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  • Turpentine Jake

Turpentine Jake


American history tells us slavery ended in 1865. But deep in the swamps and pine forests of Florida and Georgia, over half a million Blacks were held in debt servitude until the 1970’s. More than 100 years after the last cotton plant was plucked by an unpaid Black hand, turpentiners tapped the longleaf pines, harvesting pine gum fourteen hours a day. Because they earned less each week than they were forced to spend on food and clothing in the company store, the turpentiniers were virtually enslaved to their bosses. “The onliest way out is to die out,” says a seasoned worker in the play. Bannister and Hurd’s poetic looks at the extraordinary lives of the Blacks enslaved by debt peonage, but freed by their stories, songs, rootwork, and magic. Based on dozens of interviews with surviving centenarian turpentiners and the memories of Hurd’s own grandfather, Jake, Turpentine Jake is a rich spoken word poem full of dreams, wonders, and hard realities. Part history lesson, part poetry, part American Folklore, Turpentine Jake is a “blues drama,” capturing the soul (and sparkling with the wit and tenacity) of the turpentiners, truly “poets of the swingin’ blades” that carved the faces of the pines in the deep South. The book contains an introductory essay, photos, music, a glossary, and bibliography.

$9.95 each

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