Celebrating Black History Month at the VCU Libraries
This book studies how four representative African American poets of the 1960s, Langston Hughes, Umbra's David Henderson, and the Black Arts Movement's Sonia Sanchez, and Amiri Baraka engage, in the tradition of griots, in poetic dialogues with aesthetics, music, politics, and Black History. In so doing they narrate, using jazz as meta-language, genealogies, etymologies, cultural legacies, and Black (hi)stories. In intersecting and complementary ways, Hughes, Henderson, Sanchez, and Baraka fashioned their griotism from theorizations of artistry as political engagement, and, in turn, formulated a Black aesthetic based on jazz performativity--on a series of jazz-infused iterations that form a complex pattern of literary, musical, historical, and political moments in constant cross-fertilizing dialogues with one another. This form of poetic call-and-response becomes a definitional literary template for these poets, as it allows both the possibility of intergenerational dialogues between poets and musicians and dialogic potential between song and politics, between Africa and Black America, between vernacular continuums, in their poems.