Wednesday, November 2, 2016

For Friday: Poetry of Countee Cullen, pp.242-251

For Friday, read the brief selection of poems by Countee Cullen, which includes:
* For a Lady I Know
* Incident
* Harlem Wine
* Yet Do I Marvel
* Heritage
* From the Dark Tower
* To A Brown Boy
* Tableau
* Saturday's Child
* Two Poets
* To France
* Nothing Endures
* Requiescam

As you read, consider how Cullen might have responded (or been inspired by) the various essays we've read this week. Does he believe in the "perspective" of the black writer? Or would he find such ideas mere "hokum"? Also keep in mind the story W.E.B. Du Bois tells at the beginning of "Criteria of Negro Art":

"A professor at the University of Chicago read to a class that had studied literature a passage of poetry and asked them to guess the author. They guessed a goodly company from Shelley and Robert Browning down to Tennyson and Maesfield. The author was Countee Cullen" (100). 

Do you think Cullen would be flattered by this comparison? Would he want his poems to be mistaken for 19th century English (white) poetry? What would someone like Richard Wright say about this ability to 'pass' as a white poet? Is that the goal of black poetry? Is that propaganda? Or is this another instance of the "racial mountain" than Langston Hughes speaks of? 

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