Black Poetry The Movement

From Paul Laurence Dunbar to Langston Hughes

Author: Jean Wagner
Editor/Other: Translated by Kenneth Douglas. Foreword by Robert Bone


Pub Date: 1973
Pages: 584 pages

This is the only full-length study of the major black poets of the United States from early slavery times to Langston Hughes. First published in France in 1963, the book is, in the words of Robert Bone, "a seminal work not likely soon to be replaced as the standard treatment of its field." Langston Hughes called it "a monumental work."

"A matchless study. . . . the best full length study of Black American poetry that has seen print. Wagner has evaluated the major poets from 1890 to 1940 (Dunbar to Hughes) with a superior critical discernment that is wedded to a sociological and psychological approach. . . . The distinguishing factors in Wagner's study are his aggressive grappling with two-sided issues; his lucid, metaphorical prose style; his thorough research, and judicious, carefully reasoned conclusions."
-- The New York Times Book Review

Behind every movement is a group of innovators, who helped to define history. Black poetry is no different from any other movement. Black poets used their words to protest against slavery, racism, injustice and sexuality.

Here are the poets that spearheaded public opposition against issues facing Black Americans. Watch “Verses & Flow“ Thursdays at 11pm ET to see poetry legends in the making.

Phillis Wheatley was the first African-American to have her poetry published. One of her works titled On Being Brought from Africa to America, discussed slaves relationships with God and their ideas of religion.

Langston Hughes outwardly opposed racial injustice between Blacks and Whites in America. His works influenced the Harlem Renaissance, which encouraged liberal Black art.

Maya Angelou supported feminism just as much as she supported Black’s progression in America. Much of her works dabbled into women’s sexuality, spiritual freedom and celebration.

Gil Scott Heron was the spoken-word loud mouth. Known for his famous line and poem The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Heron’s work exposed the conditions of ghettos and crooked politics.

Nikki Giovanni was inspired to start writing poetry thanks to the civil rights and black power movements. She is known for works that evoke pride for one’s race.

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