A three-week institute for twenty-five college and university faculty on African-American poetry and poetics.
Project director Maryemma Graham, a professor of English at the University of Kansas (KU), investigates African-American poetry from the early twentieth century to the present in this summer program. The approach moves "from social context and ideology to the texts and poetics," allowing the project "to generate new ways and new critical tools for reading, teaching, and interpreting a range of black poetries." Lorenzo Thomas's Don't Deny My Name: Words and Music and the Black Intellectual Tradition is read in its entirety before the institute begins. The program is divided into three week-long segments. The first week, on traditions in Black poetry, 1900-1960, including modernism and the Harlem Renaissance, is led by Jerry Ward (English, Dillard University) and Joanne Gabbin (English, James Madison University). The second week, on the aesthetics and production of Black poetry during the Black Arts era from 1960 to 1980, is conducted by Howard Ramsby II (Black studies, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville). The third week, on African-American poetry, 1980-present, is led by Tony Bolden (African American Studies, KU). A central theme of the institute, the relationship between oral and written poetry, is particularly prominent during the third week, as the group investigates contemporary works. Numerous poets are to be studied, including Paul Laurence Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson, Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, Robert Hayden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Rita Dove, Natasha Tretheway, Terrance Hayes, and Nikky Finney. The institute meets five days a week for lectures, discussions, group collaborative work on research and curricular projects, panel presentations, and multimedia/digital presentations of poetry. In addition to the weekly session leaders, there are shorter presentations by twelve visiting literature faculty members, including Aldon Nielsen (Penn State University), J. Edgar Tidwell (English, KU), R. Baxter Miller (University of Georgia), Opal Moore (Spelman College), Adam Bradley (University of Colorado), and Meta DuEwa Jones (University of Texas, Austin). In addition to reading poetry throughout the institute, participants study selected criticism, much of it by institute faculty. In the fall following the institute, there are follow-up online sessions with prominent African-American poets, including Giovanni, Hayes, and Dove.
Faculty: Tony Bolden, Adam Bradley, Joanne Gabbin, Anthony Grooms, Joseph Harrington, William Joe Harris, Meta DuEwa Jones, Jill Kuhnheim, , R. Baxter Miller, Opal Moore, Tracie Morris, Aldon Nielsen, Howard Rambsy II, J. Edgar Tidwell, Jerry W. Ward, Jr.
Special guests include: Rita Dove, Nikki Giovanni, Terrance Hayes, Liegh McInnis, E. Ethelbert Miller, Ishmael Reed, Natasha Tretheway