In many respects, the Black Arts Movement was an important moment in the technological history of African American literary art. Poets actively participated in the material production of books and other literary products; they collaborated with musicians and produced audio recordings; and poets were committed to a spirit of newness, which spurred significant artistic innovations.
The interest in self-determination and black self-reliance led large numbers of poets to seek out their own publishing opportunities, a process that involved writers-turned-publishers to interact with printers and seek out their own methods of producing artistic materials. Amiri Baraka, Haki Madhubuti, Dudley Randall, Eugene Redmond, and many other figures took leading roles in the manufacture of literary products such as books, albums, and broadsides.
The collaborative projects that these and others poets coordinated with musicians represented additional notable technological practices during the era. The processes of working with instrumentalists on the production of music and poetry and of using electrical devices to produce audio texts became defining features of the Black Arts Movement.
That poets of the era were often referred to as "new" black poets and their work as "new" black poetry speaks to the sense that the writers were working to innovate views and functions American and African American poets and poetry. The push to innovate black artistic practice and American literary traditions constituted an essential and perhaps hi-tech impulse that helped shape the movement.
The critical framework known as afrofuturism is helpful for considering the technological implications of artistic production during the black arts eras. Afrofuturism's focus on what scholar Alondra Nelson has referred to as the "intersections between race and technology" certainly lends itself to what was taking place among African American poets.
This entry is part of a series--30 Days of Black Arts Poetry.