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African American Poets and Poetry: Welcome

Famous Poets

Langston Hughes.

Langston Hughes.  The poet, playwright, and novelist Langston Hughes was one of the leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance.

(Library of Congress.)

What is African American Poetry?

 

Werner, Craig, et al. "African American Poetry." Salem Press Encyclopedia of Literature, 2017. EBSCOhost,

Double Consciousness

The struggle for freedom—social, psychological, and aesthetic—is the distinguishing attribute of African American poetry from its origins during slavery through its pluralistic flowering in the twentieth century. Although the impact of the struggle has only intermittently been simple or direct, it has remained a constant presence, both for writers concentrating directly on the continuing oppression of the black community and for those forging highly individualistic poetic voices not primarily concerned with racial issues.

Generally, two basic “voices” characterize the African American poetic sensibility. First, black poets attempting to survive in a literary market dominated by white publishers and audiences have felt the need to demonstrate their ability to match the accomplishments of white poets in traditional forms. From the couplets of Phillis Wheatley through the sonnets of Claude McKay to the modernist montages of Robert Hayden to the rap and hip-hop stylings of Queen Latifah, Public Enemy, Ice-T, Mos Def, Tupac Shakur, and KRS-One, African American poets have mastered the full range of voices associated with the evolving poetic mainstream. Second, black poets have been equally concerned with forging distinctive voices reflecting both their individual sensibilities and the specifically African American cultural tradition.

This dual focus within the African American sensibility reflects the presence of what W. E. B. Du Bois identified as a “double-consciousness” that forces the black writer to perceive himself or herself as both an “American” and a “Negro.” The greatest African American poets—Langston Hughes, Sterling A. Brown, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, Amiri Baraka, Maya Angelou, Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Kevin Powell—draw on this tension as a source of both formal and thematic power, helping them to construct a poetry that is at once unmistakably black and universally resonant. (Click here to continue.)

Poetry Month 2018

 

 

 

Library of Congress: New Recordings Online for National Poetry Month. "National Poetry Month is here, and we’re over the moon to announce the release of 50 additional recordings from the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, now available to stream online. The archive—a collection dating back to 1943, when Allen Tate was consultant in poetry—contains nearly 2,000 audio recordings of celebrated poets and writers participating in literary events at the Library of Congress, along with sessions recorded in the recording laboratory in the Library’s Jefferson Building. Most of these recordings were originally captured on magnetic tape reels and have only been accessible by visiting the Library in person."

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