A Dream

Here’s a second poem by Afro-American Modernist poet Fenton Johnson. Like the first piece of Johnson’s that I presented earlier this week, there’s a religious element, but it’s handled this time with a remarkable framing device. As published in 1921, “A Dream”  is the longer of two pieces which are grouped together as “Two Negro … Continue reading A Dream

I’m not a scholar, but I play one on the Internet

Let me write a post about something that I experienced recently, just like a real blog would do. Early this month I attended a virtual symposium Sonnets from the American  organized by Dora Malech and Laura T. Smith.*  I’ve heard “Zoom Fatigue” is a thing now, but I found it energizing. I’m still integrating things … Continue reading I’m not a scholar, but I play one on the Internet

And the most popular piece here last season was…

Musician jokes have a cruel streak, though most musicians love them.   “How can you tell if there’s a drummer knocking at your door?” “Because his knocking speeds up and slows down, and he doesn’t know when to come in”     “Did you hear about the banjo player who played in tune?” “Neither did … Continue reading And the most popular piece here last season was…

Tired

I’m going to close out our investigation into the little-known early 20th Century Chicago Modernist poet Fenton Johnson with one of his most emotionally moving poems. James Weldon Johnson first included “Tired”  in his “Book of American Negro Poetry”  in 1922, and it has been anthologized several times since. “Tired”  remains the poem of Fenton … Continue reading Tired

Two men walk into a hotel room, and…

I can’t say what day this happened, but it was sometime in 1916 in Davenport Iowa. A well-off, Harvard-educated man in his mid-thirties named Witter Bynner was visiting a former Harvard classmate Arthur Davison Ficke in the latter’s elegant home. Besides family wealth, both men shared an interest in the arts, and both were published … Continue reading Two men walk into a hotel room, and…