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Patricia Spears Jones: What’s African American About African American Poetry?

Since I am an African American (although I prefer Black American) and I write poetry, I assume my poetry is African American. I know, so essentialist. But, my family has been in the United States for at least seven generations–mostly in the South (Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana)—the Delta. To me, gender, geography, education, economic and political status, intergenerational communication (what is or is not passed down) and/or conflict help compose my identity at the cross roads of transport and time. The markers rise up almost unconsciously, and yet I do agree with what Harryette Mullen said in her remarks at the original panel, that blacks can no longer “speak of a singular black experience. Read more…

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