Journal of Ethnic American Literature

Articles

No. 6, 2016

Celebrating Michael S. Harper: An Introduction
When John Zheng contacted me late in the spring of 2015 to inquire about my interest in guest editing a volume of the ? ? Journal of Ethnic American Literature, I was, of course, both honored and excited to accept his invitation. At the same time, saying...
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Michael Harper and the Music
Matthew Arnold criticized the poet Horace for being insufficiently fortifying. That was Arnold the liberal Victorian sage-a position far from our own sensibilities. In a twentieth-century liberal democratic state, neither poets nor intellectuals are...
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Complexity Begins Responsibility
Our mode is our jam sessionof tradition,past in this present momentarticulated, blown throughwith endurance [...] ("Corrected Review" Images of Kin, 64)Kansas State University, where I teach, is just an hour's drive from the Monroe School in Topeka that...
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Harper and Trane: Modal Enactments of A Love Supreme
There is never any end.... There are always newsounds to imagine, new feelings to getat. And always, there is the need to keeppurifying these feelings and sounds so thatwe can really see what we've discovered.... Sothat we can see more clearly what we...
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Triple-Conscious Brothers in the Veil: Reading Michael S. Harper through John Brown and W. E. B. Du Bois
Poet Michael Harper recovers the fervent abolitionist John Brown for his own time in the "History as Cap'n Brown" series. As the opening section of Harper's Debridement (1973) volume, the series set issues, ideals and actions encompassed by John Brown...
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Body Poetry Torn Asunder: (Dis)figuring the Vietnam War in Michael Harper's Debridement
In an interview with Edwin Fussell published in 1975, shortly after the United States' military withdrawal from South Vietnam, Michael Harper said that it is the need to adhere to a narrow, "closed" myth of history that has perpetuated white hegemony...
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Michael Harper's High Modes: The Burden of Metaphor and the Rites of Memory
I bring my gospel of the MuseTo fundamentalists, to nuns,To Gentiles and to Jews.W. H. Auden, On the CircuitI had a dream last night-that I was dead,I had a dream last night-that I was dead,Evil spirits all around my bed.Bessie Smith, Blue Spirit Blues1In...
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Michael S. Harper: An Interview with Michael Antonucci
On January 26, John Zheng wrote to Michael Antonucci, a student who studied with Michael S. Harper and a scholar who has done extensive research on Harper's work, asking for an interview on Michael S. Harper by email. The interview was conducted with...
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Celebrating Harper: A Narrative Remembrance
We had come to each other's acquaintance through the agency of Michael Harper, and after a series of unlikely but fortunate circumstances, were both employed by the English Department of Bowdoin College.We were pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm...
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Celebrating Harper Festival Keynote Address 1
Thank you very much. President Edwards, and Anthony, I came to honor Harper, not to rob him of his honor, but this has been a marvelous welcome and I'm delighted to be given such praise in such understanding and exact terms-exact about me, not exact...
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Michael S. Harper (1938-2016)
Forty-five years ago, just a year after Michael Harper's amazing first book, Dear John, Dear Coltrane, was published, he came to Kenyon, like so many other young poets, to read on the Ohio Poetry Circuit. After his reading, we watched the NBA finals...
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Michael Harper, Poet and Metaphysician
When I interviewed Michael Harper for The Iowa Review in 2009, he recounted that Ishmael Reed once had quipped, "Harper, everybody in your poetry seems to live in the emergency ward," a comment prompted by the blistering sequence "Ruth's Blues" in History...
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Michael S. Harper: An Introduction 1
While I first met Michael Harper in 1969 in Al Young's poetry workshop at Stanford University-Michael no doubt read that day poems that would soon appear in Dear John, Dear Coltrane, his first book-our affection and our work together did not begin until...
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No. 5, 2015

Why George Has to Die: Gloria Naylor's Mama Day and the Myth of the Goddess
Whenever we reach the end of Mama Day, most of my students are outraged, just as I was when I first read the novel, that Naylor kills off the likable George. The question of why George has to die has haunted criticism. Most answers emphasize his flaws....
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Abrasion: Aesthetic Challenges in African American Poetry
In studies of poetics, and in theoretical discourses on reader response which are not informed by research being done by the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics,1 it is unlikely that the subject of abrasion (scraping as well as smoothing)...
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"I Own My Own Masters": Rap Music and Slavery References
Despite many problematic shortcomings-including misogyny, materialism, and violence-rap music contains a fair amount of educational and inspiring qualities. And listeners do not even have to travel to the revered "underground" to encounter moments of...
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Thoreau, the Literary Artist and Urbanization
Henry David Thoreau, in the middle of the nineteenth century, had squarely faced the possibility that life in urbanized America, with its growing number of nineteenth-century conveniences, might work to the disadvantage of the individual who wanted to...
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A Beacon of Hope or Not: No-Yong Park's Mixed Vision of America
Born of Korean refugees in Manchuria during the Japanese invasion of Korea, No-Yong Park (1899-1976)1 became disillusioned with his native Confucian culture and fled to Europe in search of a modern Western education. Hearing that the center of modern...
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The Land Is a Way of Life: The Possibilities of Traditional Ecological Knowledge
In "How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Term Anthropocene," Timothy Morton writes that "Anthropocene ends the concept nature: a stable, nonhuman background to (human) history." He explains that "Anthropocene" names the geologic period since...
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An Interview with Gish Jen
Gish Jen is a contemporary Chinese American writer, who received her BA in English from Harvard University and her MFA in Fiction from the University of Iowa. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Jen has distinguished herself as an author...
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Pilsen Snow: Poems
Philip C. Kolin, Pilsen Snow: Poems. Georgetown, KY: Finishing Line P, 2015. ISBN 978-1-62229-910-2. $14.49 (paper).Review of Philip C. Kolin's Pilsen SnowPilsen Snow, the new volume of poetry by Philip C. Kolin, appears at an opportune moment, with...
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The Open Eye
Lenard D. Moore, The Open Eye. 30th Anniversary Edition. Eugene, OR: Mountains & Rivers P, 2015. ISBN 978-0-9896021-3-6, pp 61. $16.00 (paper).Review of Lenard D. Moore's The Open EyeThe Open Eye , which was Lenard D. Moore's first haiku book published...
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Home/Bass
Sterling D. Plumpp, Home/Bass. Chicago: Third World P, 2013. ISBN 978-0-88378-345-0. $18.95 (paper).Review of Sterling D. Plumpp's Home/BassSterling D. Plumpp assembles thirty-eight powerful poems in his latest volume of verse, Home/Bass. The collection...
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No. 4, 2014

Introduction: Black Poetry and Technology
"It is gradually becoming obvious in the early years of the 21st century that inquiry about traditions and their components can make little progress if scholarship and criticism cling to 'traditional' methods, if thinkers do not test how interdisciplinary...
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Hashtag Black Poetry
At the conclusion of my Black Poetry course, I admit to feeling bewildered about how to assess it. I wanted to figure out how my foray into digital humanities1 (with a Twitter assignment) complemented my students' understanding and aided me in teaching....
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Leveraging Metadata to Present Poet Eugene B. Redmond's Personal Collection Online
The Eugene B. Redmond Collection at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), a gift from the eponymous poet and poetry scholar, constitutes an immensely rich resource of primary source materials that can be broadly characterized as relating...
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Public History and Private Life in Elizabeth Alexander's Crave Radiance: A Data Analysis
Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010 (2010) showcases Elizabeth Alexander's ability to use her poetry to both express and teach, reflecting on her own life and highlighting African American figures from history. Alexander explores multiple...
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Black Women Poets by the Numbers: Evie Shockley and Allison Joseph
Canonical poets such as Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Margaret Walker, and Maya Angelou are widely recognized and anthologized. Accordingly, they have received considerable critical or popular attention. However, contemporary poets, whose works...
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The Afrofuturist Poetry of Tracie Morris and Tracy K. Smith
The genre of poetry, much like fiction, is a creative outlet in which authors explore varied ideas, images, and issues that audiences may then analyze, critique, and appreciate. What happens when poetry and technology, or poetry and science fiction collide?...
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Getting off at the 13th Floor: Rap Genius and Archiving 21st Century Black Cultural Memory
In his verse on Goodie Mob's song "Thought Process," rapper Andre "3000" Benjamin declares, "I got off at the 13th floor/when they told me there wasn't one." The imagery of the 13th floor, a phantom space attached to misfortune and paranoia, is reimagined...
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I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say: Recording the Prehistory of Jazz
I thought I heard Buddy Bolden shout:"Open up that window and let that bad air out"-Jelly Roll Morton, "Buddy Bolden's Blues"Thus, having tried to give pattern to the chaos which lives within the pattern of your certainties, I must come out, I must emerge....
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No. 3, 2013

Nationalism, Transnationalism, Trans-Indigenism, Cosmopolitanism: Four Perspectives on Native American Literatures
At present, criticism of Native American literature is at a point where a recently dominant nationalist perspective, and a newly prominent transnationalist perspective have encountered each other somewhat uneasily. Also emerging more fully is what has...
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Gerald Vizenor's "Socioacupuncture" through His Haiku
Amy Lowell, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Wright, and Sonia Sanchez comprise a diverse group with one striking commonality. All of these American writers produced or, in Sanchez's case, is currently producing haiku, the poetic form originally...
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The Ubiquitous Basketball as Essence of Genius: Narrative Structure in Sherman Alexie's "Saint Junior"
In Sherman Alexie's short story collection The Toughest Indian in the World, the story "Saint Junior" features Roman Gabriel Fury reminiscing about his life. The reader is treated to some of Fury's philosophy of life and also to the thoughts of his partner,...
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Hearing Voices, Writing Music: Shay Youngblood's Reconfiguration of the Griot
There are three common misconceptions about griots: they are a product of the past; if they still exist, they do so only in Africa; and they are all male. Contrary to these beliefs, griots are alive and well both in their traditional roles as the official...
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An Interview with Sterling Plumpp
John Zheng: Professor Plumpp, you are a native son of Clinton, Mississippi. How has your coming of age in Mississippi influenced your poetry?Sterling Plumpp: Several things: The rural agricultural black peasant lifestyle and experience nourished my body...
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No. 2, 2012

The William Morris in Jhumpa Lahiri's Wallpaper and Other of the Writer's Reproofs to Literary Scholarship
The Superintendent gazed at his witness as if she was a broken machine, and said, "Are you mad?"E.M. Forster, A Passage to India (188)I didn't want to teach Women Beware Women. I just didn't want to do it.Jhumpa Lahiri on why she left academia1Had Jhumpa...
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A Grandmother's Seduction: Narrative Slippage and Ethnic Othering in Gish Jen's "Who's Irish?"
In his book, A Rhetoric of Irony, renowned narratologist Wayne Booth alerts readers of any work written in the form of dramatic monologue to the narrator's questionable creditability: "Such ironic portraits are perhaps more frequently slanted the other...
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Reading Shirley Geok-Lin Lim's Memoir as Travel Narrative in Search of Self, Home, and Community
Journeys are a human condition necessitated by voluntary or involuntary movements and relocations often accompanied by figurative quests to discover the traveler's self- worth and identity associated with home and community. Well-known examples of journey...
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The Role of Haiku in Hisaye Yamamoto's "Seventeen Syllables"
Hisaye Yamamoto, a Japanese American writer who is best known for the short story collection Seventeen Syllables and Other Stones, was born on August 23, 1921 in Redondo Beach, California. She is the daughter of immigrants from Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan,...
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"Why a Second Bomb?": Kamila Shamsie's Challenge to American Xenophobia in Burnt Shadows
The Hindu Times on October 23, 2010 writes that the literary contribution of writers from Pakistan in the U.S. and UK in the last 10 years is remarkable.1 The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) by Moshin Hamid, a novelist from Lahore, Pakistan, was not...
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