This concise analysis of the poetry of Anne Bradstreet is excerpted from Who Lived Here? A Baker’s Dozen of Historic New England Houses and Their Occupants by Marc Antony DeWolfe Howe, an eminent editor and writer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Anne Bradstreet (1612 – 1672) was the first writer in the American colonies to be published.
She rejected the prevailing notions of women’s inferiority. That opened her to criticism, not for her work itself, but that she dared to write and make her work public. It was considered unacceptable for women of her time to have a voice. She not only used hers effectively but pushed back at her critics. Read More→
Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875 – 1935; also known as Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson) was a multitalented writer, poet, journalist, and teacher. She used her writings to advocate for the rights of women and African-Americans and was considered one of the premier poets of the Harlem Renaissance.
In addition to her highly regarded poetry, Alice was known for her short stories and searingly honest essays, in which she expressed the challenges of growing up mixed-race in Louisiana. Her heritage blended African-American, Creole, European, and Native American roots, which gave her a broad perspective on race. She explored theses in tandem with the varied and complex issues faced by women of color. Read More→
Gwendolyn B. Bennett (1902 – 1981) was a multitalented American poet, artist, columnist, educator, and arts administrator associated with the Harlem Renaissance movement of the 1920s.
Equally dedicated to visual and literary arts, her first published poem, “Heritage,” was published in the NAACP’s journal, The Crisis, in 1923. Her most productive period as a poet was from 1926 and 1927, producing poems that explored themes of racial pride and reflected African motifs. “Fantasy” spoke to the aspirations of African-American women. “Dark Girl” encouraged black women to love themselves and aspire to the nobility of African queens.
Though Gwendolyn Bennett’s body of poetry wasn’t large, with around thirty of them published in The Crisis, Opportunity, and a few anthologies, they were impactful and earned her great respect from her peers. Here’s a selection for you to enjoy, from the pen of a creative woman who lived her life well and shouldn’t be forgotten. Read More→
On a recent visit to The Morgan Library in New York City, I spotted a tiny autograph manuscript of the poem “The Night of Storms has Passed” by Emily Brontë, dated June 10, 1837. In tiny, barely legible script on a card perhaps 3 by 4 inches, it was written shortly before her nineteenth birthday.
Remaining unpublished in her lifetime, it has since been included in collected poems by Emily, perhaps the most inscrutable of the Brontë sisters. The text accompanying the poem read as follows: Read More→
The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s was a fertile decade for African-American creatives of all kinds — writers, musicians, playwrights, and artists. Though like many movements it was male-dominated, many women rose to prominence. We explore some of those who made a lasting impact in Renaissance Women: 12 Female Writers of the Harlem Renaissance, some of whom will also appear in the following list. Here we present women poets of the Harlem Renaissance that have been somewhat or largely forgotten —but whose words and lives should continue to be celebrated.
In her preface to Black Sister: Poetry by Black American Women, 1746 – 1980, Erlene Stetson wrote:
“Black women poets have made a unique contribution to the American literary tradition. This contribution is shaped by their experience both as blacks and as women, an experience whose pressure they have resisted and at the same time as they have recognized its strategic survival value in life and exploited its symbolic power in their art.” Read More→