Margaret Walker and the Harlem Renaissance Essay

Margaret Walker and the Harlem Renaissance Essay

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A Contemporary writer, living in a contemporary world, when she speaks of and for her people older voices are mixed with hers- the voices of Methodist forebears and preachers who preached the word, the anonymous voices of many who lived and were forgotten and yet out of bondage and hope made a lasting music. (Benet 3-4)
For the purpose of this chapter, these words by Stephen Vincent Benet in his foreword to Margaret Walker’s first volume of poetry, For My People (1942) are really important. They give an idea about the richness of the literary heritage from which Walker started to write and to which she later added. This chapter is up to explore those “anonymous voices” in Walker’s poetry, the cultural and literary heritages that influenced her writings. Margaret Walker’s cultural heritage, like her biological inheritance, extends back to her ancestors in Africa and the Caribbean. It is quite genetic, something she got by birth; which is quite there just by being African American. Echoes of ancient myths, lost history, mixed bloods, and complex identities are brought about along with the skin colour and the racial origins.
However, the anonymous voices echoed in Walker’s life and literature are not confined to her ancestral lands; they extend to include every culture known in America, the only land she had ever known. From birth to death, Walker never left America; the mostly white nation, whose culture is mainly derived from Europe. Walker received her education in white institutions and was taught by white teachers for a considerable part of her life. She was well versed in American, European; and world history, philosophy, and literature. She spoke English, French, and German. She read European and Russian world literature....


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...ives in Post-Structural
Criticism. Ed. Jouse V. Harari. Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
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Spears, Monroe K. Dionysus and the City: Modernism in Twentieth
Century Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970.
Traylor, Eleanor. ‘“Bolder Meauers Crashing Through’: Margaret
Walker’s Poem of the Century.” Graham, Fields 110-138.
Articles in Journals:
Baraka, Amiri. “Afro-American Literature & Class Struggle.” Black
American Literature Forum, Vol. 14, No. 1. (Spring, 1980):
5-14. JSTOR. Web. 6 May 2007.
Price, Kenneth. “Whitman’s Solutions to ‘The Problem of the Blacks.’”
Resources for American Literary Studies. Vol.15. (1985): 205-208.

Turner, Darwin T. “ Introductory Remarks About the Black Literary
Tradition in the United States of America.” Black American Literature Forum, Vol. 12, No. 4. (Winter, 1978): 140-177.
JSTOR. Web. 5 May 2007.

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