Toi Derricotte’s Open Confession

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

[By Jerry W. Ward] Open confession — public broadcasting of once private spiritual desire and/or agony   — may be good for the soul.  As far as contemporary American poetry goes, whether open confession is a many splendid thing or a depressing invitation to tour another person’s dread and suffering is debatable. The poetic mode identified as confessional is as ancient as the Epic of Gilgamesh […]

Witherspoon: A Novel by Lance Jeffers (1983)*

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

[By Jerry W. Ward] INTRODUCTION Such Agonies Suffer Our Men of War Reading Witherspoon, one is moved by its aesthetic and its morality.  Lance Jeffers does not depend on mutilation of language, allusion to the arcane, or puzzles in logic to achieve effects.  He is too good and too honest an artist to engage in easy tricks.  He knows, as wordsmiths have known since the […]

Gil Scott-Heron and a Hint-filled Detail

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

[By Jerry W. Ward] “Gil Scott-Heron was one of [the] most insightful thinkers of the late twentieth century,”  Tony Bolden writes in Chapter 22 of The Cambridge History of African American Literature, “yet few critics have considered him a serious artist” (552).  Few have commented on Scott-Heron’s serious artistry in the novel The Nigger Factory (New York: Dial, 1972; Edinburgh: Canongate Books, 2010).  This work […]

The Ethnic Ethical Turn

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

[By Jerry W. Ward] Nature extracts a high cost for beauty.  From an amoral aesthetic perspective, Hurricane Isaac’s performance of a logarithmic spiral is beautiful.  The sublime beauty of a hurricane kills people.  Does the beauty of our cultural studies and theories participate in such murder? The amorality of nature is a foil for the presence or absence of ethics in the works of human […]

Black Literature and the Democratic Spirit

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

[By Jerry Ward] The democratic spirit demands that all voices be heard and that all interests be represented.  In the literary sector of everyday life, the spirit can manifest itself as a risk-free membership plan offered by an African American book club.  If I join the club, I can get three books for “$3, plus shipping & processing and applicable taxes.  I agree to buy […]

Witherspoon: A Novel by Lance Jeffers (1983)*

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

[By Jerry Ward] INTRODUCTION Such Agonies Suffer Our Men of War Reading Witherspoon, one is moved by its aesthetic and its morality.  Lance Jeffers does not depend on mutilation of language, allusion to the arcane, or puzzles in logic to achieve effects.  He is too good and too honest an artist to engage in easy tricks.  He knows, as wordsmiths have known since the pre-history […]

A Poetic Journey

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

[By Prof. Jerry Ward] Once in the 1970s when I was driving E. Ethelbert Miller and a lady whose work got some attention in the early twentieth century to some event, the lady snidely remarked that Margaret Walker was a one-poem poet.  A young man must respect his elders.  I winced in silence.  Literary history does reward snobbishness.  The lady is as seldom mentioned for […]