Black America and the Good Gray Poet
Publication Year: 2014
Whitman Noir: Black America and the Good Gray Poet explores the meaning of blacks and blackness in Whitman’s imagination and, equally significant, also illuminates the aura of Whitman in African American letters from Langston Hughes to June Jordan, Margaret Walker to Yusef Komunyakaa. The essays, which feature academic scholars and poets alike, address questions of literary history, the textual interplay between author and narrator, and race and poetic influence. The volume as a whole reveals the mutual engagement with a matrix of shared ideas, contradictions, and languages to expose how Whitman influenced African American literary production as well as how African American Studies brings to bear new questions and concerns for evaluating Whitman.
Published by: University of Iowa Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Looking with a Queer Smile: Walt Whitman’s Gaze and Black America - Ivy G. Wilson
Ivy G. Wilson
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In the summer of 1901 after they had returned to the South, James Weldon Johnson and his brother, Rosamond, hosted the most esteemed African American poet of the day—Paul Laurence Dunbar— in their hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. Dunbar had...
1. Erasing Race: The Lost Black Presence in Whitman’s Manuscripts - Ed Folsom
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A spectral black presence both haunts and energizes Walt Whitman’s work. Black presences that once were there or should be there finally aren’t. So much of what we can now say about Whitman and race comes not from what he published but from what he didn’t—from what we might call his “discarded writings” instead...
2. The “Creole” Episode: Slavery and Temperance in Franklin Evans - Amina Gautier
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Midway through Walt Whitman’s temperance novel Franklin Evans, or The Inebriate (1842), the eponymous Franklin Evans finds himself traveling to Virginia on a journey that seemingly disrupts a narrative that has previously been mostly concerned with...
3. Kindred Darkness: Whitman in New Orleans - Matt Sandler
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In early 1848 Walt Whitman traveled by steamboat down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans, where he had found work as an editor for the New Orleans Daily Crescent. He arrived just after the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which...
4. Walt Whitman, James Weldon Johnson, and the Violent Paradox of US Progress - Christopher Freeburg
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C. L. R. James found himself possessed by Whitman’s “craving to mingle with all his fellow-men,” his rejection of standardized poetic forms, and his refusal merely to put the modern world in “individual terms.” In James’s eyes, Whitman bravely faces “the...
5. Postwar America, Again - Ivy G. Wilson
Ivy G. Wilson
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In the wake of World War II, the Trinidadian intellectual C. L. R. James and the African American writer Ralph Ellison both turned to Walt Whitman in their respective examinations of the meanings of the United States. In James’s manuscript “Notes...
6. Transforming the Kosmos: Yusef Komunyakaa Musing on Walt Whitman - Jacob Wilkenfeld
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When the Public Broadcasting Service aired its American Experience documentary on Walt Whitman in 2008, three noted contemporary poets—Martín Espada, Billy Collins, and Yusef Komunyakaa—appeared on the program as interviewees and reciters...
7. For the Sake of People’s Poetry: Walt Whitman and the Rest of Us - June Jordan
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In America, the father is white; it is he who inaugurated the experiment of this republic. It is he who sailed his way into slave ownership and who availed himself of my mother—that African woman whose function was miserable—defined by his desirings, ...
8. On Whitman, Civil War Memory, and My South - Natasha Trethewey
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A few years ago I was interviewed for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution— a newspaper whose slogan used to be “Covering Dixie like the Dew”—and later, when the article appeared, the headline read, “Poet Digs at Secrets in Her South.” Not long...
9. Whitman: Year One - Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Rowan Ricardo Phillips
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As a child growing up in New York City I knew two Walt Whitmans. Each seemed large, impressive, and durable; but neither had much to do with poetry. This was a time in my life before I read poetry. And as brief as that time may have been, why deny it...
Afterword: At Whitman’s Grave - George B. Hutchinson
George B. Hutchinson
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Eleanor Ray, the caretaker of Whitman’s home in Camden, showed me the piece of paper on which Whitman had contracted for the building of his tomb: New England granite from Quincy quarry, where, as a college student, I had learned rock-climbing...
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Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2014