BLuE LiGHt sUtrAs

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1971 - 1989

1976

Ah! Cruel blindness to Columbia's state!
Lament thy thirst of boundless power too late.
Proceed, great chief, with virtue on thy side,
Thy ev'ry action let the goddess guide.

“To His Excellency General Washington” Phillis Wheatley, 1775

What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?


“Those Winter Sundays”
Robert Hayden, 1966

I have known this Boy before.
I have known this Boy before, who
ornaments my alley.
I never saw his face at all.
I never saw his future fall.
But I have known this Boy.

“The Boy Died in My Alley”
Gwendolyn Brooks, 1975
Gwendolyn Brooks is the first Black American woman to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Owen Dodson in 1949, when he was a member of the Drama Faculty of Howard University.
Inspired by a television performance by jazz great Duke Ellington, Owen Dodson composes The Morning Duke Ellington Praised the Lord and Seven Little Black Davids Tap-Danced Unto.

The trumpets spit back a dance:
Then there is doomsday and eternity
Sitting on your black entrails.


“The Morning Duke Ellington Praised the Lord and Seven Little Black Davids Tap-Danced Unto”
Owen Dodson, 1975

They were women then
My mama's generation
Husky of voice--Stout of
Step


“Women”
Alice Walker, 1973
1983
Alice Walker’s The Color Purple wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award. She is the first Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Gwendolyn Brooks becomes Poet Laureate of the United States.
1985

Never to look a hot comb in the teeth. You have not bought Blondine.
You have not hailed the hot-comb recently.
You never worshipped Marilyn Monroe.
You say: Farrah's hair is hers.
You have not wanted to be white.


“To Those of My Sisters Who Kept Their Naturals”
Gwendolyn Brooks, 1980

Thomas imagined
his wife as she awoke missing him,
cracking a window. He heard sirens
rise as the keys swung, ticking.


“Thomas at the Wheel”
Rita Dove, 1986
1987
Rita Dove’s Thomas and Beulah wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
The Dark Room Collective is founded, featuring writing workshops and readings attended by leading Black writers. Yusef Komunyakaa’s Dien Cai Dau, a book of poems about his military experiences in Vietnam, wins the 1988 Dark Room Poetry Prize.
1988

We wove
ourselves into the terrain,
content to be a hummingbird's target.


“Camouflaging the Chimera”
Yusef Komunyakaa, 1988