Whitman Noir: Black America and the Good Gray Poet
University of Iowa Press, 2014 - Literary Criticism - 210 pages
Walt Whitman’s now-famous maxim about “containing the multitudes” has often been understood as a metaphor for the democratizing impulses of the young American nation. But did these impulses extend across the color line? Early in his career, especially in the manuscripts leading up to the first edition of Leaves of Grass, the poet espoused a rather progressive outlook on race relations within the United States. However, as time passed, he steered away from issues of race and blackness altogether. These changing depictions and representations of African Americans in the poetic space of Leaves of Grass and Whitman’s other writings complicate his attempts to fully contain all of America’s subject-citizens within the national imaginary. As alluring as “containing the multitudes” might prove to be, African American poets and writers have been equally vexed by and attracted to Whitman’s acknowledgment of the promise and contradictions of the United States and their place within it.
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.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Other editions - View all
African American Afro-Creole alcohol Ameri argues auction black soldiers Body Electric C. L. R. James century City Civil Creole critics culture dead death democracy depicts edition of Leaves Emerson enslaved episode erased Erkkila essay Ethiopia Ethiopia Saluting Evans’s face figure fireman Folsom Franklin Evans Harlem Hughes’s human Ibid imagination inebriate intemperance James Weldon Johnson June Jordan Klammer Kosmos Langston Hughes language Leaves of Grass lines literary look Louis Louisiana Lucifer lynching man’s manuscript Margaret narrative Natasha Trethewey nation Negro Neruda notebook notes ofGrass Orleans Pablo Neruda passage People’s persona plantation poem poet poet’s poetic Poetry and Prose political Praise protagonist published race racial Ralph Ellison reader Reynolds scene sense sexual Sing the Body slavery social Song South southern tion Traubel United University Press violence vision vodou voice W. E. B. Du Bois Walt Whit Whitman’s poetry Whitman’s verse woman World writing York Yusef Komunyakaa