Thursday, December 8, 2011

Poster For A 1974 Poetry Festival

Beyond thousands of photographs, the Eugene B. Redmond (EBR) Collection contains over one hundred posters and programs from conferences, special events, and festivals covering over 30 years. One of the posters that caught my attention was from the 1974 Melvin A. Butler Third Annual Memorial Black Poetry Festival.

Source: EBR Digital Collection
The poster includes photographs of several poets and cultural workers, including Redmond, Pinkie Gordan Lane, Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, Larry Neal, Dudley Randall, and Jerry W. Ward, Jr., to name a few. The poster also presents a schedule of the festival activities, which was hosted by the Department of English at Southern University in Baton Rogue, Louisiana.

When I first saw the poster in the collection, I recalled an article that I read about the festival in an old issue of Black World magazine. Ward wrote the report on the festival and provided a summary of the proceedings. “One of the most valuable contributions Southern University (Baton Rouge) makes to Black Art,” wrote Ward, “is its annual poetry.”

Ward's article and the poster offer visual and narrative snapshots of Redmond participating in a 1970s event as a poet two years before the publication of his major book Drumvoices: The Mission of Afro-American Poetry (1976). The items also highlight the convergence of a diverse group of writers in a common  location as they celebrate poetry and engage in conversations about black verse. 

Related: The EBR Digital Collection

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