Written by: Angela Brown
African-American literature has both been influenced by the great African diasporic heritage and shaped it in many
countries. It has been created within the larger realm of post-colonial literature, although scholars distinguish between
the two, saying that African American literature differs from most post-colonial literature in that it is written by
members of a minority community who reside within a nation of vast wealth and economic power.
Jackson poems bring back memories of growing up in the seventies. I feel I can relate to meaning of the imagery
displayed in his poems. The seventies were from my childhood. Dad had an old Oldsmobile car. It was yellow with
leather interior. Every Sunday we went to church. I was Catholic. Back then the pariserners believed in dressing up. The
old ladies wore big hats to church. Back then church was a fashion show for the Lord. It was pertinent for the family to
praise and thank the God for the blessings in our lives. Boys would hang out at the school to play basketball, while the
girls double ditched and played hop scotch. The dress attire was different. The girls wore low cut jeans as a fashion
statement. We would walk to the neighborhood candy lady to buy now a laters, blow pops and candy. The old men
hung out at the corner store playing checkers. The drug dealers lived lavishly. The girls I knew had an idea of which
they were to marry and how many kids they had. A fatal attraction started at an early age. The housing was poor on the
West side. We had tin top roofs that would make a special sound when it rained. I don’t think Vegas were no different
to Philly during those times.
Dungy’s poems are archaic. His poems touch a sensitive area for me to read. I since Dungy had a precarious life as a
gay man. He describes his sexual experiences as forbidden to secrecy. I can relate to his poems being a victim of
abduction by my brother since an early age. It was a feeling I resent. It was incest which is a sin. How Dungy describes
his moral faith with God is a truancy of empathy. I feel that he also resents his sexuality choice he made. I find his
poems sensitive in defining my sexuality, because, I chose to be a virgin until after I marry. I am 44 years old and I am
a virgin. I never consented in sexual sex acts or intercourse. It is my Catholic faith that I chose to be this way, because, I
am uncomfortable with engaging in sex. It is surprising that so many men who were abducted in the Catholic Church as
young boys also resent it. I feel Dungy is defining his sexuality at a time that people are admitting to be openly gay in
the military and President Obama wants to permit same sex marriage.
Young’s poems are very diverse. Young speaks about how relationships founder between broken friendships. He
speaks about love and adultery as being pervious to life experience. Young tells about how authentic lovers are
subservient to nature. Young wrote about black male hair in how thick, curly and beautiful it is.
The similarities in Jackson, Dungy and Young’s poems have something in common. There poem are reflective of a
younger audience who can relate to the ambivalence of the message they are trying to convey in the poetry. Each poet is
pungent in how they create empathy towards conflicting interest. The message each poet is conveying is saying
something that is not commonly spoken to create awareness of something that is sensitive to understand. The message
they convey is something that has to be said. The message has to be told. It is recording history of our times. It is
recording a social condition reflective of our society. The people who read their poems are looking for gratification of
an artistic craft.
Lord’s poems relay a hidden message mortification of sin. Lord speaks of adultery of how her father had more than one
relationship while being married. Lord speaks about how she needed her real mother in her life. Lord speaks about
finding her own identity through the entire disturbance in her life.
McElroy’s poems are reflective of black mannerism. McElroy uses tradition to define black culture in her poems.
McElroy’s poems reflect the social graces of the south in how women are perceived to be. She discusses the foundation
of human experience to relay the message of human consent.
Knight’s poems speak of so much anger and hostility in it his poems become an imagery of containment. Knight comes
from the Civil Rights era and his poems are a reflection of an understatement of surrealist thought processes. Knight
undermines life for hidden ailment of regret. I feel that in his era it is a reflection of mystery from not knowing the
outcome of what is expected of black people of his generation.
International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature
ISSN 2200-3592 (Print), ISSN 2200-3452 (Online)
Vol. 3 No. 1; January 2014
Copyright © Australian International Academic Centre, Australia
Received: 25-10-2013 Accepted: 09-12-2013 Published: 01-01-2014
doi:10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.3n.1p.249 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.3n.1p.249