I often travel to places I’ve read about, and I like how the remembered story unfolds as I drive, at once moving toward a destination and returning to a memory. On this particular trip, I’m rememberingErnest J. Gaines’s The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, a novel that follows the 100-year life of Miss Jane, from her birth during slavery to her death in the 1960s.

I’m heading to Pointe Coupee, Louisiana, and when I arrive, I’ll meet Ernest himself. I’m accepting an award named in his honor, and to say I’m grateful doesn’t come close to describing how I feel. Ernest has been a hero of mine since I was a teenager. In 2002, I sat in an auditorium at Spelman College in Atlanta and listened as he discussed his life and writing with Emory professor Rudolph Byrd. I’ll see Rudolph on this trip too. Together, we’ll all drive around Pointe Coupee, stopping to see a tree that is both myth and landmark.

Read the rest of the article at this link: THAT TREE HAS BEEN HERE

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