Monday, November 9, 2015
10 years reading Leadbelly, Pt. 7: discoveries with students
Leadbelly (2005) has provided me with a blueprint for covering a wide range of poetry for the last ten years. Tyehimba Jess utilizes persona poems, engages black and American history, displays an attentiveness to matters of design, and highlights bad or difficult men. Employing all those practices allows Jess's poetry to correspond to the works of various other poets.
Discovering a connected or gateway poet like Jess has been especially important for the work that I do with students. They have multiple interests and some have, well, short attention spans. So it helps that Leadbelly has so many characters and several twists and turns.
And looking back, I've really enjoyed covering the volume with different groups for so many years. So often the new discoveries they've made with the book become new discoveries for me. Their questions lead me to seek out new or more complete answers and questions concerning the volume and perhaps contemporary poetry in general.
Some works, I've told groups of students, secure a distinct, special place. Leadbelly, for instance, can be found right over there at the intersection between poetry and music.
• 10 years reading Leadbelly, Pt. 1: Amiri Baraka and Tyehimba Jess
• A crown of blog entries for Leadbelly: project overview
• 10 years reading Leadbelly, Pt. 6: Jess, Shockley, and Lewis