Course Description

 I didn’t want to write a poem that said “blackness

is,” because we know better than anyone
that we are not one or ten or ten thousand things
Not one poem      We could count ourselves forever
and never agree on the number. . . . .

                                    Most mornings these days
Ralph Edwards comes into the bedroom and says, “Elizabeth,
this is your life. Get up and look for color,
look for color everywhere.”

                        “Today’s News” by Elizabeth Alexander

                        (Note: Ralph Edwards hosted TV’s “This is Your Life”.)

In this class, we will delve into poems by African American poets, enjoying their variety, beauty, and power, and noting how the African American experience shapes this poetry—including slavery, the South, the great migration north, and more. We’ll note how various poets elaborate that experience—poets such as Rita Dove, Elizabeth Alexander, Audre Lorde, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, etc., and we will appreciate their vibrant portrayals of Black life and culture in a white world. (This course will continue in the spring.)

TextThe Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry. Ed by Arnold Rampersad. Oxford UP, 2006. 

Format: Discussion. We’ll discuss how selected poems elaborate on the theme of the week, and we’ll focus on the writing of specific poets. Volunteers will give short presentations on the theme or poet and provide questions for discussion. Coordinators provide guides on reading and enjoying poetry.

Coordinators: Linda Shamoon, Chris Rose, Karen Stein. Chris initiated LLC’s popular poetry discussion group at Providence’s Rochambeau Library. Linda and Karen are retired URI professors; Karen taught American literature and Women’s Studies; Linda taught writing and rhetoric. More info here.  

© Linda K. Shamoon 2020