Some Things (But Not Everything) About Me
· March 27, 1948. I am born.
· After two brothers, pray for a sister and get one.
· Study voice and piano.
· Show up at a club to sing with a band and discover the bass player is my old grade school art teacher and a friend and frat brother of my father (who is a Pentecostal).
· Spring 1968. I am watching a television commercial that excites me. The song is “Up, Up and Away” by the Fifth Dimension. Travelers, crew members, rushing through the terminal. Excitement. Adventure. Promise. The airline is TWA. I tell my mother, “That’s what I want to do,” and she says to go ahead, see what can come of it.
· June 1968. I leave Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for Kansas City, Missouri.
· August 1968. I am finally in New York, but not the New York of my fantasies. No long awnings extending from doorway to the curb. No doormen summoning taxis for me with Henry Mancini compositions in the background. Well, Corona, Queens, but it’s a building with its own pool and steam room. Okay, the apartment is an L-shaped studio shared with another international flight attendant from Cleveland, Ohio, but the rent, including utilities, is $200 a month!
· Between 1968 and 1973, in no particular order, I
o Experience a near-miss somewhere over the Alps (the plane was close enough that I recognize it as AA)
o Meet and fall in love with Muhammad Ali during his exile from boxing when he flies from NYC to Cincinnati
o Beat a Roman in the head with a shoe box when he grabs my crotch near the Spanish Steps
o Out Leonard Nimoy, who’s traveling in coach, with, “Spock, will it be chicken, beef or veal?”
o Wake up one morning to find one of my returning roommates drinking coffee in the living room with Miles Davis
o Flee a bullfight arena in horror and tears in Madrid
o Purchase my first car and drive for a year without a license
o Stand up to in-your-face racial bigotry from passengers and crews
o Discover New York theater
o Vow never to serve another cup of coffee again.
· 1973 and Onward, I
o Hang out with actors and playwrights
o Am mentored in playwrighting by Ed Bullins and have several small productions and staged readings
o Use my “quota” job at a television station to read at least 4 books a week and compose poetry on anything available.
o Overcome public shyness enough to do public poetry readings with a group, alone as featured poet, accompanied by music
o Return to the study of piano and classical voice. Rehearse "Alma del core" by Caldara, "Tu lo sai" by Torelli and "Se tu m'ami, se sospiri " by Pergolesi and discover I’m not cut out for performance art when, during a student recital, before friends and family, I go blank during "Se tu m'ami, se sospiri," because my coach is behind me whispering, "Louder, louder, Miss Bahati. " Ouch. I fall back on my stewardess training and flash my beautiful smile while the accompaniest carries on. With nothing more to lose, I look at him and then miraculously pick up where I floundered and complete the aria when my coach whispers a timely phrase. Everyone applauds. Who knew?
o Work for ABC Radio News as a secretary and then as a studio director of network newscasts (loved this job and company)
o Punched between the shoulder blades one night by an old lady because she wants the taxi I'm hailing
o Fall in love with a cat and live with them forever (probably)
WhistleSof’WhenY’Fall is a novel set in Manhattan. Little Joe-Joe Reeves is a renowned jazz stylist, recently blinded and at a turning point in her personal life and career. She’s writing her autobiography, or rather, dictating it, and it, too, is entitled WhistleSof’WhenY’Fall.
After a five-year absence from the New York music world, Joe-Joe is all set to perform at Tavern-on-the-Green, but on this day, returns to her apartment to find that a fire has broken out in her apartment. And on this day, her lover has decided to solidify his marriage vows with his wife. Musette, her daughter, is an opera singer who must labor and make her own way in the shadow of her mother’s fame and disdain. She has also been working on her own jazz debut. And on this day, every ghost that Joe-Joe has managed to walk ahead of threatens to gain on her: her bass-player father who spent too much time teaching music to teenagers and who disappeared one day to pursue his own art; a childhood friend who came to New York with Joe-Joe, but whose artistic dreams died a slow and silent death. It’s a novel about dreams, about insistent memories, about relationships and how truth changes depending on who’s telling it.
Columbia University, School of the Arts
· MFA, Creative Writing
· Co-edited Columbia, A Magazine of Poetry & Prose
The New School
· BA, Liberal Arts (with a concentration in writing and psychology)
Lecturer Queens and Manhattan Colleges; the College of Mt. Saint Vincent, Flushing and Riverdale, NY
· Taught all levels of English composition, rhetoric and research protocol. Taught creative writing. Initiated and oversaw the writing for and production of a student fiction publication.
· Fiction and poetry published in literary magazines in Indiana, New York, Minnesota and Ohio (Indiana Review, BOMB, Sing Heavenly Muse!, Karamu)
AWARDS & HONORS
· Claire Woolrich Writing Fellowship sponsored by Columbia University and Warner Communications
· Jason Miller Writing Fellowship sponsored by Columbia University and the Lincoln Center Council on the Arts
· First prize in fiction (Indiana Review)
· First fiction runner-up in D.H. Lawrence National Fiction Competition
· Nominated for Pushcart Prize
RECORDINGS & LISTINGS
· "Feelings of Love Not Yet Expressed," An Album of Poetry by The Neo-Black Women in Poetry, Smithsonian Folkways Recording
· Being and Race: Black Writing Since 1970 by Charles Johnson
· ASPCA, Volunteer Cat Socializer
· SGI-USA, a lay Buddhist and peace organization
· International Women Writing Guild (IWWG)
· Artist Conference Network (ACN)