Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Today is...Black Poetry Day

Today is Black Poetry Day.

Black Poetry Day is on October 17 to celebrate the birth of Jupiter Hammon, the first African-American poet who was born on October 17, 1711.

Though he was a slave his entire life, Hammon attended school where he learned to read and write. He became a domestic servant, clerk, and artisan in the Lloyd family business.

He was a devote Christian and published his first poem called "An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries: Composed by Jupiter Hammon, a Negro belonging to Mr. Lloyd of Queen's village, on Long Island, the 25th of December, 1760".

He published a few other poems and also a few sermons. He gave an "Address to the Negroes of the State of New York" saying that he wished the young slaves to be free, even though he had no wish to be free himself.

Phillis Wheatley was the first African-American woman, and first African-American poet, to publish a book. She published "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral" in 1773 in England and the colonies.

In the 1970's when there was a revival of surrealism in poetry and the emergence of beat and performance poetry and an embracing of multiculturalism, there was also a growing interest in African-American poets including Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, Ishmael Reed, Vim Karenin, Nikki Giovanni, and Detrick Hughes.

What is your favorite poem?

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