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Tea Leaves: a memoir of mothers and daughters by Janet Mason (Bella Books April 2012) is now available -- click here for more info

check out Janet Mason's author blog

Note: Anita Cornwell has had dementia for several years and her conditioning is deteriorating quickly. She is a resident at Stapeley Nursing Home in the Northwest section of Philadelphia. To find out more information on Anita, e-mail her good friend Sharon at .

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Tea Leaves: a memoir of mothers and daughters by Janet Mason (Bella Books April 2012) is now available -- click here for more info
Click here to read commentary on Anita Cornwell
Click here to read an excerpt of Anita Cornwell's groundbreaking book,
Black Lesbian in White America

click here to read Anita's work on

Anita Cornwell was in her forties by the time second wave feminism arrived in the mid-1960s. She soon became one of the few black lesbians in the United States who were living out, speaking out, and writing out. Her pioneering book Black Lesbian in White America published in 1983 by Naiad Press.

With My Ears Wide Open
Anita Cornwell

Looking Back:
Jotting from A Writer's Journals--



My life has been a long, fumbling search for myself. Is success just around the next bend in the road?

There's so much to learn that it frightens me, and so much to be done that I often feel a thousand forces tearing at me like starving wolves.

About writing, I feel the same as I do about sleep: If I can calm down, grab one of the slippery edges, I can get it out and down onto paper.

I'd like to read all the good books, hear all the fine music: dance, sing, laugh, cry, make love, travel, stand still, run, fly: be a musician, doctor, counselor, lawyer, social worker, poet, nurse, writer--always and ever: the writer.

My reading "serious works" program is not progressing too well, I'm afraid. I am back with the newspapers and the ball games. But at least I'm thinking in better channels. And I'm sticking with the notebook at long last. It's difficult for me to understand how I withstood it all these years.


My dreams are a surging mass of chaos which tumbles about me as I chug along dim, unknown back roads.

So here I sit, too tired to work or sleep, eating five cent candy bars the exact size of the one-cent bars of my youth. I ruin my teeth, I know (to say nothing of my poor figger ); any day now, I expect the whole batch to drop out.

1967: September 4....Angie phoned this afternoon. It's the first time she's called "just to let me know she's thinking of me." Naturally, I was surprised, and pleased, and puzzled. Is she merely offering friendship? If so, how does she expect me to act inasmuch as she knows I am in love with her? I suppose this bit will clarify itself as time creeps along...? Anyway, I wonder if I could just be friends with her? Then, too, perhaps I don't really love her but am merely tired of living and working alone...?

September 6....Didn't see or hear from Angie today. I could have glimpsed her probably if I had gone to the window at the right time. But I deliberately kept myself from doing that. I simply must protect myself somehow...Now I know what Katherine Mansfield meant by "...all those complaining journals."

September 23rd....My birthday. It's like any other Saturday, really. A bit lonely and uncertain, perhaps. Yet perhaps not too uncertain because a definite plan has been forming in my mind for the past week or so. For the next three or four months--or even longer--I intend to submerge myself in my work. And my heart will just have to take second billing.

Vee brought her portable around for me to use earlier today as my standard Remington is broken. Am slightly concerned over Vee. "My old flame," who seems to drink and drive too often and too much. Too bad it didn't work out for us after such a promising start several years ago. But, as they say, "That's life!"

October 1...Call from Vee who said, "I had an accident last night!" Naturally, that set me to discoursing on the merits of not drinking and driving, et cetera.

All total, a usual Sunday of little accomplishment and longing for Angie.

The End (for now)

Stay tuned to for future installments of previously unpublished writings from Anita Cornwell.


readings/appearances books poetry about audio/site map submit Tea Leaves: a memoirof mothers & daughters links/contact


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