ALL STORIES ARE ANANSI’S
About the author:
Courlander was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of noted American painter, David Courlander of Detroit, Michigan. Courlander received a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan in 1931. At the University of Michigan, he received three Avery Hopwood Awards (one in drama and two in literary criticism). He attended graduate school at the University of Michigan and Columbia University. He spent time in the 1930s on a farm in Romeo, Michigan. There, he built a one-room log cabin in the woods where he spent much of his time writing. With the prize money from the Hopwood Awards, Courlander took his first field trip to Haiti, inspired by the writings of William Buehler Seabrook. In 1939, he published his first book about Haitian life entitled Haiti Singing. Over the next 30 years, he traveled to Haiti more than 20 times. His research focused on religious practices, African retentions, oral traditions, folklore, music, and dance. His book, The Drum and the Hoe: Life and Lore of the Haitian People, published in 1960, became a classic text for the study of Haitian culture. Courlander also took numerous field trips to the southern United States, recording folk music in the 1940s and 1950s. From 1947–1960, he served as a general editor of Ethnic Folkways Library(he actually devised the label name) and recorded more than 30 albums of music from different cultures (e.g., the cultures of Indonesia, Ethiopia, West Africa, Haiti, and Cuba). In 1950, he also did field recordings in Alabama later transcribed by John Benson Brooks. In the 1960s, Courlander began a series of field trips to the American Southwest to study the oral literature and culture of the Hopi Indians. His collection of folk tales, People of the Short Blue Corn: Tales and Legends of the Hopi Indians, was issued in 1970 and was quickly recognized as an indispensable work in the study of oral literature. From 1942-43, during World War II, Harold Courlander served as a historian for the Air Transport Command for the Douglas Aircraft Project 19 in Gura, Eritrea. Courlander then worked as a writer and editor for the Office of War Information in New York and Bombay, India, from 1943-46. From 1946 until 1956, he worked as a news writer and news analyst for the Voice of America in New York City. He was an information specialist and speech writer for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations from 1956–1957. He was a writer and editor for The United Nations Review from 1957–1960. From 1960 until 1974, Courlander was African specialist, Caribbean specialist, feature writer, and senior news analyst for the Voice of America in Washington, D.C.. Always sympathetic to the plight of animals, Courlander, in his later years would write with his rescued, mixed German Shepherd dog, Sandy, at his side. Even in the 1990s, Courlander still used the same Royal typewriter he had purchased in the 1940s. Courlander never learned typing as they teach it in school and always typed his manuscripts using two fingers.
Once there were no stories in the world. The Sky-God, Nyame, had them all. Anansi went to Nyame and asked how much they would cost to buy. Nyame set a high price: Anansi must bring back Onini the Python, Osebo the Leopard, the Mmoboro Hornets. Anansi set about capturing these. First he went to catch the hornets, Anansi filled a calabash with water and poured some over him and some over the nest, calling out that it was raining. He suggested the hornets get into the empty calabash and, when they obliged, quickly sealed the opening. Then, he went to where Python lived and debated out loud whether Python was really longer than the bamboo poleor not as his wife also says. Python overheard and, when Anansi explained the debate, agreed to lie along the...