Saturday, September 14, 2019

Black women's poetry: from Margaret Walker to Megan Thee Stallion

Although I'm covering poems and lyrics here and there throughout the semester, next week I'll begin a full unit on black women's poetry in one of my classes. We'll do a quick survey, noting a dozen or so various folks. One of the questions I'll pose is this: how did we get from the sound and delivery styles of Margaret Walker to Megan Thee Stallion?

Years ago when I began teaching, we moved in a more conventional chronological path. We began with poets like Walker and Gwendolyn Brooks up to Black Arts era folks like Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni and then by the end of the semester, we got to someone like a Lauryn Hill. I've worked, though, to bring generations of poets and performers into conversation with each other sooner in the semester. I've also done more with sound studies, moving beyond privileging printed texts in typical ways.

One of the problems or limits with a conventional chronological path is that it gives too much weight to generational differences while downplaying the importance of different creative domains. Difference across ages matter, but so do various domains and genres. 

So tracing the routes from Walker to Megan the Stallion can involve considering aspects of black women's print-based poetry and black women's raps. 

Black women, creativity, and styles of delivery

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