Afro-blue: Improvisations in African American Poetry and Culture

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University of Illinois Press, 2004 - Literary Criticism - 173 pages
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In Afro-Blue, Tony Bolden traces the ways innovations in black music and poetry have driven the evolution of a variety of other American vernacular artistic forms. The blues tradition, Bolden demonstrates, plays a key role in the relationship between poetry and vernacular expressive forms. Through an analysis of the formal qualities of black poetry and music, Afro-Blue shows that they function as a form of resistance, affirming the values and style of life that oppose bourgeois morality. Even before the term blues had cultural currency, the inscriptions of style and resistance embodied in the blues tradition were already a prominent feature of black poetics. Bolden delineates this interrelation, examining how poets extend and reshape a variety of other verbal folk forms in the same way as blues musicians play with other musical genres. He identifies three distinct bodies of blues poetics: some poets mimic and riff on oral forms, another group fuse their dedication to vernacular culture with a concern for literary conventions, while still others opt to embody the blues poetics by becoming blues musicians - and some combine elements of all three.
 

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Contents

Early African American Criticism as a Site
1
Meditations Black Arts Criticism and Cultural Nationalist
18
A Blues Theory of African American Poetics
37
Riffing in Sterling Browns Southern Road
74
The Performanace of Cultural ReMemory
97
The Incarnation of Secular
120
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About the author (2004)

Tonya Bolden is the author of ten books, including "Strong Men Keep Coming", "The Family Heirloom Cookbook", & "33 Things Every Girl Should Know". She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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