Performing the Word: African American Poetry as Vernacular Culture

Performing the Word: African American Poetry as Vernacular Culture

by Fahamisha Patricia Brown
     
 

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Brown (English, Austin Peay State Univ.) organizes her study around the concept of "African American vernacular culture," which she defines as "customs and mores that appear to be most specifically manifested by persons in the United States who trace their ancestry to Africans enslaved there." One feature of this culture is an oral quality that

Overview

Brown (English, Austin Peay State Univ.) organizes her study around the concept of "African American vernacular culture," which she defines as "customs and mores that appear to be most specifically manifested by persons in the United States who trace their ancestry to Africans enslaved there." One feature of this culture is an oral quality that she maintains appears in both the spoken and the written word. Aspects of this tradition manifest themselves, for example, in the frequent use of repetition (especially call and response), the didacticism (or "preachment," to use Gwendolyn Brooks's term), the utilization of music, and the boast-and-toast traditions. While the book is not a "history" of African American poetry (there is, for instance, no chronological ordering of authors), Brown does believe that poetry operates within a "continuum." Thus, Langston Hughes can be spoken of in relationship to recent poets like Saul Williams or Reg E. Gaines. This ambitious, provocative study (particularly on the place of gender and sexuality in this vernacular culture) is recommended for all black literature and/or American poetry collections.

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Library Journal
Brown (English, Austin Peay State Univ.) organizes her study around the concept of "African American vernacular culture," which she defines as "customs and mores that appear to be most specifically manifested by persons in the United States who trace their ancestry to Africans enslaved there." One feature of this culture is an oral quality that she maintains appears in both the spoken and the written word. Aspects of this tradition manifest themselves, for example, in the frequent use of repetition (especially call and response), the didacticism (or "preachment," to use Gwendolyn Brooks's term), the utilization of music, and the boast-and-toast traditions. While the book is not a "history" of African American poetry (there is, for instance, no chronological ordering of authors), Brown does believe that poetry operates within a "continuum." Thus, Langston Hughes can be spoken of in relationship to recent poets like Saul Williams or Reg E. Gaines. This ambitious, provocative study (particularly on the place of gender and sexuality in this vernacular culture) is recommended for all black literature and/or American poetry collections.--Louis J. Parascandola, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813526324
Publisher:
Rutgers University Press
Publication date:
11/28/1999
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

What People are saying about this

Cheryl Clarke
I am ecstatic Performing the Word is on the scene. Writer and scholar Fahamisha Patricia Brown presents convincing evidence that the 'everyday' is 'everyday' in African American poetry, and indeed that poetry has been a crucial agent of transmitting and preserving African American vernacular culture.
Joanne M. Braxton
Fahamisha Patricia Brown's Performing the Word represents a real contribution to African American poetical and critical theory.

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