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African-American Poets: 1700s-1940s (Bloom's Modern Critical by Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom

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By Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom

Makes a speciality of the crucial African-American poets from colonial occasions to the Harlem Renaissance and the realm battle II period. This name covers poets that come with Phillis Wheatley, writer of the 1st quantity of verse released via an African American, and the seminal figures Gwendolyn Brooks, Countee Cullen, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Langston Hughes.

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Extra resources for African-American Poets: 1700s-1940s (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)

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Saunders Redding, “American Negro Literature,” The American Scholar, XVIII (1949): 137–148. 9. M. Walker, “New Poets,” Phylon XI (1950): 345–354. Walker discusses how white critics seemed to “beg the question of the Negro’s humanity, perhaps as an answer to the white patron’s attitude that Negroes are only children anyway” (346). Arna Bontemps, “Negro Poets, Then and Now,” Phylon XI (1950): 355–360. Bontemps articulates the feeling of “injustice” some poets felt when critics insistently labeled them “Negro poets”: “As was the case with Countee Cullen, one gets the impression that Hayden is bothered by this Negro thing.

In Rosey E. Pool, Beyond the Blues (London: Hand and Flower, 1962), Hayden discusses when he wrote “propaganda rather than poetry” (24–25). 13. Llorens, Negro Digest, Tolson made his well-known comment at the same 1966 writer’s conference attended by Hayden, n12. 14. Lee, Kaleidoscope, abruptly dismisses the technical proficiency of Tolson’s work: “Melvin B. Tolson is represented with some of his less obscure poetry which still exhibits his range and his capacity to lose the people that may read him” (91).

The “us” Brooks refers to in a 1940s context would have included her literary peers, Hayden, Walker, and Tolson. In her essay, “Poets Who are Negroes,” Brooks clarifies the literary gauntlet that had been thrust in front of the Black writer: no real artist is going to be content with offering raw materials. The Negro poet’s most urgent duty, at present, is to polish his technique, his way of presenting his truths and his beauties, that these may be more insinuating, and therefore, more overwhelming.

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