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Thread: Celebrating Black-American Literature

  1. #46
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    Mary Weston Fordham 1862?–1905

    Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Weston_Fordham

    Introduction to Mary's book Magnolia Leaves by Booker T. Washington:

    INTRODUCTORY.
    I give my cordial endorsement to this little "Book of Poems," because I believe it will do its part to awaken the Muse of Poetry which I am sure slumbers in very many of the Sons and Daughters of the Race of which the Author of this work is a representative.

    The Negro's right to be considered worthy of recognition in the field of poetic effort is not now gainsaid as formerly, and each succeeding effort but emphasizes his right to just consideration.

    The hope, I have, is, that this volume of "Poems" may fall among the critical and intelligent, who will accord the just meed of praise or of censure, to the end that further effort may be stimulated, no matter what the verdict.

    The readers I trust will find as much to praise and admire as I have done.

    BOOKER T. WASHINGTON,

    Prin. Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute.Tuskegee, Ala.December 6th, 1897.
    Link to the eText of Magnolia Leaves: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/a/amverse...;view=fulltext

    Mary's collection of poems on PoemHunter (65 of 66 ?):

    https://www.poemhunter.com/mary-west...-2/?a=a&l=3&y=

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  2. #47
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    Frances E.W. Harper 1825 - 1911

    Poet, abolitionist, feminist, anti-slavery lecturer/orator... great American.

    Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Harper

    From biography.com https://www.biography.com/people/fra...w-harper-40710:
    In 1854, Harper published Poems of Miscellaneous Subjects, which featured one of her most famous works, "Bury Me in a Free Land." She also became an in-demand lecturer on behalf of the abolitionist movement, appearing with the likes of Frederick Douglass, William Garrison, Lucretia Mott and Lucy Stone.

    Harper made literary history in 1859 with the publication of "Two Offers". With this work, she became the first African-American female writer to publish a short story.
    Frances' poem Bury Me in a Free Land with commentary and analysis https://www.theguardian.com/books/bo...nces-ew-harper

    An interesting guide on teaching the student about Frances Harper and her writings: Source: http://faculty.georgetown.edu/bassr/...e/harperf.html
    Harper, like Emerson, is ever the teacher and preacher, but the philosophy that she comes out of and lives is not, like his, individualistic--not focused on the self or Self. It is group-centered. I think that this is one of the most important points to make about Harper...

    In her own time Harper was very popular and widely acclaimed, especially among black people. She was the best-known black poet between Phillis Wheatley and Paul Laurence Dunbar. "The Two Offers" is probably the first short story published in the U.S. by any black author. For many years "Iola Leroy" was considered the first novel written by a black American woman. Harper's public speaking was uniformly praised as brilliant.
    From Why Americans Know Frederick Douglass but not Frances Harper January 25, 2018, by Koritha Mitchell:
    http://www.korithamitchell.com/ameri...rances-harper/
    In short, Harper’s life and work exemplify the tradition among black women to engage in justice-oriented activism not only while encountering hostility but also whether or not they receive the recognition that seem to flow to their black male and white woman colleagues.
    eText of Atlanta Offering: Poems by Frances E.W. Harper, Miami, Florida, First published 1895 Reprinted 1969 Reprinted from a copy in the Negro Collection of the Fiske University Library": https://quod.lib.umich.edu/a/amverse...;view=fulltext

    (5) Project Gutenberg eBooks by Frances offered including Iola Leroy; or Shadows Uplifted - http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/345 * Note: Copyrights will vary from country to country.

    Wikisource (downloads) including Poems of Miscellaneous Subjects: click the (External scan) links -
    https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author:Frances_Harper


    Ta ! (short for tarradiddle),
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    GAMMA: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e...AwjJkFoDaM/pub
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  3. #48
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    Jean Toomer; aka Nathaniel Jean Toomer; aka Nathan Eugene "Jean" Pinchback Toomer

    1894 - 1967

    African American teacher of philosophy, novelist, and poet loosely associated with the Harlem Renaissance.

    Bio at AfricanAmerican.org http://www.africanamerica.org/topic/...el-jean-toomer:
    He taught philosophy in Harlem and Chicago until the mid-1930s. Toomer wrote voluminously until his death, and although much of his writing received occasional praise for its experimentation, African-Americans largely dismissed it.
    Poetry Foundation bio and selected poems: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/jean-toomer

    Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Toomer

    24- poems: https://www.poetrynook.com/poet/jean-toomer

    17- poems: https://mypoeticside.com/poets/jean-toomer-poems

    Jean Toomer and the Politics and Poetics of National Identity
    Onita Estes--Hicks, State University of New York at Old Westbury January 1985: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/v...6&context=cibs

    Race and Religion in Jean Toomer’s "Cane" by Carley Charbonneau: https://carleycharbonneau.files.word...omers-cane.pdf

    An analysis of The Blue Meridian:

    http://images.slideplayer.com/32/993...es/slide_6.jpg

    https://www.enotes.com/topics/blue-meridian/in-depth

    The Yale University Jean Toomer papers: http://www.math.buffalo.edu/~sww/too...papersYale.pdf

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    GAMMA: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e...AwjJkFoDaM/pub
    Last edited by tailor STATELY; 04-18-2018 at 09:13 AM. Reason: Font / cleaning up
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    Thanks for these posts, Tailor!

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    Diane Oliver

    In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's death yesterday, it might be appropriate to cite an example of the type of injustice which the Civil Rights Movement hoped to eradicate. As Dr. King unknowingly approached the end of his life, the Civil Rights movement was pointed toward the future, by beginning to expand its focus on other pressing issues of the day, such as poverty and the anti-war movement, notably with fair educational practices. Thus, the inspiration for today's posting:


    Diane Oliver

    In 1943 Diane Oliver was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, a daughter of a public school educator and his wife, a piano teacher. Diane attended segregated elementary schools, despite the fact that she was an elementary school pupil in 1954 when the historic Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education occurred.

    By the time she reached college age, she was a member of only the second integrated freshman class to be admitted into Women’s College (later known as University of North Carolina at Greensboro.)

    After winning a fiction-writing contest for a young women’s magazine, Diane had the opportunity to live and study in England and Switzerland before returning to the United States. She studied at the prestigious Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa until she died in an auto accident in 1966, when she was awarded her MFA posthumously.

    Because her career was cut short, Diane Oliver’s body of work makes up in quality what it necessarily lacks in quantity. She made significant and relevant artistic choices.

    For instance, the progress of school integration developed painfully slowly, not without extreme anguish for the families and young pioneers who were the first to break this seemingly adamantine color line. Having witnessed a friend enduring such an ordeal, Diane later used the material for the most famous of her stories, “Neighbors.”

    The narrator of the story is Ellie, a young adult whose family is in a state of turmoil the day before her brother is scheduled to transfer schools– his first day in an all-white school. The subtle unfolding of emotions, such as showing the family going about their daily routines both before and after a sudden dramatic event, gives the story authenticity.

    In addition, like “if We Must Die” by Junius Edwards, “Neighbors” can be categorized as a work of art accurately reflecting historic events and conditions as they are occurring.

    “Neighbors”can be found online and also in several anthologies, including Modern Short Stories: The Uses of Imagination, edited by Arthur Mizener, published by Norton in 1971, with a subsequent edition eight years later.
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 05-04-2018 at 02:39 PM. Reason: Run on sentence

  6. #51
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    Tracy K. Smith

    Tracy K. Smith (born April 16, 1972) is an American poet and educator. She is currently serving as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States, an office she assumed in 2017. She has published three collections of poetry, winning the Pulitzer Prize for her 2011 volume Life on Mars." " In April 2018, she was nominated for a second term as United States Poet Laureate by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.
    - Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracy_K._Smith

    Blue Flower Arts pages about Tracy: http://blueflowerarts.com/artist/tracy-k-smith/

    Article, March 22, 2018: "Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith on America’s Troubled Racial History" - https://www.vogue.com/article/tracy-...gue-april-2018

    Youtube videos of Tracy reading her poem Wade in the Water: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0znrveDbNI

    Reading from Life on Mars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLIH6ewfplA

    Reading from Ordinary Light: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsXW...g&pbjreload=10

    Poetry Foundation:

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poe.../tracy-k-smith

    Poem My God, It's Full of Stars - https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poe...s/detail/55519

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    Robert Hayden August 4, 1913 – February 25, 1980

    Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Hayden

    Hayden’s influences included Wylie, Cullen, Dunbar, Hughes, Bontemps, Keats, Auden and Yeats. Hayden’s work often addressed the plight of African Americans, usually using his former home of Paradise Valley slum (Detroit, Michigan) as a backdrop, as he does in the poem "Heart-Shape in the Dust". Hayden’s work made ready use of black vernacular and folk speech. Hayden wrote political poetry as well, including a sequence on the Vietnam War.

    On the first poem of the sequence, he said: “I was trying to convey the idea that the horrors of the war became a kind of presence, and they were with you in the most personal and intimate activity, having your meals and so on. Everything was touched by the horror and the brutality and criminality of war. I feel that's one of the best of the poems.
    From Modern American Poetry: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps...ayden/life.htm

    Robert Hayden looms as one of the most technically gifted and conceptually expansive poets in American and African American letters. Attending to the specificities of race and culture, Hayden's poetry takes up the sobering concerns of African American social and political plight; yet his poetry posits race as a means through which one contemplates the expansive possibilities of language, and the transformational power of art. An award-winning poet of voice, symbol, and lyricism, Hayden's poetry celebrates human essence.
    12 Poems: http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets...t_hayden/poems

    Ta ! (short for tarradiddle),
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  8. #53
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    Amiri Baraka (born Everett LeRoi Jones; October 7, 1934 – January 9, 2014), a.k.a. LeRoi Jones and Imamu Amear Baraka

    Poet, playwright, activist, essayist, Professor, Poet Laureate of New Jersey, and poet laureate of the Newark Public Schools. He "received honors from a number of prestigious foundations, including: fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Langston Hughes Award from the City College of New York, the Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama, an induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Before Columbus Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award."...

    In Rain Taxi, Richard Oyama criticized Baraka's militant aesthetic...In the end, Baraka's work suffered because he preferred ideology over art, forgetting the latter outlasts us all.
    In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante included Amiri Baraka on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.
    Above cited from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amiri_Baraka

    From http://www.amiribaraka.com/ :
    The literary world respects the playwright and poet, Amiri Baraka as one of the revolutionary provocateurs of African-American poetry. He is counted among the few influential political activists who have spent most of their life time fighting for the rights of African-Americans.
    YouTube: "Amiri Baraka on his poetry and breaking rules": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHG60P2ECNk

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  9. #54
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    Frank Marshall Davis 1905 - 1987

    Poet, activist, and journalist.

    Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Marshall_Davis

    Quotes from Poetry Foundation - https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poe...marshall-davis :

    Although critics have disagreed about the value of Davis' poetry—whether at times he is presenting poetry or propaganda, poetry or prose—as Black Literature Criticism concludes, "few dispute the sociological and historical value of his works.
    Yet his poetry will be remembered for more than its sound and its social commentary, observes Helena Kloder in CLA Journal, who believes that Davis' greatest strength lies in his creation of visual art, calling his poetry "a force of verbal kodacolor snapshots and reels of spliced, almost always precisely edited, motion pictures" which offer readers "an assortment of colorful, realistic portraits of Americans (black and white), their lifestyles, their visions."
    Rice & Roses Documentary in 3-parts including: poetry readings, interviews, history, and jazz (YouTube)
    • Part 1... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUgF7-psibk
    • Part 2... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30J37bHFeCU
    • Part 3... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vaWyyOUa3g

    Ta ! (short for tarradiddle),
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  10. #55
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    George Moses Horton 1798 ? - 1884 ?

    Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Moses_Horton ... Poet: "the first to be published in the Southern United States. His book The Hope of Liberty was published in 1829 while he was still enslaved."

    "Horton's poetic style was typical of contemporary European poetry and was similar to poems written by free white contemporaries, likely a reflection of his reading and his work for commission.[3] He wrote both sonnets and ballads. His earlier works focused on his life in slavery."

    Poetry Foundation: Bio and 8-poems -

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poe...e-moses-horton

    Poem Hunter: 69 poems -

    https://www.poemhunter.com/george-moses-horton/poems/

    Several videos:

    https://www.google.com/search?client...UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

    Ta ! (short for tarradiddle),
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    Enchant Me

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  11. #56
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    Lucille Clifton 1936 - 2010

    "In addition to the Ruth Lilly prize, Clifton was the first author to have two books of poetry chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980 (1987) and Next: New Poems (1987)." - PoetryFoundation.org; bio and poems:

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/lucille-clifton

    Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucille_Clifton

    "The Poet's Reflections on What Poetry Is" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfYCRZ9LVh4

    Lucille speaking of her works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPr6EOggzm0

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  12. #57
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    Wanda Coleman

    Wanda Coleman

    Dubbed the “unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles” along with “L.A. Blueswoman,” Wanda Coleman (1946-2013) is still another literary light who deserved more recognition in her lifetime.

    The samples of her poems offered online display a breathy naturalism, the kind of improvisational quality heard in good jazz. The subject matter is detailed, realistic, and affecting. A free-wheeling “On the Road” type of sensibility echoes through “In that Other Fantasy Where We Live Forever,” with a definite undertone of sorrow, both historical and personal.

    Despite their seemingly colloquial diction, these poems blend form and content in a way similar to the tradition of Metaphysical poets. Additionally, as evident in poems such as “Mastectomy,” Wanda Coleman has ability to make a poem “do what it says.”

    One of Wanda Coleman’s most significant contributions is the creation (or re-creation) of an age-old poetic form, now called the “American sonnet.”
    (More about this next time.)



    https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/wanda-coleman



    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanda_Coleman

  13. #58
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    Gil Scott-Heron 1949 – 2011

    Writer, poet, musician.

    https://www.poemhunter.com/gil-scott-heron/
    I ain’t saying I didn’t invent rapping,” says Gil Scott-Heron. “I just cannot recall the circumstances.
    Article: http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/48003/

    Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gil_Scott-Heron

    Poem "Black History": http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defc...ckhistory.html

    Obituary: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/a...ies-at-62.html -
    ... Yet, along with the work of the Last Poets, a group of black nationalist performance poets who emerged alongside him in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Mr. Scott-Heron established much of the attitude and the stylistic vocabulary that would characterize the socially conscious work of early rap groups like Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions. And he has remained part of the DNA of hip-hop by being sampled by stars like Kanye West.
    YouTube: "Gil Scott-Heron poetry (mostly)" - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...KOQtuhzT9Z4xNO

    Ta ! (short for tarradiddle),
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    Terrance Hayes

    In a recent issue of The New Yorker, Don Chiasson presents a profile of Terrance Hayes (b. 1971) with the publication of the poet’s new book,American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin.

    The new collection consists of 70 poems, each with the same title as the book. This unconventional repetition of individual titles is just one of the ways Terrance Hayes’s voice is original. Don Chiasson writes: “A former college basketball star, he treats poetry like a timed game, a theatre for dramatic last-minute outcomes.” Hayes himself describes the form as
    “part music box, part meat grinder.” Chiasson explains that the poems are not mere protest nor “invective but diagnosis.” Similar to some of the great Black American writers we’ve visited on this thread, Terrance Hayes has the ability to express both the biographical present and the historical past in the very same lines.

    Though Hayes states he is concerned with feeling, he seems to be adept with both language and the poetic form. The Italian and later English Renaissance sonnet, with its proscribed cadences and 14-line length, readily emigrated to these shores by the twentieth century, Chiasson says, with its “gait loosened, its politics sharpened.”

    The adapted form called the American sonnet first appeared with the poems of Wanda Coleman. (See #57 above.) In an earlier collection, Hayes paid tribute to his inspiration with “American Sonnet for Wanda C.” Like the last line of Wanda’s poem about a mastectomy, the last line of Hayes’s poem about her ends abruptly.

    As evident in the earlier poems, Hayes displays a facility, almost a playfulness, with language. Words starting with “c” (as in “Coleman”) abound, and the end words are slant rhymes, a technique perfected by Gwendolyn Brooks (also subject of a tribute in “The Golden Sword,” in a way a riff on Brooks’s “we real cool” poem.)

    Concerning Hayes’s word choice and interest in initial letters of words, the New Yorker critique includes one of the American sonnets which uses every letter of the alphabet. Such poems are “game-like,” Chiasson says. At times they seem like word puzzles.

    Hayes improvises like a jazz pianist; you can almost detect the angular near-dissonant notes of Thelonious Monk in some of those lines. Yet, at the same time Hayes keeps the language grounded, looking at it granularly-- not just as sentences but words, and not mere words but the letters which compose them. Is that the point, I wonder? Perhaps that’s what pure radicalism means: getting down to the root.

    The Hayes poems offered by the Poetry Foundation page show subject matter that is often painful and provocative, but the expression provides an affirmative experience. I am grateful to have learned about this exciting new poet!


    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/terrance-hayes

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