Week of 11/2: Black Arts Poetry and Music [Updated]

Photo: Homage to Black Women Poets by Elizabeth Catlett.

Next week we finish with written poetry from the Black Arts Movement and move to music.

For Monday, November 2, Read the following from the SOS reader. Please bring the book with you to class so you can refer to specific lines.
Sonia Sanchez, “The Development of Social Values and the Birth of the Poet” (P.245) and “African and African-American Poetic Resistance to Imperialistic Social Values” (pp. 247-248) These pieces are background on the poetry.
Optional: Read Haki Madhubuti’s essay “Storm Coming: Memory and History” (pp. 254-62) for more background.
Poems (from the SOS reader):

  • Calvin C. Hernton “Jitterbugging in the Streets”
  • Don. L. Lee (Haki Madhubuti) “But He Was Cool or: he even stopped for green lights”
  • Audre Lorde “Naturally”
  • Jayne Cortez: “How Long Has This Trane been Gone?”
    Poems from the Jones/Baraka Reader (Please bring this book with you, too):

  • “SOS”
  • “It’s Nation Time”
    Think about connections to the larger themes we’ve addressed of Black Arts and the political statements and how (if?) they’re addressed in the poetry.

    Choose a few significant quotes from the text. Take notes on why they’re significant.

  • How does the poetry balance art and politics? In your opinion, does work on an artistic level? Why or why not?
  • What themes of Black Arts and Black Power do you see? Mark/underline specific examples in the text.
  • How do the poets use language?
  • What images do they present of Black people?
    Optional: See the Black Fire! reader on reserve in Hunter’s library for much more poetry, fiction, political statements, and plays.

    Reminder Remember to send me a proposal for your final paper if you haven’t already.

    Student presentation by Marcos, Vernette, and Ketsie


    Photo: Cover of the classic Coltrane album A Love Supreme that was widely influential.

    For Wednesday, November 4, we’ll have an opening presentation on music by Saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Ras Moshe, who’ll discuss the work of John and Alice Coltrane as influences to Black Arts and jazz of the 1960s and beyond.

    Read “Jazz and the White Critic” in the Jones/Baraka reader (pp. 179-186). What’s baraka’s argument about Coltrane’s music and what that means more broadly to the movement? What’s the relationship of social class to music? Optional (for music enthusiasts): “The Changing Same (R&B and the New Black Music)” — also in the Jones/Baraka reader. This essay focuses more on popular music of the time.

    Listen to the following playlist on YouTube. Most of these are audio only; Coltrane’s “Afro Blue” is a live video and worth watching to get the full effect.

    Optional: See Pat Thomas’s book Listen Whitey: the Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975, on reserve in the Hunter Library for more on music and spoken word.