Welcome to Black History month! It’s such a fruitful window onto this poetic world we share, since the various schools of African-American writing — from the country’s founding, right up to tomorrow — have left such an unshakable imprint on American verse as a whole.
We’ll start out with a history lesson from a writer I first learned about in my undergrad poetry class, Michael S. Harper (sharper, he claim). It’s funny to think how long ago that was. I would say his history lesson is no less valid today. -ed.
Those four black girls blown up
in that Alabama church
remind me of five hundred
middle passage blacks,
in a net, under water
in Charleston harbor
so redcoats wouldn’t find them.
Can’t find what you can’t see