S.R. (Rudy) Martin Jr.
B.A., UC Berkeley, 1957
M.A., S.F. State, 1961
Ph.D, WSU, 1974
Former Faculty, The Evergreen State College
I'm a relatively unusual creature, a western African American, born in Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1935 and transplanted to California's Monterey Peninsula in 1943. One of TESC's 18 founding faculty members (called "planners") who came to Olympia in 1970, I later served as Faculty Chair, Academic Dean and in a variety of other functions at the College. I taught with a large number of faculty members in a wide range of academic offerings in the Humanities and Arts, usually stressing American/African American culture and writing. After 27 years, I retired in June of 1997 to write, travel with my wife Gail and spoil our grandchildren.
Most of the work I've published has focused on African American life in the United States, especially in the West. In fiction and non-fiction, I've tried to show Black life in its physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual locations and conditions. I'm hoping to reveal Black experience in the kind of depth, detail and complexity that will demonstrate the general human experience of life on this planet.
Latest Publication Title
Seaside Stories, Blue Nile Press, 2011
On the Move: A Black Family's Western Saga (family memoir), Texas A & M University Press, 2009
Natural-Born Proud: A Revery, Utah State University Press, 2010
From "Cowboy's Dance" in Seaside Stories:
By the time I got there, most of the fire was already out. Sitting two or three lots off Fremont on one of those little side streets--Park or Palm, or some other name I've forgotten after three years of absence--the house seemed to crowd the sidewalk and lean towards the street. Huge floodlights washed everything in garish, surreal light, and smoke and steam poured out of the windows and doors. Firemen, looking like space men and carrying axes and shovels, sprayed water and rushed back and forth into and out of the house. The noise from the machinery and hoses was deafening, and the smoke and water made everything smell dank and musty. What was left of his body, looking small, forlorn, laid under a sheet on a gurney at the back of the aid van. I just didn't have the stomach to go see his remains. I had last seen him at the barbershop earlier that day, and now he was dead. Crazy.
From On the Move: A Black Family's Western Saga:
My brother and I arrived on the scene at the confluence of these familial streams [Halls/Martins and Wyatts/Fieldses] in time to catch a ride to the shining sea. In heading west in 1938 or 1939, our parents were about to embark upon what might have seemed like a major economic opportunity, or maybe just an exciting adventure. I'm not sure what they felt leaving kith and kin for places most people like them had only read about or seen in movies. But I'd wager that they didn't anticipate the finality, the life-changing influence of events they would experience in the next few years. And they knew nothing of the place, the West, where so many changes would overtake them.
From Natural-Born Proud: A Revery
It's funny how experiences shape people's lives. Some of them fade from the memory, drift away, get fuzzy around the edges, as if the light of recollection gets dim in places, bringing back only outlines, shapes or fragments. Others remain part of the consciousness in such pristine form that they merge with the perpetual present we live in, standing out, clear, sharp and whole, firm and palpable, distinct like a warm light focused right in the center of our foreheads. Picking and choosing among experiences and memories, as if deciding which clothes to wear, often leads to fractured, unstable personalities. Only careful use of experience and memory, of past and present, can form the basis of our making the future worth having.
How did Evergreen help you in your career?
Evergreen allowed me to spend the vast majority of my work life in a setting and among people that supported my teaching and learning in ways I couldn't have imagined previously. I was able to explore a wide range of ideas, texts, and issues at a depth and in a contextual complexity I experienced nowhere else. I attempted new and difficult things, I felt safe taking risks, I learned things I never even inquired about before, and I grew significantly in competence and confidence. I believe all of this made me a deeper, wiser person and a better writer.