] sounded good and they put it together into a song and I'm like, I think that's just something they do for her. Cause I'm pretty sure Aretha Franklin did not need that.
[00:44:08] Lisa Woolfork: I'm pretty sure Aretha Franklin did not need to have every single note or Whitney Houston did not need to have every single note she ever sent. Absolutely not put together so that she could get something good to come outta the. Absolutely not. And this is not antibi. I don't know her. I don't know anything about her.
[00:44:22] Lisa Woolfork: So y'all, don't come from me. And really, for real, if y'all really come from me about talking about some white lady, I will block you from life or from my life, at least. Because again, why are you here? The stitch please podcast. We set our black women, girls and films. We ain't going. Yeah. What is the time ratio.
[00:44:39] Lisa Woolfork: So if it's a 15 minute book, did you go into the studio and take 15 minutes to read? And then you got to
[00:44:45] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: go home. I did not take 15 minutes to read. Well, I was very aware that I couldn't take that long. I was so excited about it and I had wanted to do an audio book for. Almost my entire life. Like I used to make cassettes.
[00:44:58] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: Like I used to pretend I was a [00:45:00] radio person, make my own show on cassettes. So I always wanted to, you were
[00:45:04] Lisa Woolfork: a pre podcaster girl. You are like early adopter. She's like, you know what? I got a radio shack cassette, it gotta record button and it can record stuff off the radio and I can plug a microphone in and I can talk so welcome to my world.
[00:45:16] Lisa Woolfork: At one point
[00:45:17] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I was doing a project where I was trying to do a kid's radio. Teach kids to also do audio.
[00:45:24] Lisa Woolfork: Cause I love audio. And you were a kid, you were a child. I'm just being kid. You were a child who was offering lessons in radio production to other children based on your self credentialing. As an audio professional at about the age of seven.
[00:45:40] Lisa Woolfork: Okay. Just I got it. I got it. Making a way outta no way. Cause yeah. Yeah, you should be. So how did the Olu BI Sola school of radio production? Second grade go.
[00:45:50] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: So, you know, as usual, my main student was my little sister. My only student was my little sister and I was like, I made her do all the shows. [00:46:00]
[00:46:00] Lisa Woolfork: you are my.
[00:46:02] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I made her watch my cooking show. I made . I made her come to my
[00:46:06] Lisa Woolfork: music school. Do you wanna still speak? I just wanna be clear, like, and she's gonna let this going. Oh my gosh. You should have been there. It was really
[00:46:13] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: a lot. I'm sure she would say that my sister is wonderful and I appreciate how much she put up with me.
[00:46:19] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: I was very much an older sister
[00:46:22] Lisa Woolfork: I will have to say the same and shout out to my younger two sisters as well, because I know I am a
[00:46:28] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: lot. I was a lot. And so, yeah. So I always have that. And. Bay makes a way. I was thinking even as I was writing was like, okay, well maybe this could be an opportunity for me to audition for the audio book, but I knew I needed to prepare, I had done drama when I was much younger in theater and stuff.
[00:46:45] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: So I did find, uh, coach Monsa Frick. Wonderful. A black woman who took me like through a little refresher of audio and understanding how to perform, how it's not just reading how it is a performance. So when [00:47:00] I email the producers and the publishers, can I audition? I could tell they were kind of like, yeah, sure.
[00:47:05] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: You can,
[00:47:07] Lisa Woolfork: but why are you gonna be mad when we don't pick you? I just wanna make sure you'll still let us publish the book, even if we don't pick you to read. Right. I just wanna make sure cuz this wasn't written into the contract. Can we all check? Frank look into that. Did we promise that she could narrate?
[00:47:22] Lisa Woolfork: Okay. Okay. We're good. Come on girl. Come on an audition. Come on, go ahead.
[00:47:26] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: Audition. So I sent him my little pile and they liked it. And so I practiced a lot before I went to the studio, just reading the book. I practiced different styles. I did like my luxury reading and like the luxury voice. I did my like auntie sitting next to you read it all these different styles, different tone.
[00:47:43] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: And then in the studio we just went through and there would be like one or two times, like if my throat got caught or something, I would just pause for like a couple seconds and say the line again, or just keep going. And then there were a couple times when I would say like, oh, I didn't like how that [00:48:00] can I try a different take, but I really didn't do that that much.
[00:48:02] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: So I would say. The actual time of recording was 30 minutes, maybe less than 30 minutes. Hey, that's
[00:48:09] Lisa Woolfork: great. That's amazing. Cuz it sounds fantastic. You can hear the excitement in your voice. you can hear the excitement in your voice. I can hear it. When you make these pauses to go from what sounds to me.
[00:48:23] Lisa Woolfork: Cause again, I haven't seen the hard copy. Don't worry. Y'all she says she's gonna send me some copies and maybe I'll give one away during the month of September. Woo. Yes. I don't know. We'll see. Can I have my signed please? Absolutely Woohoo. And so I could hear it. And what sounded to me like when you were going from chapter breaks or section breaks and different shifting tones of the story, you can totally hear that.
[00:48:44] Lisa Woolfork: Y'all I recommend the audio, but I also recommend the visual because it's so beautiful. It is absolutely beautiful book. And I'm so grateful that you have introduced may Reeves to a generation of new people. She was someone who was new to [00:49:00] you. And you got to see her exhibition at the Smithsonian to work with her daughter and talk with her daughter.
[00:49:05] Lisa Woolfork: And this person really became whole and alive to you. And you've been able to share that wholeness and aliveness with us. And I am so grateful for that. I'm gonna ask you one last question. The slogan of the stitch please podcast is that we will help you get your stitch. So O Alabama Sola Ruda. Perovich what advice would you offer to our listeners to help them get their stitch together?
[00:49:28] Lisa Woolfork: My advice
[00:49:29] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: would be to listeners of this podcast to be generous to yourself, to be kind to yourself and to be forgiving of yourself. Not to feel in that same way that I used to. And very often still am sort of focused on product and focused on achieving, making judgements about myself and what I do and what I've done in a negative way and in a way that diminishes me and who I am and that legacy of my mom and my grandmother, my aunts, [00:50:00] that kind of diminishes all of.
[00:50:02] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: It's harmful. So yeah, I would say, be generous with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Do not feel that your process has to reflect anybody else's that it has to be anything like anybody else's wherever you are, is behind or ahead, or anything of anyone else just live in your process. Figure it out. Don't be afraid to make mistake.
[00:50:24] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: Know that you will make mistakes. You're not really doing it. I think if you're not making any
[00:50:28] Lisa Woolfork: mistakes, I love that so much. And it reminds me of something y'all, if you are a Patreon supporters, you get to see the lovely video. And I'm gonna talk about something that only the Patreon folks can see. And it is this beautiful banner that ULA baby Sola has behind her.
[00:50:43] Lisa Woolfork: And it says joy is an act of re. And something that my mother would say to me all the time is she'd say, Lisa, don't let the devil steal your joy. I think comparison is the thief of joy. And I think what you have offered us as advice is to sink into [00:51:00] your process and find the joy in that at all stages of it can be joyful, you know, not just the outcome, but the process cuz that's where the life.
[00:51:10] Lisa Woolfork: That's where the living is. And so, oh my gosh. Only mem, so this has been so beautiful. Thank you so much for coming to the stitch piece podcast and talking with us today. This has been really wonderful. Thank
[00:51:22] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This has been such a trade it's like going in to do the audio book. Like I'm over the moon.
[00:51:28] Lisa Woolfork: It's wonder. Now tell us where we can find you and what you have coming up next. I'll make sure to put all the links to your stuff. And I know I'm gonna talk to you off Mike, about you starting a podcast. For your organization. So you can talk about black readers and all stuff that you have, and yeah.
[00:51:42] Lisa Woolfork: Yeah. We're gonna have a chat about that. Where else can we find you? So you can
[00:51:45] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: find me on Instagram at my whole name, Olu VMI. So Ruda Perovich and on the web at Olu Demi. So put in any of the titles of my books, operation sisterhood may makes way, and you will get to those sites [00:52:00] as well. I'm working on now, a sequel to operation sisterhood called the show must go on about the girls, trying to put on their own show in the neighborhood and getting a little in over their heads.
[00:52:11] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: And I'm working on those easy readers marketer makes or mat makes about a little girl who is a maker. And so. I'm working on one now where she's trying to build a Guinea pig habitat, because she thinks that her classroom, Guinea pig needs a little more fun in his life. And so she's gonna build him more of an amusement park and like, wow, a Guinea pig, roller coaster,
[00:52:32] Lisa Woolfork: and things like that.
[00:52:33] Lisa Woolfork: My goodness. Well, let us hope that the Guinea pig survives all this affection. Yeah. Thank you again for being with us today. This has been a real joy.
[00:52:43] Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: Thank you. Thank you so much, Lisa.
[00:52:48] Lisa Woolfork: You've been listening. Stitch please. The official podcast of black women's stitch, the sewing group where black lives matter.
[00:52:55] Lisa Woolfork: We appreciate you joining us this week and every week for stories that [00:53:00] center black women, girls, and fems in sewing, we invite you to join the black women's stitch Patreon community with giving levels beginning at $5, a. Your contributions, help us bring the stitch, please podcast to you every week. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your support and come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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