By Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom
This quantity makes a speciality of the central African-American poets from colonial occasions to the Harlem Renaissance and the realm warfare II period, paying tribute to a wealthy historical past that has deeply prompted the nation's literature. Poets lined during this quantity comprise 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, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer. entire with a chronology, bibliography, and notes at the individuals, this new quantity within the "Bloom's smooth serious perspectives" sequence additionally positive factors an essay by way of famous literary critic Harold Bloom, who introduces the amount along with his options in this crew of bright poets whose paintings has altered the panorama of yank literature
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Additional info for African-American Poets: 1700s-1940s
In an interview with Ida Lewis, Brooks comments on how she viewed the Black world in the 1940s and 50s: “I thought that integration was the solution. All we had to do was keep on appealing to the whites to help us, and they would” (RPO 175). Likewise, there was no question in her mind as to the identity of the target audience for her poetry: “It was whites who were reading and listening to us” (RPO 176). The “us” Brooks refers to in a 1940s context would have included her literary peers, Hayden, Walker, and Tolson.
I have chosen my melodies and rhythms by instinct, and I have favored words and figures which flow smoothly and harmoniously into my compositions. And in 40 Wolfgang Karrer all my moods I have striven to achieve directness, truthfulness and naturalness of expression instead of enameled originality. I have not hesitated to use words which are old, and in some circles considered poetically overworked and dead, when I thought I could make them glow alive by new manipulation. (xx) This is a clearly premodernist position: feelings are poured into forms, and “smoothly” and “harmoniously” are hardly modernist concepts.
1 Why did Brooks opt to approach the story of women—motherhood, daughterhood, womanhood—from such a complex technical perspective? Who constructed the artistic proving ground that demanded such a grueling exercise in prosody, language, and imagery? What were the rewards? What, in essence, were the conditions, social and literary, contributing to her need to create a framework of a classical mockepic as the vessel for a colloquial tale? The social and literary climate of Brooks’ second book of poetry, Annie Allen (1949), was strategically impacted by the new spirit of optimism emanating from the postwar period of the 1940s.
African-American Poets: 1700s-1940s by Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom