--Sonia Sanchez, poet
"The poetry of a people comes from the deep recesses of the unconscious, the irrational and the collective body of our ancestral memories."
-- Margaret Walker, writer
Listen up. After receiving e-mails asking the daddy about poets, he decided to spend this week posting about well-known and lesser known poets that he believes all Americans, but especially African Americans, should know. Today, the daddy is feeling Margaret Walker, a great poet who wrote in the tradition of Gwendolyn Brooks and Sterling Brown.
She began writing in the 1930s and was still writing in the 1990’s, when she died at the age of 83. Her writing bridged the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s and 1930’s and the black arts movement of the 1960’s.
Another interesting fact about Ms. Walker is that she helped Richard Wright outline and do research for the book "Native Son."
"For My People,” her most famous poem, speaks of the struggles of blacks but also their yearning for a new day:
For My People
dirges and their ditties and their blues and jubilees, praying their
prayers nightly to an unknown god, bending their knees humbly
to an unseen power;
For my people lending their strength to the years, to the gone years
and the now years and the maybe years, washing ironing cooking
scrubbing sewing mending hoeing plowing digging planting
pruning patching dragging along never gaining never reaping
never knowing and never understanding;
For my people standing staring trying to fashion a better way from
confusion, from hypocrisy and misunderstanding, trying to
fashion a world that will hold all the people, all the faces, all the
adams and eves and their countless generations;
Let a new earth rise. Let another world be born. Let a bloody peace be
written in the sky. Let a second generation full of courage issue
forth; let a people loving freedom come to growth. Let a beauty
full of healing and a strength of final clenching be the pulsing in
our spirits and our blood. Let the martial songs be written, let
the dirges disappear. Let a race of men now rise and take control.