The Brontë sisters — Charlotte, Emily, and Anne — literary geniuses all, are best known for their classic novels, but each was a poet in her own right. Though Emily’s has come to be known as the best among their poetic works, poems by Charlotte Brontë are more than meriting of a consideration.
Charlotte is best known for Jane Eyre (1847) and also wrote Shirley (1849) and Villette (1853). Before attempting to publish novels, Charlotte undertook the task of finding a home for a collaborative book of poems, thinking it would be a good stepping stone (it wasn’t, as it turned out). The sisters took masculine, or at least indeterminate, noms de plume. In Charlotte’s words:
“We had very early cherished the dream of one day becoming authors. This dream, never relinquished even when distance divided and absorbing tasks occupied us, now suddenly acquired strength and consistency: it took the character of a resolve. We agreed to arrange a small section of our poems, and, if possible, get them printed. Read More→
“Patterns,” a poem by American imagist poet Amy Lowell (1874 – 1925, was published in Men, Women and Ghosts (1919). It exemplifies the imagery-dense free verse for which she was known.
Though Men, Women and Ghosts is a book of poems, Lowell begins her preface by writing that “This is a book of stories.” She goes on to say:
“For that reason I have excluded all purely lyrical poems. But the word ‘stories’ has been stretched to its fullest application. It includes both narrative poems, properly so called; tales divided into scenes; and a few pieces of less obvious storytelling import in which one might say that the dramatis personae are air, clouds, trees, houses, streets, and such like things. Read More→
Margaret Walker (1915 – 1998) is best known for her acclaimed novel, Jubilee (1966) as well as her richly evocative poetry. Here we’ll explore a sampling of poems by Margaret Walker, works that speak powerfully to the African-American experience.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Walker grew up in New Orleans and eventually settled in Chicago, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in 1935. Growing up, she was particularly taken with the poetry of Langston Hughes.
In 1936, Walker joined the Federal Writers’ Project and the South Side Writers Group, where she became friends with fellow writer and poet, Richard Wright. In 1940, she earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Iowa. She and Wright both participated in the movement called The Chicago Black Renaissance. Read More→
Lucille Clifton (1936 – 2010) was a poet, teacher, and children’s book author whose life and career began in western New York. Her poetry is recognizable because of its purposeful lack of punctuation and capitalization. Here is a selection of 10 poems by Lucille Clifton, a small sampling of her prolific output.
Clifton’s widely respected poetry focuses on social issues, the African-American experience, and the female identity. Her poetry has been praised for its wise use of strong imagery, and lines that have even given the spacing of words meaning.
Poet Elizabeth Alexander praises Clifton’s use of strong language in her poetry, which was often spare and brief. Robin Becker of The American Poetry Review states that Clifton emphasizes the human element and morality of her poetry that’s amplified by the use of improper grammar. Read More→
Amy Lowell (1874 – 1925), an influential yet undervalued American poet, was an energetic evangelist of the art of poetry for all her adult life. Here is presented “Lilacs,” said to be the one of the poet’s own favorites, and among the poems she recited most often in her many public readings.
First published first published in the New York Evening Post on September 18, 1920, “Lilacs” went on to be included in a 1922 modernist poetry anthology.
Finally, “Lilacs” became part of Lowell’s 1925 collection What’s O’ Clock, which received the Pulitzer Prize the following year. Unfortunately, the poet died before receiving this honor. She was only 51, having suffered from poor health for some time. Read More→