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 |


3 Poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day: Number 1

        (Classic first-edition cover for I Made My Boy Out of Poetry featuring art by Gustave Blache III)

“Dedicated artists, innovators, and stewards of our language, they tell us not only who we are, but also who we can become. They distill our emotions, clarify our thoughts, and renew our spirits with the vigor of their words and the freshness of their perspective.” ––Former President Bill Clinton, from Letter Acknowledging Launch of National Poetry Month, April 1, 1996

Members of the Academy of American Poets had no way of knowing when they established National Poetry Month in 1996 that something called 9/11 would pop up on the radar screen of history just four years later. Although a man-made mass trauma, 9/11 was equal in emotional impact to what came later: the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake that took approximately 225 thousand lives, the 2010 earthquake that brought Haiti to its already weary knees with more than 300 thousand deaths, and the combined tsunami and nuclear disaster that rocked Fukushima in 2011.

Each of these horrors––as well as the epidemic of mass shootings that has plagued the United States since––threatened to unhinge individuals’ sanity in a permanent and unforgiving way. For many, orthodox religions provided some solace but not enough. Individuals often turned to poetry, not only to glean strength and perspective from the words of others, but to give birth to their own poetic voices and hold history accountable for the catastrophes rearranging their lives.

Carry It with You

There have always been those who recognized and valued on some level a relationship with poetry. But it was the Academy of American Poets’ official acknowledgement of it through the establishment of National Poetry Month which validated that value for those other than so-called “lit-geeks.” It made sense that the Academy should have kept the momentum going with the launch of Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 17, 2008. The idea was a simple one: “select a poem you love, carry it with you, and share it with others throughout the day.”

For the full article and to read the poem by Aberjhani please click this link:
3 Poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day: Number 1 – National African-American Art |