Last week while visiting the Brooklyn Museum, I happened to come across a map and display entitled "Important Dates and Dynasties in Islamic History." Looking across the chronology prompted me to wonder what a similar list of important dates would look like concerning African American poetry. When I returned home, I began charting out a few different lists.
I initially chose a couple of decades and identified 10 or so dates. I figured at the time that I would eventually produce a series of entries that total 100 points for the chronology. Now, as I get closer to that total, I'm starting to remember important events that I left out and additions that I could make. So the total might extend to 125, 150, or who knows?
Running my mind back across important moments in the history -- the histories -- of African American poetry has been enjoyable and stimulating for me. Fact-checking my dates has required me to look through books that I had not consulted for a while, run checks on WorldCat, and utilize various other sources. At some point soon, I'll reach out to various poetry folks I'm acquainted with an ask them about glaring omissions or additions that I might make.
This project, similar to my Novel Category Machine, will eventually serve the educational interests of the black studies contributors that I work with as well as students in my literature classes. In the meantime, I'll construct the smaller entries that will contribute to the larger total of 100 moments.
Dates of importance in African American Poetry
• 20 Moments, 2002 - 2012
• 15 Moments, 1993 - 2002
• 12 Moments, 1976 - 1992
• 10 Moments, 1965 - 1976
• 8 Moments, 1959 - 1968
• 10 Moments, 1945 - 1966
• 15 Moments, 1918 - 1950
• 10 Moments, 1854-1919