Gifts of the Poets: Eugene B. Redmond and Coleman Barks (part 1)

 

Cover of

Cover of Visible Man: The Life of Henry Dumas by Jeffrey B. Leak

Among the greatest gifts that poets bestow upon each other’s lives are those of identity and validation. It is often through the mirror of words, meaning, and soul created by one poet that another begins to recognize the true significance of his or her nature. It is also, sometimes, by virtue of the labors of one poet that the stylized reverberations of another is amplified and takes its rightful place within the larger chorus of such voices.

When considering the last scenario, the following are but two notable examples: the first is that of author, editor, and photographer Eugene Redmond, whose efforts to preserve the literary legacy of poet and fiction writer Henry Dumas made it possible for many to enjoy Dumas’ formidable works after he was shot to death in 1968. The second is Coleman Barks, the well-known educator and author whose translated interpretations of the life and work of Jalalludin Rumi have placed Rumi’s name among the most famous either living or dead.

 

Eugene B. Redmond

Redmond has authored some seven volumes of poetry, most of which were published from 1969 to 1974 during the Black Arts Movement. He has edited many more and in 1976 was named Poet Laureate of East St. Louis, Illinois. His numerous awards and distinctions include a Pushcart Prize, a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant, an American Book Award in 1993 for The Eye in the Ceiling: Selected Poems, and the St. Louis American Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

Please click the link to enjoy the full article by Aberjhani: Gifts of the poets: Eugene B. Redmond and Coleman Barks (part 1) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

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Text and Meaning in T.J. Reddy’s Poems in One-Part Harmony (part 1 of 4)

Cover of poet-artist T.J. Reddy's classic antiracism volume

T.J. Rdddy’s “Poems in One-Part Harmony”: A rediscovered classic by a hidden treasure of American art and literature.

“And the syndrome goes on;
this is only a poem,
wondering when to our senses
we will come home.”
––T.J. Reddy (from A Poem About A Syndrome)

Most of the more celebrated names among African-American authors, poets, and artists are known to the world because of their association with specific cultural arts movements. The recently-deceased  Amiri Baraka has been identified as a hero of both the late 1950s Beat Movement and the 1960s and 1970s Black Arts Movement. Poets such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Sterling Brown remain renowned for their link to the Harlem Renaissance.

One of the more powerful qualities of such movements is that they often inspire more creative genius than the world takes time to recognize. Or sometimes they produce creative thinkers of a type that “others” tend to fear and consequently attempt to destroy. It is possible both these scenarios may be applied to the poet, visual artist, human rights advocate, and educator known as T.J. Reddy.

A Select Catalog Listing

As a painter, Reddy’s work reflects the traditions of the Harlem Renaissance and the colors of the tropics––blazing reds, yellows, oranges and turquoise––assembled to present absorbing visual narratives on the culture and history of people of African descent. As a poet, he occupies a self-constructed space that bridges the aesthetic qualities and cultural concerns of fellow wordsmiths such as Haki Madhubuti, Etheridge Knight, and Henry Dumas. As an advocate for racial and social equality, he holds the uneasy distinction of having been one of “The Charlotte Three.”

His first book of poems, Less Than a Score But a Point, was published by no less than Random House’s Vintage Books imprint in 1974. That singular event literally placed his name in a select catalog listing beside some of literature’s most noted pens. They included those of: Langston Hughes, W.H. Auden, Albert Camus, William Faulkner, Sylvia Plath, Marcel Proust, Jean Paul Sartre, and Quincy Troupe.

To read the complete powerful story by Aberjhani please click this url:
Text and Meaning in T.J. Reddy’s Poems in One-Part Harmony (part 1 of 4) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

Honoring the Life and Legacy of Amiri Baraka

The Great Author Amiri Baraka (photo by Lynda Koolish)

Amiri Baraka with poems and mic in hand. (photo by Lynda Koolish)

This story was first published as part 2 of the article “Two Literary Laureates Celebrated: Herta Muller and Amiri Baraka.” It is presented now to honor the life and legacy of the great African-American literary powerhouse Amiri Baraka (Oct 7, 1934-Jan 9, 2014).

While his was not among the names short-listed for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Amiri Baraka has long been lionized for his tell-tale intellectually precise yet poetic analysis of U.S. culture and his fire-brand style of political truth-telling.

A playwright, novelist, poet, essayist, short-story writer and performance artist all wrapped into one, the Newark-born Baraka attended Rutgers and Howard Universities and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He launched his writing career under the name LeRoi Jones with the 1958 play, A Good Girl is Hard to Find, produced in Montclair, New Jersey. He went on to confirm the promise evident in his early efforts with the 1961 publication of his first major collection of poetry, Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note, and the 1964 Obie-winning play Dutchman, among other published and performed works.

These early years of Baraka’s career are often described as his “Beat” period both for the influence of jazz and blues music upon his writings and because of his literary affiliation with such Beat writers as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, many of whose work he published in a literary magazine called Yugen.

Like Haki R. Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, Eugene Redmond, Nikki Giovanni, and a number of other African-American litterateurs still writing today, Baraka became a major voice of the 1960s Black Arts Movement that championed both the re-publication of classic works by Harlem Renaissance authors and the publication of new works by emerging black authors of the era.

To read more of the complete article by Aberjhani please click the link: Two Literary Laureates Celebrated: Herta Müller and Amiri Baraka (Part 2) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.