They show the great value of literary incubators like the Dark Room Collective, Cave Canem, and the numerous poetry associations that have sprung forth with the purpose of providing poets with an opportunity to cultivate their craft in a supportive environment. Like the poets who have come before them, they are wrestling with images and language to express contemporary life; they face the increasingly difficult challenge of utilizing the available technology to communicate their work; and they welcome the opportunity to strengthen the influence of African American poetry in the world.
Program I - Roots and First Fruits An important interpretive approach for Furious Flower: Regenerating the Black Poetic Tradition is to explore the extent of the indebtedness to the folk tradition in the poetry of some of the major voices in African American poetry in the 20th century. The anthology brings folkloristic references and theoretical discourse into the center of the literary criticism of African American poetry. The influence of folklore on black poetry is widely acknowledged and documented.
In Joanne Gabbin's critical biography Sterling A. Brown: Building the Black Aesthetic Tradition , she established the black vernacular tradition as the single most pervasive influence on his literary career.
Brown pursued the study of black folk songs, folk tales, proverbs, and folk speech for the sheer pleasure of revelation. The stuff of human social drama, the vigorous character traits, the vibrant speech and striking poetry, the patterns of spiritual struggle, the highly creative imagination brought Brown time and again to this folk source.
Below are the current titles through this month. Binding remains sound. Newer Post Older Post Home. Several years later, Cullen died from high blood pressure and uremic poisoning on January 9, African-American Writers. Howlett-West Books Professional seller. Small 8vo.
As he made the necessary connection between the vernacular tradition and the self-conscious writer, he identified in his own poetry and the writings of others their debt to the folk tradition. Houston A. Baker, Jr. He writes "that any future concept of expressive culture in the space constituted by AMERICA in the New World will be informed by vernacular inscriptions that qualitatively alter an idea that has prevailed since ", that "rather than being a nation of strangers in search of Anglo-male domestication, AMERICA has no strangers.
Rather than ignoring or denigrating the research and insights of scholars in natural, social, and behavioral sciences, the anthropology of art views such efforts as positive attempts to comprehend the multiple dimensions of human behavior.
Such efforts serve the investigator of expressive culture as guides and contributions to an understanding of symbolic dimensions of human behavior that comprise a culture's literature and verbal art. It is a goal of Furious Flower II to view African American poetry in the broadest of contexts, those inspired by African philosophical perspectives and those that reveal other international connections and frames of reference.
Critic Anand Prahlad, in his article "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: Folklore, Folkloristics, and African American Literary Criticism," African American Review, , sees literary approaches based upon vernacular exploration as viable theoretical strategies in their own right. He writes,. One cannot, for example, do justice to Ishmael Reed's writing without having a solid grounding in and understanding of the African-derived religion of Vodou, and one cannot gain such a knowledge without extensive reading of ethnographic and folkloristic materials.
The critic who approached Mumbo Jumbo should be as versed in the mythology and practices of Vodou and other New World African religions as the Western critic is in Greek and Christian mythology; otherwise, the meaning of rhetorical strategies such as signifying cannot be fully comprehended. Ignorance about elements of African, European, African American, and European American folklore leads to an inability to conceptualize African American literature in its broadest context, or to develop theoretical models that will be the most illuminating.
Program II - Cross-Pollination in the Diaspora Another focus of the anthology is to gauge the shared ideologies that impact black poetry in the diaspora, to discuss the challenges of language in multi-lingual societies, and to explore the ways these shared concerns are communicated. The richness of African American poetry is evident in the ability of poets to synthesize diverse traditions at hand. Sterling Brown called this process of synthesis "cross-pollination" and credits it with the creation of some of his best poetry. For example, in the comic ballad "Slim in Hell," Brown crosses the ancient legend of Orpheus and Eurydice with the elaborate lore of the folk trickster and presents them in the socio-historical context of twentieth-century Dixie.
The result is a vigorous product that maintains the strength of both traditions, while simultaneously exhibiting vital new combinations and varieties. Cross-pollination is also a major factor in the influence of African American poetry in an international context. During the s and s, the New Negro intellectuals participated in an unprecedented outpouring of creative energy in art and literature called the Harlem Renaissance, which made Harlem the black cultural and intellectual center of the world.
From there the messages of African pride, racial equality, political activism and militancy in the pages of Opportunity and Crisis reached thinkers and writers in Africa and the Caribbean. Leopold Sedar Senghor, one of the architects of the Negritude movement, attributes to Sterling Brown, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes and other writers of the Harlem Renaissance the inspiration for this cultural movement whose concepts fostered identity among black people in Africa and the diaspora.
In Paris, which was emerging as another important site of black intellectual life, African expatriates Leopold Senghor and David Diop and the West Indian intellectual Aime Cesaire pressed for worldwide unity among blacks and the end of colonialism in the pages of Negritude journals. This kind of cross-pollination was furthered by the Pan-Africanism in support of which W.
He and others such as Marcus Garvey advocated the idea of one African people involved in a global struggle to unite around a core culture and a singular political destiny -- liberation. Gwendolyn Brooks preferred the term "Black" over "African American" when referencing her poetry because it connected her with the parts of the family that live in Brazil, Haiti, France, or England. Wole Soyinka, winner of the Nobel Prize in , is emblematic of African poets who have excelled at using the conventions of poetry in English to reveal the riches of African cultural and mythic associations.
In his poetry, Soyinka speaks out so directly that he often incurs the wrath of politicians in power. He exemplifies the idea of the poet in the oral tradition who is the literal spokesman for the common people in the courts of the powerful. Derek Walcott, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in , sees himself as a living testimony to the dilemma of those of African descent in the New World. In his poem "A Far Cry," he writes, "I who am poisoned with the blood of both, where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
Issues in the Creation of Poetry The second theme explored in Furious Flower II is the use of technology and its impact on the nature and dissemination of poetic expression as it reaches wider and more diverse audiences. The explosion of performance poetry, for instance, has taken spoken art to new and enthusiastic audiences, as all that is needed is an open microphone. T he United States has been enjoying a sort of poetry renaissance. Currently the poetry slam, an event where drunken audiences hoot down sensitive poems about dying grandmothers or inevitable divorces and bestow twenty-dollar prizes on scatological doggerel, is sweeping the nation.
It's an amusement that seems to be a gold mine for saloonkeepers too sophisticated for Hot Buns contests. It has recently been possible to find at least three such events every week at different venues-even in a city like Houston. There are other critics who see performance poetry as a more egalitarian form.
Slam poet and literary activist Guy LeCharles Gonzalez says, "Slam has opened poetry to an entire generation that had no use for it thanks to our educational system. It is the America of the poetry world-the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Furious Flower II will chart the trends in this development to explore their impact over the next quarter century.
This interest in poetry was energized when, in , 18, people used the internet to share their favorite poems through Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project and were able to access a collection of short audio and video documentaries of people reading their favorite works. The Web also provides publishing access to those who could not dream of publishing a poem before as well as expanded capabilities through database searches and links to other sites.
Program III - Blooming in the Whirlwind This anthology also addresses the continuing challenge among African Americans and black poets abroad to merge the political and the literary into the "furious flower". Gwendolyn Brooks in the final lines of her poem "The Second Sermon on the Warpland" captures a signature theme in black poetry-liberation is a legacy that will require great courage and heroism of those who dare to inherit it.
She ends the sermon as she began it, with an imperative and a prayer:. It is lonesome, yes. For we are the last of the loud.
Nevertheless, live. Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind. Black poetry reflects the condition of the people who create it. As long as they have struggled for liberation, their poetic expression has been political. Scholar Manohar Samuel asks, "Can poetry be political, didactic and art? Jayne Cortez with her improvisational free form, in her struggle to define the black female in the context of family, class, body, spirit, and moral self, proves that it's possible to focus on these social issues--as well as drug addiction, persecution, rape, war, sexism, racism-- and create poems that stand on their own as works of solid art.
Finally, who will inherit this challenge? A major issue discussed in the video series is incubators that are providing a safe space in which younger poets can develop their craft and workshop their ideas. Pile in a car, read as the Collective for not very much money, split up the money.
It was like being in a band, really. We did that all over the Northeast. I think that's where everyone learned their chops -- learned how to read, mix it up. Roots and First Fruits. He received his B. Currently, he is the Susan Fox and George D. Beischer Professor of English at Duke University. He is the editor of American Literature, the oldest and most prestigious journal in American literary studies.
Baker has published or edited more than twenty books. He is the author of more than eighty articles, essays, and reviews. He is a published poet whose most recent title is Passing Over. His honors include Guggenheim, John Hay Whitney, and Rockefeller Fellowships, as well as eleven honorary degrees from American colleges and universities. Village Voice Literary Supplement , October , pp.
Gayle, Addison, Jr. Black World, , pp. Napier, Winston. New Literary History, Winter , p.
Who Reads Here? Novel, Fall , p. Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Volume Detroit: The Gale Group, Discuss Baker's use of the term "the poetry of impulse" and how it is related to the blues aesthetic. Nikky Finney is associate professor of creative writing at the University of Kentucky.
She published her first book of poems in , On Wings Made of Gauze.
Finney is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, a collective of Appalachian writers of African descent. Thompson, Kyle. Obsidian III, Fall , pp. Kraver, Jeraldine. The Southern Literary Journal, Spring , p. Dawes, Kwame. African American Review, Summer , p Suggestions for Additional Discussion Explore the way Nikky Finney uses photographs in Rice to construct the mythology of the family as institution and contrast the images in the photos with the images in the poetry.
Research the Affrilachian poets, and discuss how the movement has empowered African American poets in the Appalachian region. As an activist and political theorist, he co-authored Black Power Position Paper limning out a new movement. He was also a cultural theorist for the Liberator, an internationally focused Pan African magazine.
His poetry volumes are Juju, Songhai! Smethurst, James. African American Review, Summer , p. Gabbin, Joanne, Ed. Thomas, Lorenzo. Obsidian: Black Literature in Review, , pp. Gayle, Addison. Her latest book of poems is American Smooth. Shea, Renee. Conversations With Rita Dove. Righelato, Pat.
Yearbook of English Studies, 31 , pp. After Jackman died of cancer in , the collection at Clark Atlanta University was renamed as the Cullen-Jackman Collection to honor them both.
The Harlem Renaissance movement was centered in the cosmopolitan community of Harlem, in New York City, which had attracted talented migrants from across the country. During the s, a fresh generation of African-American writers emerged, although a few were Harlem-born.
Writers benefitted by newly available grants and scholarships, and supported by such established white writers as Carl Van Vechten. These poems examine African roots and intertwine them with a fresh aspect of African American life. Countee Cullen's work intersects with the Harlem community and such prominent figures of the Renaissance as Duke Ellington and poet and playwright Langston Hughes.
What is Africa to me: Copper sun or scarlet sea, Jungle star or jungle track, Strong bronzed men, or regal black Women from whose loins I sprang When the birds of Eden sang? One three centuries removed From the scenes his fathers loved, Spicy grove, cinnamon tree, What is Africa to me? From "Heritage" . The social, cultural, and artistic explosion known as the Harlem Renaissance was the first time in American history that a large body of literary, art and musical work was contributed by African-American writers and artists.
Countee Cullen was at the epicenter of this new-found surge in literature. Cullen considered poetry to be raceless. His poetry instead focused on idyllic beauty and other classic romantic subjects. Cullen worked as assistant editor for Opportunity magazine, where his column, "The Dark Tower", increased his literary reputation.
Cullen's poetry collections The Ballad of the Brown Girl and Copper Sun explored similar themes as Color , but they were not so well received. Cullen's Guggenheim Fellowship of enabled him to study and write abroad. Between the years and , Cullen traveled back and forth between France and the United States. By Cullen had published four volumes of poetry. The title poem of The Black Christ and Other Poems was criticized for the use of Christian religious imagery; Cullen compared the lynching of a black man to the crucifixion of Jesus.
As well as writing books, Cullen promoted the work of other black writers. But by Cullen's reputation as a poet waned. In his only novel was published, One Way to Heaven , a social comedy of lower-class blacks and the bourgeoisie in New York City. During this period, he also wrote two works for young readers: The Lost Zoo , poems about the animals who were killed in the Flood , and My Lives and How I Lost Them , an autobiography of his cat. Along with Herman W. Porter, he also provided guidance to a young James Baldwin during his time at the school. In the last years of his life, Cullen wrote mostly for the theatre.
Louis Woman , published The Broadway musical , set in a poor black neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri , was criticized by black intellectuals for creating a negative image of black Americans. In another stretch, Cullen translated the Greek tragedy Medea by Euripides , which was published in as The Medea and Some Poems , with a collection of sonnets and short lyrics.
Several years later, Cullen died from high blood pressure and uremic poisoning on January 9, Due to Cullen's mixed identity, he developed an aesthetic that embraced both black and white cultures.
Countee Cullen developed his Eurocentric style of writing from his exposure to Graeco-Roman Classics and English Literature, work he was exposed to while attending prestigious universities like New York University and Harvard. Cullen was also influenced by the Romantics and studied subjects of love, romance, and religion. Vincent Millay both influenced Cullen's style of writing. He writes, "As heretical as it may sound, there is the probability that Negro poets, dependent as they are on the English language, may have more to gain from the rich background of English and American poetry than form the nebulous atavistic yearnings towards an African inheritance.
Color is Countee Cullen's first published book and color is "in every sense its prevailing characteristic. It has been said that his poems fall into a variety of categories: those that with no mention were made of color. Secondly the poems that circled around the consciousness of African Americans and how being a "Negro in a day like this" in America is very cruel.
He discusses the psychology of African Americans in his writings and gives an extra dimension which forces the reader to see a harsh reality of Americas past time. Although it is published in Color, it originally appeared in The Survey , March 1, In Heritage, Countee Cullen grapples with the separation of his African culture and history created by the institution of slavery.
It was a place that he knew through someone else's description, passed down through generations. Throughout the poem, he struggles with the cost of the cultural conversion and religious conversion of his ancestors when they were away torn from Africa. The Black Christ was published at the height of Cullen's career in Theodore Roethke: Selected Poems Poets of the Civil War Emma Lazarus: Selected Poems 4.
John Berryman: Selected Poems William Carlos Williams: Selected Poems Amy Lowell: Selected Poems 4. Kenneth Fearing: Selected Poems Muriel Rukeyser: Selected Poems John Greenleaf Whittier: Selected Poems 4. Edgar Allan Poe: Poems and Poetics Yvor Winters: Selected Poems