Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, 1773. Publishers refused to believe that she was a poet. A group of eighteen Bostonians questioned her then wrote a two-paragraph introduction confirming her talent. The book was finally published in England.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
I am a hopeful romantic. And those around me may not even know this.
I chose this poem to share this Valentine's Day during this month of black history, because it brings two things--well three things--together that I just love--literature, black culture, and...love. Black love literature. All literature is a work of love. All good literature, that is. Only those who've experienced the pain and addiction of love can write poetry that speaks to every human heart the way this special piece speaks to mine. I could hear my William saying this to me. I feel this way in my heart toward him. I am Lucinda, and I am the poet. How long did it take Langston Hughes to form these few words that weigh so heavily in my chest? How many arguments and make-ups with "Lucinda" helped him define his heart? Do these words say it all? What was his first draft? And when did he feel that it was just right? That it was good enough to give to us to help us articulate this complex emotion beating in our hearts? Maybe a lump formed in his throat or tears seeped into his eyes and down his cheek when the right words appeared on the paper. I can hear him saying, "Ah, yes, this is it."
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Black History Month always excites me. And why wouldn't it? It provides an opportunity for me and many others like me to be exclusively proud of our heritage--the struggles, the triumphs, the mishaps, the scars, the resilience, and the beauty. It also provides a learning experience for those who are unaware of the huge part black people have played in making America the nation that it is.
Someone asked me the other day, "Is it OK for black people to have black this and black that?" In other words, is it OK for black people to uniquely identify their successes, achievement, status, or lack thereof as "a black thing"? I have to say yes, and I would say the same for any other minority group. If we don't have an opportunity to highlight our presence in history and contemporary times and our hopes for the future, we run the risk of being overlooked. Yes, we really do.