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From the Diary of Sally Hemings

“White waves—a bitter dream—my mother’s mother in the lower deck—wet and cold in the blue-black night.

Dahomey child, betrothed when she was young, before she knew of white men or the sea.

A thin veil of fog. Her family brings a farmer, a boy not yet a man, to marry with the business of the home. Each dawn she climbs the palm tree and touches wine with her hands. A feast prepared. The gods must have a hand in this! A young goat sacrificed, okra, oranges, a basket of yams laid at her feet. She stands with old friends in new finery, her buba and iro an odd-colored blue, hair in beads, piled to the sky, tapping the palm wine from the palm tree.

Kidnapped before the roast meat was cold, snatched away to America; she was a stranger to the sea. White waves in the blue-black sea. Now a voyage of a different sort. Maria won’t go unless I come along. White waves in the blue-black sea till we land in port.”

An Interview with Arthur Miller

“I generally work because I am struck by something that someone has said. Playwriting is an oral art; it’s not an art of a writer expecting to be read but a writer expecting to be heard. And so I think that if I hear a character speaking, either one I’ve invented or one I’ve confronted, it starts a process of creating which I can’t control or even describe properly. If I could describe it I probably wouldn’t do it.”

Fall 1998 Cover

MQR 37:4 | Fall 1998

This special issue pays tribute to a University of Michigan alumnus. In advance of the 50th anniversary (in February of 1999) of his most famous play, Death of a Salesman, this 300+ page issue illuminates Miller’s life and work from a variety of perspectives.