Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Elizabeth Alexander and Black Book History
30 years ago this year, Elizabeth Alexander published "The Venus Hottentot," a piece that in many ways served as a kind of origin for the many black persona poems that we have encountered in the early 21st century. A year later, Alexander published her volume The Venus Hottentot (1990), and so began one of the most outstanding book publishing careers of a contemporary black poet.
Alexander has published several volumes of poetry and two books of essays. She has served as editor of collections of works by Gwendolyn Brooks and Melvin Tolson, and she is the author of a memoir. She is additionally the author of Praise Song for the Day: A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration.
She is very much a contemporary writer, and at the same time, I'm inclined to think of her publications in the context of Black Book History because of the presence of her works across key moments during the 1990s and 2000s. Oh, and even her books have histories. She has been mindful about making sure the works of black visual artists adorn her covers.
• Black Book History, February 2019
• A notebook on the work of Elizabeth Alexander