Zenosbooks

Poetry For My People by Henry Dumas. Carbondale. 1970. Southern Illinois University Press. hardcover. 184 pages.  Preface by Imamu Ameer Baraka Leroi Jones. Introduction by Jay Wright. Edited by Hale Chatfield & Eugene Redmond. keywords: Literature America Black African American. 0809304430.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   The poems of Henry Dumas demonstrate concisely what an African heritage can mean to an American writer. The poems in this collection of Dumas’s poetry, published and unpublished at the time of his death in 1968 at the age of thirty-four,. represent a diversity of themes and techniques. Even amid this considerable variety, however, we can distinguish themes and devices which occur with sufficient regularity to become characteristic. Naturally, the plight of the black man in America is first among Dumas’s thematic concerns. In this regard, the poet’s chief metaphor involves a living entity (a tree, for example) transplanted from African to American soil, which fails to nourish it properly and even threatens to poison it to death—a fate from which it is able to defend itself by relying upon the African heritage (spirits, gods, ancestors) it recalls within its very cells. To provide the appropriate tone and atmosphere for such poems as these, Dumas makes frequent use of African place names and often employs Swahili or even Arabic words. To protest, as some readers are inclined to do, that such names and words often appear in unlikely or fantastic contexts is to miss the essential point: namely, that the fundamental ‘truth’ in these poems is a strong attachment not merely to the African past itself but also to the emotions, attitudes, and predispositions which it continually engenders and enriches. It is true, of course, that black Americans have for years been giving careful and scholarly attention to the matter of their African heritage. Dumas’s poetry may be viewed, in part, as an assertion of that heritage and an exploration of its effects.

 

  HENRY DUMAS, a prize-winning writer, was born in Sweet Home, Arkansas, on July 20, 1934, and moved to New York City when he was ten years old. His life was ended abruptly on May 23, 1968, by bullets from the gun of a New York Transit policeman in the subway. Reasons for the killing have remained vague and unsatisfactory. Before his death Dumas had been active on the ‘little’ magazine circuit as well as in the initial opening scene of the Black Arts Movement, publishing his stories and poems in Negro Digest/Black World, Rutgers’ Anthologist, the Hiram Poetry Review, Umbra and Black Fire. Since his death his reputation and writings have attracted a large and international community of readers. On the heels of the publication of ARK OF BONES AND OTHER STORIES and PLAY EBONY PLAY IVORY, writers, artists and students gathered in several largely Black areas of the country to read from the works and proclaim the genius of Dumas. Among the anthologies and periodicals which have printed his work since his death are: Black Scholar, Essence, Brothers and Sisters, Confrontation, Galaxy of Black Writing, You Better Believe it, Open Poetry and Giant Talk: An Anthology of Third World Writings. Just before his death, Dumas was employed by Southern Illinois University’s Experiment in Higher Education in East St. Louis.

 

Imamu Ameer Baraka (LeRoi Jones), who has provided a Preface to this volume, is one of America’s most esteemed black writers. His best known books are Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note; Blues People; and The Dead Lecturer. In 1964 he won the Obie Award for his play Dutchman, which was made into a motion picture in 1967. Recently he has been giving readings and lectures on college and university campuses throughout the United States.

 

Jay Wright, who has written an Introduction to this volume, has studied at the University of California (Berkeley), Union Theological Seminary, and Rutgers University. He is a widely published poet and playwright and has held several fellowships. Recently he has served as a reader in the Academy of American Poets Schools Program in New York City and as poet in-residence at Tougaloo College and Talladega College.

 

Hale Chatfield, coeditor of this volume with Eugene Redmond, is a member of the English faculty at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. He is founder and editor of the Hiram Poetry Review, and the author of two book-length collections of poetry. His work appears regularly in literary periodicals. In July 1968 he was named chairman of the Poetry Advisory Panel to the Ohio Arts Council.

 

Eugene Redmond, currently Writer-in-Residence at Oberlin College, has won several prizes for poetry. He holds the B.A. degree in English Literature from Southern Illinois University and the M.A. degree from Washington University. This year October House will publish his first book-length collection of poems, THE EYE IN THE CEILING.

 

 

Check zenosbooks.com for either a used or a new copy of this book, or you can add it to your wishlist.

 

 

 


Search

Zeno's Picks

Neglectedbooks.com

The Neglected Books Page

23 April 2019

www.NeglectedBooks.com: Where forgotten books are remembered
  • The Well-Meaning Young Man, by Luise and Magdalen King-Hall (1930)

    I decided to read The Well Meaning Young Man after stumbling across this passage: Horatio Swann, the famous portrait painter, was at his wit’s end. Harry Ames, the well-known scene designer, was at his wit’s end. The Russian chauffeur, Boris, was lying upstairs under a neat check bedspread, in a bedroom of the inn, suffering... Read more

    The

    ...
  • Opium Fogs, by Rosemary Tonks (1963)

    Though Rosemary Tonks’ Emir includes Opium Fogs in its “by the same author” list and not vice-versa, it’s a safe bet that Opium Fogs was written second. On all counts — particularly form, style, and characterization — it’s the more successful book. What’s more, throughout the book there are signs of material from Emir being... Read

    ...
  • Emir, by Rosemary Tonks (1963)

    Rosemary Tonks’ first two novels, Emir and Opium Fogs were published within weeks of each other and TLS and other papers reviewed them together, so it’s hard to be sure which one was written first. But my bet is on Emir. If Opium Fogs is never less than eccentric, it is at least a finished... Read more

    The post ...

  • Two Lost Novels

    I love to page through old issues of The Saturday Review, the TLS, and other book reviews of the past for the advertisements as much as for the reviews. Browsing through old copies of the TLS online recently, I noticed the following in the lower left corner of a full-page Hutchinson’s ad from 7 September... Read more

    The post Two

    ...
  • The Signpost, by E. Arnot Robertson (1943)

    Macmillan splashed this ad for E. Arnot Robertson’s novel, The Signpost across the top half of page 13 on the New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review, consuming paper that British publishers struggling with wartime shortages would have coveted. A Book of the Month Club selection, The Signpost was expected to have good sales based... Read more

    The post ...

  • Marriage, Widowhood and After: Three Poems by Dorothy Livesay

    Wedlock Flesh binds us, makes us one And yet in each alone I hear the battle of the bone: A thousand ancestors have won. And we, so joined in flesh Are prisoned yet As soul alone must thresh In body’s net; And our two souls so left Achieve no unity: We are each one bereft... Read more

    The post ...

  • No Goodness in the Worm, by Gay Taylor (1930)

    I’ve been interested in reading No Goodness in the Worm ever since I read A Prison, A Paradise, the memoir in which Gay Taylor, writing under the pseudonym of Loran Hurnscot (compiled from what she saw as her two worst sins, sloth and rancour), recalled her obsession and affair with A. E. Coppard and the... Read more

    The post ...

  • Letters Home, arranged and edited by Mina Curtiss (1944)

    I knew Mina Curtiss’s name as the collector and editor of the letters of Marcel Proust. Curtiss wrote of her experiences in tracking down Proust’s letters in her 1978 memoir, Other People’s Letters (which is, unfortunately, out of print again). But I was surprised to learn that during World War Two, she collected letters written... Read

    ...
  • As It Was in the Beginning, by G. E. Trevelyan (1934)

    The anonymous TLS reviewer described G. E. Trevelyan’s third novel, As It Was in the Beginning (1934) as “almost unreadable in its intensity.” Thumbing through the book after getting it in the mail last month, I could see that was an apt assessment, and somewhat dreaded the level of attention I would have to devote... Read more

    The post ...

  • Angry Man’s Tale, by Peter de Polnay (1939)

    At a time when many first-time novelists bemourn publishers’ reluctance to back their works with advertisement, Alfred A. Knopf’s half-page ad for Peter de Polnay’s Angry Man’s Tale (1939) stands as righteous refutation. Look at that headline (perhaps not the best choice of font, Mr. Knopf): “Not the book of the year. Not even the... Read

    ...
Copyright © 2019 Zenosbooks. All Rights Reserved.
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU General Public License.