Vera Pilgrim and the Ritual of the Dolphins

I am pleased to announce the publication of my fourth book!

Generously crowd-funded, by you, through my successful Kickstarter campaign.
More information and an introductory vide can be found on the Kickstarter page.

This book is available to purchase through Outskirts Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, as well as through independent booksellers, in paperback, hardcover, and ebook formats.

Click here for purchasing options:

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Vera Pilgrim and the Ritual of the Dolphins

Vera Pilgrim and the Ritual of the Dolphins is a novel that comes out of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. The book is an epic survey with psychological and cultural contexts. It spans history from the African slave trade to the contemporary challenges of an increasingly multicultural America. Against the backdrop of myth, it vividly brings back the powerful music of the 1960s, the political tensions, the energy and tumult of the movement, the dramatic force of voter registration drives, marches, protests and rallies as the winds of change swept the country. The book employs elements of magical realism to evoke the spirit of that era.

Vera Pilgrim, who has survived an abusive childhood to become a charismatic national leader, heads a cast of indelible characters. Parallels between Vera’s life and character, and those of Sojourner Truth, the 19th-century abolitionist and feminist, are central to the novel’s mythic dimension. So are the two compelling dolphins Vera encounters, and the ancient ritual they are destined to fulfill together. The book is structured as an extended metaphor. Vera is an archetypal figure who strides across the stage of history engaging historical and fictional people and situations. Flashbacks, twists and turns ultimately lead to an unanticipated and uplifting conclusion.

New! - The Music of Vera Pilgrim and the Ritual of the Dolphins

The novel is woven through with a tapestry of music. Vibrant stories are influenced by a wide range of songs, artists, and genres. The book becomes richer when the reader is able to hear the same soundtrack as the characters.

Click here for an interactive playlist that contains a sampling of specific songs and artists, roughly in the order they are mentioned in the book.

As we expand the website we will be adding more musical content in the form of links, videos, and descriptions, to complement the book and share with readers this important historical, emotional, and sensory experience.

The music of Vera Pilgrim

A reader’s reaction to Vera Pilgrim and the Ritual of the Dolphins:

By Clanzenetta "Mickee" Brown
Editorial consultant, Special Project Partners

December 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Vera Pilgrim and the Ritual of the Dolphins by Bryant Rollins. This story really captured my imagination, providing great insight into the life of many Blacks who came of age in the mid twentieth century.

On a personal level, I identified with Vera, as I too am a 40-something black woman trying to navigate today’s world, which is not that different from Vera’s world 23 years ago. She and I also share the joys of parenting defiant Aries sons. I must say that I rather enjoyed the jumps in time; this is not a story that should be told chronologically.

Structure of the Book
The structure of the book pays metaphorical homage to the philosophies and science discussed in the story. If ‘everything is everything’, then ‘every time is every time'. High school physics taught me that time is not a straight line, but a winding path unconstrained by our notions of past, present, and future.

Vera Pilgrim should appeal to a wide range of readers, especially those interested in science fiction/fantasy, historical, women-centered, African-American, and ecology focused fiction. The general fiction reader would be similarly interested because Vera is a very compelling character. She is a goddess, healer, giver of life, and keeper of a people’s spirit.

The awakening of the book's mystical dolphins due to the brutality of the slave trade is very powerful. I read this as if the dolphins achieved a new consciousness because an unspeakable crime against humanity occurred in their watery turf, making them forever connected to the people of the African Diaspora.

The Men in her Life
I like the variety of men in Vera's life, they make her journey very real - Baumfree, her alcoholic father; Little Boy, her scared/scarred brother; Robert, her first lover; Fredrick, the tormentor/teacher; Joshua and Mathias, her saviors; Claude and Anthony, her brothers in the struggle during the Civil Rights Movement in the Mississippi Delta; Rev. Kennedy, the witness to her power; Peter, her resentful teen son; and JB, who in Vera has his work validated. They all represent the body of what men require of women - daughter, sister, lover, muse, mother, caretaker, and more. I think it is these men who make Vera Pilgrim the legend.

The Women in her Life
The women in Vera's life are loyal, loving, passive, cruel, judgmental, mentally unstable, and spiritually corrupt. It is these characters that create the spirit of Vera Pilgrim. Elizabeth is the mentally ill mother with visions and wise counsel. Mary Dumont is torn between kindness and cruelty as embodied by her daughters Katie and Gert. Sarah is the loyal friend to the end, terminal sidekick and co-creator of Vera’s life work. The ancient women who reside in her consciousness and those powerful women from history - Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hammer - also contribute to making Vera’s unfailing spirit. It is Mary seeking forgiveness and the women of the Tribe at Smith College who force Vera to acknowledge who she really is versus the myths that others hold about her.

This method of looking at the world becomes a way to prompt the reader to recognize the characters as archetypes, opening a door for the reader to see that they have precedents in literature, life, and human myth. For example, it is obvious that Lucy the prototypical female spawned Vera, and that Sojourner Truth is an archetype for the woman soldier/leader, a lineage that Vera shares.

When we first meet Vera, we know she is not ordinary, she is a queen. In my mind’s eye, I imagine her to be very regal. Though I imagine she would reject such titles. Vera is as much a victim of her circumstances as she is the master of her fate. In reading her I am struck by how self-possessed she is and how much who she is has been informed by powerful external forces - benevolent and otherwise.

The Vera Pilgrim Project

Imagine this book as a seed planted in fertile soil, the aspirations of people everywhere to live in communities that gather in peaceful and open dialogue to rejuvenate their lives and society.

Envision small groups organizing on a massive scale to reflect on Vera Pilgrim, the challenging messages, themes, characters, myths, rituals and histories presented in this book.

Imagine deeply personal, intimate conversations of introspection and sharing that, as with Vera, serve to heal divisions within and in the community at large.

Envision such dialogue underway in public schools, colleges and universities, in faith-based organizations, in the workplace, at all levels of government, in social service agencies.

Walk the path with Vera Pilgrim. The seeds are planted and ready to grow to fruition. Welcome to my website. Now, look within.