New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement

By Lisa Gail Collins; Margo Natalie Crawford | Go to book overview

16
Latin Soul
Cross-Cultural Connections
between the Black Arts
Movement and Pocho-Che

Rod Hernandez

In 1974, Umbra magazine, the journal of the Umbra literary group and one of the most influential publications of the Black Arts Movement, relocated from its birthplace on the Lower East Side of New York City to its new home base in the East Bay city of Berkeley, California. The move wasn't merely geographical. An anthology marked the occasion, and it was significant not least because of its theme and subtitle: Latin Soul. What this term meant to the editors of Umbra— who at that time were David Henderson, Barbara T. Christian, and contributors such as Victor Hernández Cruz—is mentioned in the opening sentence of their brief introduction to the anthology. "'LATIN-SOUL,'" they write, "has been in use for a while, mainly in the Black and Puerto-Rican areas of New York where both groups often jam to the same music: Latin and Soul."1 They go on to identify this term not only with the various minority communities inside the United States (the Mission District of San Francisco, in particular) but also with poets who represent disenfranchised peoples throughout the Americas.

The anthology itself contains tributes to Nicolás Guillén and César Vallejo (which include translations of their poems); a section on the "Guerrilla Poetry of South America" (with works by Otto Rene Castillo, Roque Dalton, Violeta Parra, Ernesto Cardenal, and Fernando Alegría); selected poems by a range of writers from Latin America as well as the United States (among them Luis Pales Matos, Pedro Pietri, Roberto Vargas, Ishmael Reed, Pablo Neruda, Alejandro Murguía, Carmen Alegría, Victor Hernández Cruz, Thulani Davis, David Henderson, Langston Hughes, and Avotcja); and graphic art contributed by Rupert García, Isabel Alegría, Joe Overstreet, Arthur Monroe, Alejandro Stuart, and Adal.

Published in the waning days of what is normally considered the period of the Black Arts Movement (1965–1975), the Latin Soul edition of Umbra maga-

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