Crossroads Modernism : Descent and Emergence in African-American Literary Culture

Crossroads Modernism : Descent and Emergence in African-American Literary Culture

Crossroads Modernism : Descent and Emergence in African-American Literary Culture

Crossroads Modernism : Descent and Emergence in African-American Literary Culture

Synopsis

Offering new insights into the work of a variety of African-American artists, Pavlic explores the complex ways in which key modernist philosophical ideas and creative techniques have informed black culture.

Excerpt

The crossroads is a real place between imaginary places—points of departure and arrival. It is also a place where negotiations and deals are made with higher powers. in the West African and Haitian traditions of Legba, it is a sanctified place of reflection (mirrors are used in symbolic travel). the crossroads is a junction….There is an accrued bravery here. It is this cultural dualism, this ability to be two places at once, to be a shape changer, that strengthens the creative quest….There's a jagged persistence that documents and duplicates the awkward reality of our contemporary lives and imaginations.

—Yusef Komunyakaa, “Crossroads”

The point of view which I am struggling to attack is perhaps related to the metaphysical theory of the substantial unity of the soul: for my meaning is, that the poet has, not a “personality” to express, but a particular medium, which is only a medium and not a personality, in which impressions and experiences combine in peculiar and unexpected ways. [This] concentration [is] a new thing resulting from the concentration[] of a very great number of experiences which to the practical and active person would not seem to be experiences at all.

—T. S. Eliot, “Tradition and the Individual Talent”

Did You Say Black Modernism?

The clear affinities between T. S. Eliot and Yusef Komunyakaa point to a real, if still not adequately understood, relationship between modernism . . .

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