Black poetry has deep kinships with performance: music, Black preaching, and “code switching” between forms of language and speech. Do Black poetry’s links to music (spirituals, blues, jazz, hip-hop), to African cultures, and vernacular language have analogies in other American traditions? Join Dr. Constance Bailey, Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Arkansas, for a discussion on African American Poetry on the theme of Black Language and Music. Poems to be discussed include “Ma Rainey” by Sterling A. Brown, “Dear John, Dear Coltrane” by Michael S. Harper and “The Black Back-Ups” by Kate Rushin. These poems and more can be found in the "Lift Every Voice Reader", which is attached. 

Dr. Bailey completed her B.A. in English at Alcorn State University, her M.A. in English with a Folklore and Oral Tradition emphasis from the University of Missouri, and her doctorate in English from the University of Missouri with an emphasis in African Diaspora Studies. Dr. Bailey regularly teaches Modern and Contemporary American literature.   

This program is part of Lift Every Voice: Why African American Poetry Matters, a national public humanities initiative of Library of America presented in partnership with The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture with generous support from The National Endowment for the Humanities, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Emerson Collective.

This discussion will take place via Zoom. Please register to receive the login information. 

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PDF icon Lift Every Voice Reader.pdf1.01 MB