Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sighting Poets over at the Poetry Foundation Blog

"from Poetry archives" image source.

 On Tuesday, November 19, the Poetry Foundation's blog ran a short article "For Margaret Walker" by Lindsay Garbutt. The article provides a reflection on Walker and her career.  

What caught my attention was the image that goes along with the blog entry. The caption reads "Margaret Walker with poets at Jackson State College festival. Walker is in the front row, second from right, with Langston Hughes to the right and Robert Hayden at top right. From the Poetry archives."

When I saw the image, I immediately recognized Sterling Brown seated on the left and Arna Bontemps stands behind him. A quick search of other sources revealed that Melvin Tolson is standing next to Bontemps and Owen Dodson stands next to Hayden. Ruth Dease is the woman between Brown and Walker.

The image is from a conference in 1952 at Jackson State University, which was then known as Jackson State College. Lawrence Jackson mentions the gathering in his book The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934-1960:
In the third week of October 1952, Margaret Walker held a clearinghouse conference of black writers and critics at Jackson State College in Mississippi. Under the inauspicious but still gutsy title 'Seventy-Five Years of the Negro in Literature,' the conference attendees gathered for a Sunday afternoon convocation addressed by Sterling Brown, followed by a full week of papers, panels, and workshops on literature, journalsim, and the arts. The conference attendees included Brown, Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps, Era Bell Thompson, Own Dodson, Robert Hayden, J. Saunders Redding, Gwendolyn Brooks, Melvin Tolson, and Carl Moses Holman.

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