This Sunday on the Nightside with Andy O’

We will feature music from the birthday celebrants…

Roy Hargrove (in particular his poetry with RH Factor)

Ray Anderson wild man of Trombone Trickery

Tim Berne Avant as Avant Garde gets

and a day early we celebrate Black Poetry Day…

A bit of history on the day

In 1970, a folk musician, Stanley A. Ransom, proposed that October 17 be set aside as a day to celebrate black culture and literature. Black Poetry Day was created in 1985 to honor the birth of the pioneer Black poet in the United States, Jupiter Hammon, and call attention to the literary works and accomplishments of African-American writers.

Hammon was born during the time of slavery on October 17, 1711, at the Lloyd Manor in Long Island. His masters, The Lloyds, allowed him to receive some education through the Anglican Church’s Society for The Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. Hammon took advantage of this education and created poetry that was supported with layered metaphors and symbols. In 1761, when he was nearly 50, Jupiter Hammon published his first poem called “An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries.” As a respected preacher and clerk, his poems about slavery received wide circulation. Eighteen years after his first poem was published, Jupiter Hammon got a second poem published, “An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley.” Wheatley was the first published black female author and Jupiter Hammon admired her and encouraged her with a dedication poem.

Hammon recognized the need to support and encourage other black writers like himself, especially at a time when black writers rarely received the support their white counterparts did. Today, there are thousands of talented black poets around the world writing about both the shared black experience and their own unique experiences through different forms including written poetry, rap, and spoken-word poetry. While Black Poetry Day is celebrated throughout the United States, Oregon is the only state to designate it as a state holiday.

Image: Now and Then by Gil Scott Heron by Louise McLaren, from Flickr

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