Poet, Traveler Brown Ain't Chicken
Tammy L. Brown CLASS OF 1998
"I Ain't Chicken," dares the poem Tammy L. Brown '98 chose to lead off the collection of her poems she self-published before trading Cincinnati for Cambridge in the fall of 1994.
It's an attitude that has stayed with Brown throughout her time at Harvard, whether she's traveling to South Africa to conduct thesis research on violence against women or producing, co-directing, writing and starring in her own "choreopoem," I Cannot Be Moved, last year.
Brown, who will spend the coming year focusing on her artistic endeavors and taking a break from school in general, plans to head to graduate school for her Ph.D. next, preferably at Oxford.
Though she wants to teach at the college level eventually, that's not first on the agenda after the doctorate--"I want to blow up on another front," she says, listing artistic work or hands-on diplomacy as possible arenas.
"I don't like boundaries and borders," Brown repeats, explaining her interest in studying and living in other nations.
"I'm just international at heart," says the history concentrator, who specialized in international relations. "[The world's] just as big as you can think."
Going to South Africa for thesis research--her first trip to Africa--was a chance to meet some of South Africa's most famous freedom fighters, learn Zulu and talk about popular culture with citizens she met there.
But her first purpose and passion was examining the issue of domestic violence in South Africa, which police statistics show is worse than in any other country.
"It was an exciting time to study a place that's really at the crossroads," says Brown, who argued that greater comfort in reporting the violence, due to a more black-friendly judiciary and the international women's movement, was a large factor in the increased reportage.
But Brown's love of international climates and her ease in the Harvard environment can be partly explained by the fact that she ain't chicken--she jumps into experiences, but with a solid base and a willingness to try something new, as her reminiscences about Harvard show.
"I don't really go with expectations so I'm not disappointed. I go knowing I'm going to do the best I can," she says.
But she notes that the foundation of her family (besides her parents, she has three older siblings) and her own spirituality have given her a base for her time here that some students lack.
"Faith has gotten me through my Harvard experience--sane," she says with a smile.