About the Author

Shauntay Grant

Shauntay Grant is a Canadian playwright, poet, performance artist, and children's author. She is an associate professor of creative writing at Dalhousie University, and former poet laureate for the City of Halifax. Her work examines African Nova Scotian and African diasporic history and folk culture, as well as contemporary approaches to literature and performance. Grant’s other honours include a Joseph S. Stauffer Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts, a Robert Merritt Award from Theatre Nova Scotia, a Best Atlantic Published Book Prize from the Atlantic Book Awards, a Poet of Honour prize from the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, and a Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award from the Canadian Children's Book Centre for Africville (Groundwood Books).

Books by this Author
The Bridge
Excerpt

(In 2010, CHORISTERS move through church burial grounds. ENSEMBLE hums “Before The Heaven Door Close.”)

CHORISTERS

(reading tombstone)

Lord have mercy!

CHORISTER 3

Marcus Jeremiah Ross?

CHORISTER 2

I still can't believe they let you be buried ‘long-side the church.

CHORISTER 1

All that sinnin’ you done did?

CHORISTERS

Lord!

CHORISTER 2

Break and entering.

CHORISTER 3

Armed robbery.

CHORISTER 1

Assault wit' a deadly weapon.

CHORISTER 3

Child abuse.

CHORISTER 2

Wife abuse.

CHORISTER 3

Fraud.

CHORISTERS

Ain’t no way that man made it in.

CHORISTER 1

He mighta crossed the bridge. Made it far as heaven door. Might even got to knock knock knockin’ on it but so help me I tell you...

CHORISTER 2

(interrupting)

Preach!

CHORISTER 1

...soon that angel Gabriel seen his sorry ass try to step through the pearly gates I know he look Marcus Jeremiah straight in the eye and say “you must be out ya goddamn mind!”

CHORISTER 3

(to CHORISTER 1)

Stop that now.

CHORISTER 1

God rest his soul.

CHORISTERS 2

Amen.

CHORISTER 1

Well will you look at that - someone went put fresh flowers on Brother Bobby grave.

CHORISTER 2

Shoulda put a bucket of chicken. That man was sooo fat.

(CHORISTERS 1 & 3 respond in agreement)

Took the whole community to lug his behind out the church when he passed. Casket so heavy cousin Ronnie was pallbearin’ dropped his side sent poor Aunt Pauline flyin’ down the church steps knocked that old woman straight out!

CHORISTER 1

Almost had two funerals in one day.

CHORISTER 2

That man been dead five years but believe you me there’s enough meat on them bones keep them maggots feastin’ for forty, fifty years to come.

CHORISTER 3

God rest his soul.

CHORISTER 2

Amen.

CHORISTER 3

Well now will you look at that.

(CHORISTERS pause at another gravesite.)

Mary Elizabeth Carter.

CHORISTERS 1 & 2

My Lord.

CHORISTERS

I forgot you was even dead.

(CHORISTER 1 spies JOHN SOLOMON standing at Mama Irenie’s gravesite.)

CHORISTER 3

Sorry I didn’t make it out to your funeral.

CHORISTER 2

Me too. Heard it was a lovely time.

CHORISTER 1

(motioning towards JOHN SOLOMON)

Look.

(Humming stops)

CHORISTER 2

(reading tombstone)

Irene Isabella Moses.

CHORISTER 1

(motioning to John Solomon)

Didn't even come to his own Mama / funeral.

CHORISTER 3

/ Shhh!

CHORISTER 2

God rest your soul.

(Lights fade on CHORISTERS.)

JOHN SOLOMON

(singing)

I'm gonna meet my mother in the wilderness

The wilderness, the wilderness

I'm gonna meet my mother in the wilderness

One of those days

 

(REVEREND ELI enters, spies his brother.)

I'm goin' right straight up yonder

I'm goin' right straight up yonder

I'm goin'...

(REVEREND ELI joins in)

 

JOHN SOLOMON & REVEREND ELI

(singing)

...right straight...

 

(JOHN SOLOMON stops singing)

 

REVEREND ELI

(singing)

...up yonder

One of those days

(JOHN SOLOMON exits abruptly.)

 

REVEREND ELI

(calling after JOHN SOLOMON)

John!

(REVEREND ELI moves to Mama Irenie's gravesite.)

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