After Winter: The Art and Life of Sterling A. Brown

After Winter: The Art and Life of Sterling A. Brown

After Winter: The Art and Life of Sterling A. Brown

After Winter: The Art and Life of Sterling A. Brown

Synopsis

John Edgar Tidwell and Steven C. Tracy have brought together for the first time a book-length collection of critical and theoretical writings about Sterling A. Brown that recovers and reasserts his continuing importance for a contemporary audience. Exploring new directions in the study of Brown's life and work, After Winter includes new and previously published essays that sum up contemporary approaches to Brown's multifaceted works; interviews with Brown's acquaintances and contemporaries; an up-to-date, annotated bibliography; and a discography of source material that innovatively extends the study and teaching of Brown's acclaimed poetry, especially his Southern Road, focusing on recordings of folk materials relevant to the subject matter, style, and meaning of individual poems from his oeuvre.

Excerpt

John Edgar Tidwell and Steven C. Tracy

There are fewer than 120 poems in just over 230 pages of poems in Sterling Brown’s Collected Poems, little more than one-third the number in Robert Frost’s 500 page collected poems, and far fewer than Carl Sandburg’s nearly 800-page poetic output of more than 800 poems. the sixteen volumes of Langston Hughes’s Collected Works dwarfs the amount of Brown’s work (he also wrote essays, short stories, and scholarly works), as do the collected works of Brown followers like Amiri Baraka and Michael Harper. Perhaps that explains some of the difficulty Brown has had taking his rightful place in the American canon. in a culture that lionizes the Great American Novel, not the Great American Haiku, more sprawling evidence of an author’s literary work is frequently necessary for the arbiters of literary value. This holds true even for the author of that perennial candidate for the Great American Novel, Invisible Man; Ralph Ellison’s failure to finish a second novel has proven troubling among canonformers in some quarters. Size matters.

Certainly as an African American writer Brown has been shunted aside by some white critics, who for racist reasons have not been exposed to his work or don’t have the resources to understand his employment of the folk idiom. Brown knew this, and he addressed in his work the difficulties of African American writers with their audiences and publishers—difficulties that could hamstring their attempts to gain appreciation, publication, and sales. and certainly Brown . . .

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