Turn on any news channel, look out any window or step out your very own door and you will be confronted by the constant development happening within Greensboro.
For those that have spent their lives in Greensboro, I suppose it would be okay if the past was destroyed because they have memories to hold on to. But for those who have relocated here, they have no idea the treasures Greensboro once held.
Elizabeth Woodman, executive director of Eno Publishing, invited a combination of 27 writers and poets to share their view of Greensboro in the collection entitled “27 Views of Greensboro.”
While the book begins with a nice stroll down memory lane, sharing with the reader what Greensboro looked like as far back as the 1950s, we are quickly taken on a ride of varying pace through the voices of many talented writers.
“There is a sense of discovery with each book,” said Woodman in a phone interview. “But, I think as we look inside of ourselves and kind of tell our stories, there is so much that is revealed that hasn’t come out before.”
“27 Views of Greensboro” is a history lesson that is delivered by individuals who do not hold back their view of our great city. You will laugh. You will learn something new. You may even remember some things you may have forgotten. Above all else, you will see Greensboro in a way that you have never seen it before.
You will not find one bit of drab text in this collection.
“When I was asked to write the article about Greensboro, I did not wish to be negative about its many flaws in my mind,” said Stuart Dischell, professor of English at UNCG. “So I chose to write about a place I felt absolutely positive about --- a place diverse in its trees and people.”
While I expected for the stories within the collection to focus solely on historic buildings, victorious battles, ghosts of the past and famous people, I was pleasantly surprised to find stories of those who had relocated to Greensboro.
After being forced to leave her home of Jordan, Diya Abdo, chair and associate professor of English, relocated to Greensboro. She writes of her journey in her story entitled “Sayf.” This story sets an example of just how transparent the participants in the collection can get by inviting the reader into their lives and sharing with them their struggles with getting acclimated to what seems like, to them, a new world.
“Sadly, I don’t hear the azan (call to prayer) any more,” said Abdo. “I’ve been in Greensboro long enough that now other sounds have found their way in -- especially the cicadas and the frogs, the wind rustling through the willow oak leaves, the whooshing cars on Muirs Chapel.”
What makes “27 Views of Greensboro” a good read is that it delivers exactly what it says it will. Each writer tells how they see Greensboro through their eyes without restraint.
Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology, Richie Zweigenhaft authored “Gentrification and its Discontents.” In his story he shares his views on improvement.
“The neighborhood we moved into was a neighborhood I was quite comfortable in,” he said. “As the neighborhood gentrified … then the feel of the neighborhood somewhat changed.”
All change isn’t bad and in no way does this book suggest that. Nor does it bombard the reader with ramblings of those that oppose change. There is also a running theme of community throughout the book that can be seen in such pieces as the poem entitled “Grub” written by Josephus Thompson III.
For Thompson, being part of the project could be seen as being a part of something bigger than simply a resident of Greensboro.
“27 Views of Greensboro was like being a part of a rainbow of stories and my words getting a chance to paint a page. It was an honor.”
In his poem “Grub,” he shares the feeling of community and southern hospitality that Greensboro is known for.
Cover artist Daniel Wallace creatively blends the old and the new by displaying monuments from the past and structures of the present. It is as if he is telling the reader that there is a way for us all to coexist.
Whether you are looking to learn more about Greensboro or the people contained within it, “27 Views of Greensboro” will be the perfect guide.