Lucy Terry Prince: Witness, Voice, and Poetics within the American Tradition

Lucy Terry Prince: Witness, Voice, and Poetics within the American Tradition

Presenter: Shanta Lee Gander

This exploration starts with a question: what is the arc from Lucy Terry Prince to the modern moment  of the spoken word within poetry? Lucy’s poem, “Bars Fight,” survived for 100 years in oral tradition before appearing for the first time in 1854 in the Springfield Daily Republican.  This talk explores some of the roots of orality in connection with Lucy Terry Prince, the first known African American poet in the U.S. From there, we will explore how this poem's survival fits within a constellation of other poets in journeying from the oral to the written. What are some conclusions can we draw about creative lineage in relation to poetics? When it comes to the transference of poetry through oral tradition, how do we apply that to the bigger question of knowledge transference across a diaspora? These and other bigger questions alongside poetry  are explored within this lecture.

 

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