Monday, August 12, 2019

Generations and genres of black women writers

Nikki Giovanni listening to Carmin Wong

Margaret Walker. Gwendolyn Brooks. Toni Morrison. Nikki Giovanni. Lauryn Hill. Mahogany L. Browne. Megan Thee Stallion. Those are some of the writers/public presenters we'll cover in one of my literature courses this semester. We'll check out people who've published books, and we'll cover some whose works appear primarily on YouTube. I received cell phone recordings of poems from emergent poets Samantha Adams, Angel C. Dye, and Carmin Wong that we'll cover as well.

None of the 35 first-year collegiate black women currently enrolled in the class I'll teach are aspiring English majors. So more than preparing them for future studies in literature, we'll think about the continuities and variance among black women artists and delivery styles. In the process, we'll give thought to generational and genre shifts.

For all kinds of reasons, literature professors usually privilege printed texts in their classrooms. But what happens if we elevate sound texts? And what can first-year collegiate black women learn and contribute when listening and responding to a wide variety of black women poets presenters?

My conversations with dozens of black women students over the years, as well as my interactions with sound studies scholars have enhanced my approaches. I've been less inclined to tie myself too closely to the page. There's just so much dynamic, recorded verbal art out there to ignore.

I'm also excited about the range of creators we have to consider, even just within black women's poetry. This past June, I observed Dye and Wong interacting with Giovanni, who is five decades older than those two young poets. How do we account for all that has shaped their approaches to composing and presenting their works?

Black women, creativity, and styles of delivery

No comments: