Celebration Of African-American Poetry At U.Va. Oct. 28 Will Feature
Legendary Poet Gwendolyn Brooks
Oct. 8, 1999 -- Pulitzer
Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks, one of the Americas most
revered cultural figures, will join a host of other notable guests
for a special evening devoted to African-American poetry at the
University of Virginia on Thursday, Oct. 28. The event will also
feature jazz by the Free Bridge Quintet with vocals by Kyra Gaunt.
8 p.m. program, open to the public in Old Cabell Hall Auditorium,
marks the publication, by the University Press of Virginia, of "Harlem
Gallery and Other Poems of Melvin B. Tolson," edited by U.Va.
English professor Raymond Nelson, and of "The Furious Flowering
of African American Poetry," a major collection of interviews
and essays edited by James Madison University English professor
Joanne V. Gabbin. The event is sponsored by the Press with support
from the U.Va. President's and Provost's offices, the Virginia Foundation
for the Humanities and Public Policy, and the Furious Flowering
Poetry Center at JMU.
Brooks, Nelson and Gabbin will be Tolsons son, Melvin B. Tolson
Jr., and U.Va. English professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita
Dove, who wrote an introduction to the new Tolson collection.
"Harlem Gallery and Other Poems" collection brings together
for the first time the full body of poetry of one of black Americas
most important modern voices. "Harlem Gallery" has been
praised as a masterpiece about African-American life, with a strong
concern with social justice and a powerful range of tones and mesmerizing
imagery. Tolsons poetry won significant praise during his
lifetime but has been our of print for decades.
poets son, Melvin Tolson Jr., a retired professor of French
at the University of Oklahoma, will be returning to the place of
his birth. His mother, Ruth Southall Tolson, en route to Texas from
New York, briefly stayed in Charlottesville to be with members of
her extensive Virginia family.
Brooks, who in 1949 became the first black poet to win the Pulitzer
Prize, is the author of many popular poems that deal with everyday
life of urban African-Americans. Born in 1917, she has lived in
Chicago most of her life.
poetry collections include "A Street in Bronzeville,"
"The Bean Eaters," "Selected Poems," "In
the Mecca," "Children Coming Home," and many others.
She served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in
also won the Pulitzer Prize, in 1987, and served as Poet Laureate
and Consultant to the Library of Congress from 1993-95.
Madison University English professor Joanne V. Gabbin edited "The
Furious Flowering of African American Poetry" collection of
interviews and essays about black poetry, with its wellsprings in
jazz and vernacular culture and its inescapable political dimension.
The volume grew out of a major conference in 1994 at James Madison
Bob Brickhouse, (804) 924-6856 or Mary Kathryn Hassett, (804) 924-6064