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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: December 2014

Selected Bibliographies

Summary

For much of the twentieth century, critics, scholars, writers, and readers often set American literature's parameters to exclude African American literary artists. The story of contemporary African American poetics begins with Gwendolyn Brooks and her collection A Street in Bronzeville. Bob Kaufman's poem expands on Hughes's imagist inclination, but it veers sharply from the solid modernist elements of Robert Hayden's or Gwendolyn Brooks's poetry. In his musicological works, Blues People and Black Music, Amiri Baraka argues that bebop and avant-garde jazz are rooted in the African American experiential continuum, but still offer listeners and other artists routes toward surreal, experimental, modern, and revolutionary practices. Like Baraka and Kaufman before him, Ishmael Reed's early poems are drawn from American popular culture, African American cultural particulars, and various mythological systems. Baraka's poetic concept of othering the self makes improvisation a metaphor for both intellectual work and African American identity.