✨✍🏾Today’s Poet, Margaret Danner✍🏾✨

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Margaret Danner

1915–1984

Poet and editor Margaret Esse Danner grew up in Chicago and was educated at Loyola University, Roosevelt College, Northwestern University, and YMCA College. She was the first African American assistant editor at Poetry magazine, during Henry Rago’s tenure as editor. As a member of the South Side Community Art Center, she met with a group of writers that included Margaret Goss Burroughs and Gwendolyn Brooks. Danner also corresponded frequently with the poet Langston Hughes.

 

Her poetry often engages African artwork and culture. Her collections of poetry include Impressions of African Art Forms (1960), To Flower (1963), Nor Light, Nor Bright, Nor Feathery (1968), and The Down of a Thistle: Selected Poems, Prose Poems, and Songs (1976) as well as the collaboration Poem Counterpoem (1966) with Dudley Randall. Her work was included in Langston Hughes’s anthology New Negro Poets (1963) and in the audio recording Poets of the Revolution (1970), also with Langston Hughes.

 

Danner served as poet-in-residence at Wayne State University and LeMoyne Owen College and received the John Hay Whitney Fellowship, the Harriett Tubman Award, the Poets in Concert Award, and the African Studies Association Award. Danner joined the Baha’i faith in the 1960s. She died in Chicago in 1984, and the University of Chicago holds a selection of her papers.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/margaret-danner

https://youtu.be/9GW1GQuCOhw

https://youtu.be/FGSAxnO_RVc

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✨✍🏾Today’s Poet ~ Lucille Clifton✍🏾✨ #FebruaryIsBlackHistoryMonth

 

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/lucille-clifton

 

A prolific and widely respected poet, Lucille Clifton’s work emphasizes endurance and strength through adversity, focusing particularly on African-American experience and family life. Awarding the prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize to Clifton in 2007, the judges remarked that “One always feels the looming humaneness around Lucille Clifton’s poems—it is a moral quality that some poets have and some don’t.” In addition to the Ruth Lilly prize, Clifton was the first author to have two books of poetry chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980 (1987) and Next: New Poems (1987). Her collection Two-Headed Woman (1980) was also a Pulitzer nominee and won the Juniper Prize from the University of Massachusetts. She served as the state of Maryland’s poet laureate from 1974 until 1985 and won the prestigious National Book Award for Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000 (2000). In addition to her numerous poetry collections, she wrote many children’s books. Clifton was a Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Clifton is noted for saying much with few words. In a Christian Century review of Clifton’s work, Peggy Rosenthal commented, “The first thing that strikes us about Lucille Clifton’s poetry is what is missing: capitalization, punctuation, long and plentiful lines. We see a poetry so pared down that its spaces take on substance, become a shaping presence as much as the words themselves” In an American Poetry Review article about Clifton’s work, Robin Becker commented on Clifton’s lean style: “Clifton’s poetics of understatement—no capitalization, few strong stresses per line, many poems totaling fewer than twenty lines, the sharp rhetorical question—includes the essential only.”

Clifton’s first volume of poetry, Good Times (1969), was cited by the New York Times as one of the ten best books of the year. The poems, inspired by Clifton’s family of six young children, show the beginnings of Clifton’s spare, unadorned style and center around the facts of African-American urban life. Clifton’s second volume of poetry, Good News about the Earth: New Poems (1972), was written in the midst of the political and social upheavals of the late 1960s and 70s, and its poems reflect those changes, including a middle sequence that pays homage to black political leaders. Writing in Poetry, Ralph J. Mills, Jr., said that Clifton’s poetic scope transcends the black experience “to embrace the entire world, human and non-human, in the deep affirmation she makes in the teeth of negative evidence.” However, An Ordinary Woman (1974), Clifton’s third collection of poems, largely abandoned the examination of racial issues that had marked her previous books, looking instead at the writer’s roles as woman and poet. Helen Vendler declared in the New York Times Book Review that Clifton “recalls for us those bare places we have all waited as ‘ordinary women,’ with no choices but yes or no, no art, no grace, no words, no reprieve.” Generations: A Memoir (1976) is an “eloquent eulogy of [Clifton’s] parents,” Reynolds Price wrote in the New York Times Book Review, adding that, “as with most elegists, her purpose is perpetuation and celebration, not judgment…There is no sustained chronological narrative. Instead, clusters of brief anecdotes gather round two poles, the deaths of father and mother.” The book was later collected in Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir: 1969-1980, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize along with Next: New Poems (1987).

The book that followed Clifton’s dual Pulitzer nomination, Quilting: Poems 1987-1990 (1991)also won widespread critical acclaim Using a quilt as a poetic metaphor for life, each poem is a story, bound together through history and figuratively sewn with the thread of experience. Each section of the book is divided by a conventional quilt design name—”Eight-pointed Star” and “Tree of Life”—which provides a framework for Clifton’s poetic quilt. Clifton’s main focus is on women’s history; however, according to Robert Mitchell in American Book Review, her poetry has a far broader range: “Her heroes include nameless slaves buried on old plantations, Hector Peterson (the first child killed in the Soweto riot), Fannie Lou Hamer (founder of the Mississippi Peace and Freedom Party), Nelson and Winnie Mandela, W. E. B. DuBois, Huey P. Newton, and many other people who gave their lives to [free] black people from slavery and prejudice.”

Enthusiasts of Quilting included critic Bruce Bennett in the New York Times Book Review, who praised Clifton as a “passionate, mercurial writer, by turns angry, prophetic, compassionate, shrewd, sensuous, vulnerable and funny…The movement and effect of the whole book communicate the sense of a journey through which the poet achieves an understanding of something new.” Clifton’s 1993 poetry collection, The Book of Light,contains poems on subjects ranging from bigotry and intolerance, epitomized by a poem about controversial U.S. Senator Jesse Helms; destruction, including a poem about the tragic bombing by police of a MOVE compound in Philadelphia in 1985; religion, characterized by a sequence of poems featuring a dialogue between God and the devil; and mythology, rendered by poems about figures such as Atlas and Superman. “If this poet’s art has deepened since … Good Times, it’s in an increased capacity for quiet delicacy and fresh generalization,” remarked Poetry contributor Calvin Bedient, declaring that when Clifton writes without “anger and sentimentality, she writes at her remarkable best.” Lockett concluded that the collection is “a gift of joy, a truly illuminated manuscript by a writer whose powers have been visited by grace.”

Both The Terrible Stories (1996) and Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000 (2000) shed light upon women’s survival skills in the face of ill health, family upheaval, and historic tragedy. Blessing the Boats is a compilation of four Clifton books, plus new poems, which, Becker noted in her review for American Poetry Review, “shows readers how the poet’s themes and formal structures develop over time.” Among the pieces collected in these volumes are several about the author’s breast cancer, but she also deals with juvenile violence, child abuse, biblical characters, dreams, the legacy of slavery, and a shaman-like empathy with animals as varied as foxes, squirrels, and crabs. She also speaks in a number of voices, as noted by Becker, including “angel, Eve, Lazarus, Leda, Lot’s Wife, Lucifer, among others … as she probes the narratives that undergird western civilization and forges new ones.”

Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded that the collection “distills a distinctive American voice, one that pulls no punches in taking on the best and worst of life.” The volume was awarded the National Book Award. Renee Olson reported on the award for Booklist that “Clifton was cited for evoking ‘the struggle, beauty, and passion of one woman’s life with such clarity and power that her vision becomes a representative, communal, and unforgettable.'” In Mercy (2004), Clifton’s twelfth book of poetry, the poet writes about the relationship between mothers and daughters, terrorism, prejudice, and personal faith. Clifton’s next book, Voices (2008), includes short verses personifying objects, as well as poems on more familiar terrain. Reviewing the book for the Baltimore Sun, Diane Scharper commented on the impetus of Clifton’s title: “Each section explores the ways the poet relates to voices: from those spoken by inanimate objects to those remembered to those “overheard” in the titles of pictures. Serving as a medium, the poet speaks not only for those things that have no voice but also for the feelings associated with them.”

Lucille Clifton was also a highly-regarded author for children. Her books for children were designed to help them understand their world and facilitate an understanding of black heritage specifically, which in turn fosters an important link with the past. In books like All Us Come Cross the Water (1973), Clifton created the context to raise awareness of African-American history and heritage. Her most famous creation, though, was Everett Anderson, an African-American boy living in a big city. Clifton went on to publish eight Everett Anderson titles, including Everett Anderson’s Goodbye (1984), which won the Coretta Scott King Award. Connecting Clifton’s work as a children’s author to her poetry, Jocelyn K. Moody in the Oxford Companion to African American Literature wrote: “Like her poetry, Clifton’s short fiction extols the human capacity for love, rejuvenation, and transcendence over weakness and malevolence even as it exposes the myth of the American dream.”

Speaking to Michael S. Glaser during an interview for the Antioch Review, Clifton reflected that she continues to write, because “writing is a way of continuing to hope … perhaps for me, it is a way of remembering I am not alone.” How would Clifton like to be remembered? “I would like to be seen as a woman whose roots go back to Africa, who tried to honor being human. My inclination is to try to help.”

[Updated 2010]

 

 

 

✨✍🏾Today’s Poet, Ogden Nash✍🏾✨

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogden_Nash

https://www.poeticous.com/ogden-nash

Frederic Ogden Nash (August 19, 1902 – May 19, 1971) was an American poet well known for his light verse. At the time of his death in 1971, The New York Times said his “droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry”. Nash wrote over 500 pieces of comic verse. The best of his work was published in 14 volumes between 1931 and 1972.

 

Early Life

Nash was born in Rye, New York. His father owned and operated an import-export company, and because of business obligations, the family relocated often. Nash was descended from Abner Nash, an early governor of North Carolina whose brother, Francis, founded Nashville, Tennessee.

Throughout his life, Nash loved to rhyme. “I think in terms of rhyme, and have since I was six years old,” he stated in a 1958 news interview.[4] He had a fondness for crafting his own words whenever rhyming words did not exist, though admitting that crafting rhymes was not always the easiest task.

His family lived briefly in Savannah, Georgia in a carriage house owned by Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA; he wrote a poem about Mrs. Low’s House. After graduating from St. George’s School in Newport County, Rhode Island, Nash entered Harvard University in 1920, only to drop out a year later.

He returned as a teacher to St. George’s for one year before returning to New York. There, he took up selling bonds, about which Nash reportedly quipped, “Came to New York to make my fortune as a bond salesman and in two years sold one bond—to my godmother. However, I saw lots of good movies.” Nash then took a position as a writer of the streetcar card ads for Barron Collier, a company that previously had employed another Baltimore resident, F. Scott Fitzgerald. He spent three months in 1931 working on the editorial staff for The New Yorker.

In 1931 he married Frances Leonard. He published his first collection of poems, Hard Lines, that same year, earning him national recognition. Some of his poems reflected an anti-establishment feeling. For example, one verse, titled Common Sense, asks:

Why did the Lord give us agility, 
If not to evade responsibility?

In 1934, Nash moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where he remained until his death in 1971. Nash thought of Baltimore as home. After his return from a brief move to New York, he wrote: “I could have loved New York had I not loved Balti-more.”

Writing career

When Nash wasn’t writing poems, he made guest appearances on comedy and radio shows and toured the United States and the United Kingdom, giving lectures at colleges and universities.

Nash was regarded with respect by the literary establishment, and his poems were frequently anthologized even in serious collections such as Selden Rodman’s 1946 A New Anthology of Modern Poetry.

Nash was the lyricist for the Broadway musical One Touch of Venus, collaborating with librettist S. J. Perelman and composer Kurt Weill. The show included the notable song “Speak Low”. He also wrote the lyrics for the 1952 revue Two’s Company.

Nash and his love of the Baltimore Colts were featured in the December 13, 1968 issue of Life, with several poems about the American football team matched to full-page pictures. Entitled “My Colts, verses and reverses”, the issue includes his poems and photographs by Arthur Rickerby. “Mr. Nash, the league-leading writer of light verse (Averaging better than 6.3 lines per carry), lives in Baltimore and loves the Colts”, it declares. The comments further describe Nash as “a fanatic of the Baltimore Colts, and a gentleman”. Featured on the magazine cover is defensive player Dennis Gaubatz, number 53, in midair pursuit with this description: “That is he, looming 10 feet tall or taller above the Steelers’ signal caller…Since Gaubatz acts like this on Sunday, I’ll do my quarterbacking Monday.” Memorable Colts Jimmy Orr, Billy Ray Smith, Bubba Smith, Willie Richardson, Dick Szymanski, and Lou Michaels contribute to the poetry.

Among his most popular writings were a series of animal verses, many of which featured his off-kilter rhyming devices. Examples include “If called by a panther / Don’t anther”; “Who wants my jellyfish? / I’m not sellyfish!”.

Death and subsequent events

Nash died at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital on May 19, 1971, from Crohn’s disease aggravated by a lactobacillus infection transmitted by improperly prepared coleslaw. He is buried in East Side Cemetery in North Hampton, New Hampshire.

A biography, Ogden Nash: the Life and Work of America’s Laureate of Light Verse, was written by Douglas M. Parker, published in 2005 and in paperback in 2007. The book was written with the cooperation of the Nash family and quotes extensively from Nash’s personal correspondence as well as his poetry.

His daughter Isabel was married to noted photographer Fred Eberstadt, and his granddaughter, Fernanda Eberstadt, is an acclaimed author. Nash had one other daughter, Linell Nash Smith.

Poetic style

Nash was best known for surprising, pun-like rhymes, sometimes with words deliberately misspelled for comic effect, as in his retort to Dorothy Parker’s humorous dictum, Men seldom make passes/At girls who wear glasses:

A girl who is bespectacled 
She may not get her nectacled

He often wrote in an exaggerated verse form with pairs of lines that rhyme, but are of dissimilar length and irregular meter:

Once there was a man named Mr. Palliser and he asked his wife, May I be a gourmet? 
And she said, You sure may,

Nash’s poetry was often a playful twist of an old saying or poem. For one example, he expressed this playfulness in what is perhaps his most famous rhyme, a twist on Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees” (1913): “I think that I shall never see / a poem lovely as a tree”, which drops “billboard” in place of poem and adds, “Indeed, unless the billboards fall / I’ll never see a tree at all.” That same playfulness produced a number of often quoted quips, including “Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long” and “People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up.”

Bibliography

 Candy is Dandy by Ogden Nash, Anthony Burgess, Linell Smith, and Isabel Eberstadt. Carlton Books Ltd, 1994. ISBN 0-233-98892-0 
 Custard the Dragon and the Wicked Knight by Ogden Nash and Lynn Munsinger. Little, Brown Young Readers, 1999. ISBN 0-316-59905-0 
 I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Ogden Nash. Buccaneer Books, 1994. ISBN 1-56849-468-8 
 The Old Dog Barks Backwards by Ogden Nash. Little Brown & Co, 1972. ISBN 0-316-59804-6 
 Ogden Nash’s Zoo by Ogden Nash and Etienne Delessert. Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, 1986. ISBN 0-941434-95-8 
 Pocket Book of Ogden Nash by Ogden Nash. Pocket, 1990. ISBN 0-671-72789-3 
 Selected Poetry of Ogden Nash by Ogden Nash. Black Dog & Levanthal Publishing, 1995. ISBN 978-1-884822-30-8 
 The Tale of Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash and Lynn Munsinger. Little, Brown Young Readers, 1998. ISBN 0-316-59031-2 
 Bed Riddance by Ogden Nash. Little Brown & Co, 1969. ASIN B000EGGXD8 
“Versus” by Ogden Nash. Little, Brown, & Co, 1949. 
 Good Intentions by Ogden Nash. Little Brown & Co, 1942. ISBN 978-1-125-65764-5 
 “The Face is Familiar: The Selected Verse of Ogden Nash” by Ogden Nash. Garden City Publishing Company, Inc., 1941. 
 There’s Always Another Windmill by Ogden Nash. Little Brown & Co, 1968. ISBN 0-316-59839-9 
 Private Dining Room by Ogden Nash. Little Brown & Co, 1952. ASIN B000H1Z8U4 
 Many Long Years Ago by Ogden Nash. Little Brown & Co, 1945. ISBN B000OELG1O

 
 You Can’t Get There From Here by Ogden Nash. Little Brown & Co, 1957. 
 I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Ogden Nash. Little Brown & Co, 1938 
 Everyone But Thee and Me by Ogden Nash. Boston : Little, Brown, 1962. 
 “Collected Verse from 1929 On” by Ogden Nash. Lowe & Brydone (Printers) Ltd., London, for J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd. 1972

References

Wikipedia—http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogden_Nash