verses resonate with the music of the life he saw around him--the blues
sung to lost loves, chants of saints praying to be in the number, tragic-comic
cries in the face of hatred and injustice, and jubilant songs of endurance
and perseverance. Sterling Brown's poetic genius lies in his subtle adaptation
of blues, spirituals, work songs, and ballads into silver threads that
dazzle his spoken verse.
The quote is from Smithsonian Folkways.
"In the beginning I never found poems in the American literary pantheon about the things I knew best. I decided that I would at least do my part and try to put some of those poems in there. At the time I was reading black American literature, mostly in anthologies. I didn't know about Sterling Brown. If I had, I would have taken a different approach...
"In the 60s the critical thing in discovering the work of people who had preceded me was going to the folk archives of the San Francisco Library and listening to a recording of Sterling Brown and Robert Hayden. Not only did I get a chance to follow that up by reading their poems in books and anthologies, but I also heard their voices. That transformed a lot of things for me. I realized there was a musicality, a certain kind of artistic rigor that I hadn't heard before."
The poet African American poet Michael Harper says at Brown University Library.
Biography & Links:1. Brief biography The Black College Magazine Online.
2. Biography at The Academy of American Poets.
3. Site with photo, biography, and bibliography of Brown at Howard University Library.
4. Introduction of Brown's life and writing at Lycos Web Guide.
5. Site, intended for teachers, but contains helpful discussions of Brown's themes, style, audience, and other issues at The Heath Anthology of American Literature in Georgetown University.
Sterling Brown bibliography at Paul
P. Reuben Web Site.
Essays:1. Online essay called "Poets of the Harlem Renaissance and After" at The Academy of American Poets.
of Sterling Brown's own essays that relate to the blues:
Ballads, and Social Songs."” Seventy-five Years of Freedom. Washington
DC: Library of Congress P, 1940. 17-25.
"The Blues."” Phylon, XIII (Autumn 1952), 318-327
|1. Ma Rainey||the song|
|2. Frankie and Johnny||the song|
|3. Southern Road||the song|
|4. Strong Men||the song|
|5. Tin Roof Blues||the song|