Come Out the Wilderness
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ESTELLA CONWILL MÁJOZO is an associate professor of English at Hunter College, City University of New York, where she teaches creative writing and African-American literature. Her published books of poetry include Libation: A Literary Pilgrimage Through the African American Soul, Jiva Telling Rites, and Metamorphosis.

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Come Out the Wilderness

Memoir of a Black Woman Artist
Estella Conwill Májozo

With a lyrical style and a sharp eye for character reminiscent of Zora Neale Hurston, Májozo breathes life into her story. Born in the “Little Africa” section of segregated Louisville, Kentucky in the 1940s, Májozo embarks on a search for “some state of grace” and a life that is “rooted in contradictions.” As a student of color at a white Catholic elementary school, she is expected to be a spokesperson for the black race as early battles of the Civil Rights Movement rage around her. Although she grows up with brilliant female role models–a mother and grandmother whose strength and business acumen are the bedrock of the family–the young Májozo must win her college tuition by competing in the local “Miss Black Expo” pageant. When her first husband grows emotionally and physically abusive, Májozo’s story brings to light the special conflicts faced by black women, who are too often forced to choose between a sense of loyalty to race and a consciousness of the injustices of gender.

In telling her story, Májozo offers insight into the creative process and sources of inspiration for struggling artists. Her flight from domestic violence drives her into poverty, but she triumphs by supporting herself and her children as an artist. She publishes several books of poetry, opens the first African American Arts center in Louisville, and goes on to become a pillar of Harlem’s hardy cultural community. While raising two children, she earns one of the first PhD's in African American literature from the University of Iowa.

"Come Out the Wilderness is a soul-stirring, beautifully crafted litany of prose, interspersed with poetic phrases."

The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky)

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