Members of the U.S. Congress rarely make it a point to enter an acknowledgment of a writer’s birthday into the official Congressional Record. Why should they? Writers have birthdays, get stomach aches, laugh through good days, and moan through bad days just everybody else. No big deal.
But author, poet, playwright, and social activist Miriam K. Center is far from typical and U.S. Representative Earl L. “Buddy” Carter felt her 90th birthday, on August 10, was worth officially noting during the second session of the 114th Congress on July 18, 2016 (See complete statement below).
While I may not see eye-to-eye with Congressman Carter when it comes to political matters (I admit to being challenged that way when it comes to Republicans) I do appreciate his cultural instincts where Miriam K. Center is concerned.
Literary Adventures in 1990s Savannah
It was my blessed good fortune to befriend Ms. Center during the mid-1990s in Savannah, Georgia. We shared a lot of good classically-themed literary adventures together, including, as members of the Savannah Writers’ Workshop, organizing and producing the city first literary festival in 1998. Participants on that notable occasion included authors Terry Kay, Rosemary Daniell, Bruce Feiler, Iris Formey Dawson, and Michael Porter.
We were also fortunate to still have with us at the time: the late Margaret Wayt DeBolt (1930-2009), Arthur Gordon (1912-2002), Ja A. Jahannes (1942-2015), and Tom Coffey (1923-2015).
Center also served with Robert Keber, Carolyn Siefferman, and me on the editorial board for the 1999 Savannah Literary Journal. In 2000, I had the honor (some might say “nerve to”) of publishing her boldly-titled maybe-or-maybe-not autobiographical novel Scarlett O’Hara Can Go to Hell as part of the developing Black Skylark Singing imprint. One has to give Rep. Carter kudos for mentioning the book in his birthday acknowledgement and resisting any urge to modify the title:
RECOGNIZING MIRIAM CENTER'S 90TH BIRTHDAY
HON. EARL L. ``BUDDY'' CARTER
of Georgia in the House of Representatives
Monday, July 18, 2016
Mr. CARTER of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Miriam
K. Center of Savannah, Georgia, for her 90th birthday on August 10th.
At 90 years old, Ms. Center continues to be an impressive member and contributor to the coastal Georgia community.
She graduated from Savannah High School in 1944 and promptly joined the Savannah volunteers to help American troops fighting in World War II. After the war, Miriam married Leo Center and helped him found a prominent, local Savannah business. Miriam and Leo had 3 sons together,Henry, Tony, and Scott.
Since then, Miriam has been greatly involved in public service as she
served as Chair of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Planning
Commission, ran for election to the Georgia State Senate, and for
Savannah Alderwoman. In 2000, she wrote a book entitled Scarlett O'Hara Can Go to Hell and produced the currently showing play, Johnny and Me, which chronicles her friendship with Savannah's Academy Award winning songwriter, Johnny Mercer. She is also a frequent guest writer to the Savannah Morning News.
Miriam has traveled the world, visiting England, France, Spain,
Greece, Israel, Russia, and much of North America.
Ms. Center, I hope you have a happy 90th birthday.
(2nd Session of 114th Congress)
Knowing Ms. Center, and barring any unforeseen extraordinary occurrences, she will not only have a happy 90th birthday but an outright party-thumping blast of a celebration.
Having shared as many cultural escapades with the author as I have, she’s bound to make one or two guest appearances in the pages of my current book-in-progress. More than likely they will take place in the sections dealing with my days of working as a bookseller when John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil made him a bestselling author and encouraged people in Savannah extend general interpretations of the word “nutty.”
Johnny Mercer and Miriam
Much gratitude to photographer extraordinaire John Zeuli for use of his beautiful photograph of Miriam.
© Bright Skylark Literary Productions