Songs of Dissent: African American Poetry in the 21st Century
The present moment constitutes one of the most exciting periods in the nearly 300-year history of African American poetry. Never before has there been such an incredible range of approaches to form, aesthetics, and subject-matter. This seminar will endeavor both to historicize and contextualize the African American poetic project. We will begin by looking at the issues generated in a single poem and move onward to full-length volumes of works by African American poets. We will move to an examination of several important anthologies, in particular Michael S. Harper and Anthony Walton’s Every Shut Eye Ain’t Sleep and The Vintage Book of African American Poetry, Arnold Rampersad’s Oxford Anthology of African American Poetry, Aldon Nielsen’s normal">Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone, and Charles H. Rowell’s Angle of Ascent, in order to engage issues of periodization, canon-formation, and categorization as modalities that constantly shape our understanding of what constitutes a “black poem.” In the latter stages of the course, our attention will turn to individual poets, as they manifest a poetic vision through individual volumes of poems and essays on poetics. There will be several guest lectures by visiting poets, as well as class trips to poetry readings in and around Philadelphia.