Addena Sumter-Freitag


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... 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.

Rita Wong
Author of 'Forage'
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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.

Michelle-Lee Williams
Afro News
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“This play ( Stay Black And Die ) shows the strength that come through adversity and the beauty of the human spirit.”

Nick Carroll
The Messenger, Adelaide, Australia
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"…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."

Wayde Compton
Author of Performance Bond and editor of Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and Orature
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"..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."

David Chariandy
Governor General’s Literary Awards Finalist for Soucouyant
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“Stay Black & Die Is Poignant & Provocative! Brilliantly Drawn Characters! A Must See!”
Winnipeg Sun
Stay Black And Die: “…a great piece of writing –funny, moving, unsettling, and beautiful.. It’s brilliant!”
Anne Fleming
The Georgia Straight
Stay Black And Die: “Those who could still stand at the end of this play, did so to give Sumter-Freitag a loud Ovation!”
Doug Nairne
Winnipeg Free Press
“Stay Black & Die gives voice to Silent Lives. Addena Sumter-Freitag exposes the pain of racism in a powerfully personal way”
Terry McCluskey
Up Here Magazine
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the keen observations and experience as a black child Sumter lived through in Winnipeg. I thought I knew a lot about my hometown, Winnipeg, but this book enlightened me to the grim realities as it was in the 50s and 60s that I was too young to experience. I could relate to having a father that was a railroad porter, as Sumter s joy when her father would come home from the road was similar to what I felt. I also learned what a "*igger toe" really was, as me and my sister's were also called the same names by children of eastern European immigrants in Winnipeg's North End. I appreciated learning about Canadian black culture in prose for the first time ever. Surprisingly, Winnipeg was an interesting place to grow up in Sumter's time, whereas I couldn't wait to leave its seemingly dull confines. I think I am about 10 years younger, so by the time I graduated a black woman could get a good job. No wonder my family was so proud when I became an RN and at the biggest hospital in town. I share the same humble beginnings, and Truro, Nova Scotia ancestors. To me, the Island was a place of poverty and alcoholism, and I hated going there. So throughout the book I was constantly comparing my experience s to hers, as Sumter s vivid and sometimes painful description s resonated with me. That being said, we can both appreciate Winnipeg for the strong women it made us. The picture Sumter paints of the North End is very accurate, and evoked both good and bad memories for me. I learned Sumter s mother and her sister s were pioneers, one of the first black Nova Scotian families in Winnipeg. My dad didn't arrive there until 1950. What struck me was the aloneness that she felt, with a tough resilient mother and a loving but often absent father. Just like my parents. Sumter writes with compassion and honesty and humor. This book is a worthy addition to document the black Canadian experience. The cover picture of Sumter as the only black person at Ralph Brown school could have been me, for things hadn't changed when I went there. Throughout the book, I could feel the pain and exhilaration of Sumter's life, through childhood and as a young adult. We can now both look back and fondly embrace our Winnipeg heritage.
Marlene from Winnipeg
From Good Reads Review

"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."

Atef Laouyene
Associate Professor, California State University, Los Angeles

Addena Sumter-Freitag / Author

Available Titles by Addena

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.”

Stay Black & Die
Back In The Days
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