... a gifted storyteller. With honesty and a keen ear for voices, she narrates how one girl finds the strength to survive cruelty from both the family and the outside world. Her words remind us to stay alert and tender, to feel fully, and to respect the power of memory.
Much of the play is hilarious and sometimes even “show-stopping”- other segments are so painful and riveting you forget you are witnessing a performance worthy of thunderous applause-but when the scene fades to black, you can only sit there stunned.
“This play ( Stay Black And Die ) shows the strength that come through adversity and the beauty of the human spirit.”
"…bold-faced, broad-based and takes up space in a Canada that needs to be re-raced. *Back in the Days* is a book that will change your sense of here, and will eclectify your sense of self, wherever and whoever you are. You’ll love going back with Sumter-Freitag, whether or not you were there the first time around, because you’re here and now in her glorious storytelling."
"..offers the real deal on a Winnipeg upbringing that all of us should know about. She is a gifted storyteller who isn’t afraid to address difficult circumstances, but whose care and compassion for the people she represents is abundantly clear. She is one of those rare and revered storytellers who compel you instantly to listen up and pay respect."
"Back in the Days is a collection of poems gracefully interlaced with pieces of creative non-fiction and touchingly rendered by the same speaker in Sumter-Freitag’s earlier one-woman play, Stay Black and Die. Drawing on her childhood memories and stamping her idiom with black speech patterns, Sumter-Freitag succeeds in weaving a riveting, multi-voiced, and multi-generational family portrait, one that mirrors the collective lived experiences of racialized Black minorities both in the US and in Canada.
A host of characters make their appearance in this family portrait: the uncommunicative but attractively melancholy father, with whom Sumter-Freitag has a special fascination; the strict but selflessly indefatigable mother; the shell-shocked cousins; the cousins who taught her the facts of life; the uncle who was assassinated by the clan, and the other uncle who enlisted in the Great War only to find himself building ditches and shovel[ing] the shit in the latrines.
Within Sumter-Freitag’s poetic breath, these characters are generously accommodated, not because they have been part of her coming-of-age journey, but because their long-buried stories will hopefully bring to public consciousness the violence of racial politics that continues to structure the Black community’s social existence. That the book has made it into the school curriculum now is, without doubt, a plain testament to its relevance and merit."
Addena Sumter-Freitag / Author
Stay Black & Die
Stay Black & Die is a story that reveals the real deal about growing up as a little black girl in the North End of Winnipeg in the 1950's and 60's. Growing up is difficult and confusing for the sweet and observant Penny as she struggles to find the strength to survive the cruelty of her family and the outside world. A story set in Canada, yet it echoes the experience of racialized minorities throughout the world. Funny, moving, unsettling and beautiful.
Back In The Days
“Back In the Days Wise, winking, woeful and wild, the words of Addena Sumter-Freitag lift off the page and sweep you with them into worlds hidden, forgotten, repressed, and denied. Sumter-Freitag brings her stories and poetry to life by fusing the poetically suggestive with the brutally honest and the brazenly humorous with the unspeakably tragic.”