Over the course of the century chronicling the helm of slavery, the emancipation, and the push for civil, equal, and human rights, black literary scholars have pressed to have their voice heard in the midst a country that would dare classify a black as a second class citizen. Often, literary modes of communication were employed to accomplish just that. Black scholars used the often little education they received to produce a body of works that would seek to beckon the cause of freedom and help blacks tarry through the cruelties, inadequacies, and inconveniences of their oppressed condition. To capture the black experience in America was one of the sole aims of black literature. However, we as scholars of these bodies of works today are often unsure as to whether or not we can indeed coin the phrase “Black Literature” or, in this case, “Black poetry”. Is there such a thing? If so, how do we define the term, and what body of writing can we use to determine the validity of the definition. Such is the aim of this essay because we can indeed call a poem “Black”. We can define “Black poetry” as a body of writing written by an African-American in the United States that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of an experience or set of experiences inextricably linked to black people, characterizes a furious call or pursuit of freedom, and attempts to capture the black condition in a language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm. An examination of several works of poetry by various Black scholars should suffice to prove that the definition does hold and that “Black Poetry” is a term that we can use.
Firstly, we shall look at a poem by Paul Lawrence Dunbar and look for spec...
... middle of paper ...
...ritten by a black writer in the America that articulates an awareness of an experience or set of experiences tied to black people and attempts to capture the black condition in a language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, rhythm, and all the other elements that classify a poem.
Dubois, W.E.B. “A Litany of Atlanta”
Dunbar, Paul. “A Cabin Tale”
Gabbin, Joanne V. “Furious Flower: African American Poetry, An Overview.” The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. Oxford University Press. Web:
Harper, Francis. “Eliza Harris”
Johnson, James. “To America”
Taylor, Edward. “Huswifery”
Wheatley, Phyllis. “On Being Brought from Africa to America”.
Whittier, James. “Stanzas.” Voices of Freedom. T.S. Cavender: Philadelphia. 1846.
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