Friday, November 11, 2016

For Monday: The Women of the Renaissance

Photo of Mamie Estelle Fearing Scurlock, by Addison Scurlock, c.1910
For Monday's class, read all the female poets included in our anthology of the Harlem Renaissance:

* Bennett, "Song" and "Hatred" (pp.221-223)
* Cowdery, "The Young Voice Cries" (pp.238-240)
* Fauset, "La Vie C'est La Vie" and "Dead Fires" (pp.254-255)
* Johnson (Georgia), "Let Me Not Lose My Dream," "Old Black Men," "Black Woman," "The Heart of a Woman," "I Want to Die While You Love Me" (pp.273-275)
* Johnson (Helene), "My Race," "A Southern Road," "Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem," "Poem" (pp.276-278)
* Spencer, "Lady, Lady" (p.299) 

As always, consider some of the following ideas:

* How do many of these poems employ uniquely feminine metaphors/imagery that are absent from the works of Cullen and Hughes? Are there other hallmarks that make these poems distinct from their male peers?

* In general, do these poems sound more like the "Talented Tenth" (more academic, polished) or more like the colloquial language of the street? Why might this be? 

* Many of these poems are 'love poems,' which strike a very universal note. Is there any trace of propaganda or 'perspective' in these poems? Should there be? Can a love poem simply be a love poem, even in Harlem?

* Do some, or all, of these poems strike a feminist note? Do these poets seem to identify more with being women, or black, or simply poets? Where is there true allegiance from the poems themselves? 

* How does Helene Johnson's "Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem" compare thematically with some of Shakespeare's Sonnets to the young man or the Dark Lady? 

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