Since the early 1900s, February has been known as Black History month and although today there is some controversy surrounding such a celebration, in view of our new President, I believe it is a nice gesture.
In honor of this month, I would like to mention the latest issue of Alehouse which features the work and lives of African-American poets. And just as an FYI, I have an essay in the volume entitled, ‘The Poet’s Notebook,’ which focuses on African-American poets, both past and present who use notebooks to craft their poetry.
Before discussing this article, I must say that Jay Rubin, the editor of Alehouse has been absolutely fabulous to work with. The publication is released only once a year, and surely he needs that much time to get such a perfect collection together. He needs to be applauded.
I encourage you to pick up this publication. In the meantime, just to whet your appetite, here are some salient points from my particular essay:
1) As poets, we cannot always trust our memories, which is a good reason to carry a notebook.
2) Yusef Komunyakaa considers notebooks as “scrapbooks—pieced together with fragments, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, long and short passages.”
3) Rita Dove says she cannot live without notebooks where her poems “evolve slowly, in spurts and splutters, on these college-ruled pages.”
4) Dorothy Randall Gray says that without a notebook she feels “naked.”
5) Keeping a notebook is a powerful tool for coping with difficult times. Langston Hughes often wrote in his journal when feeling bad, “in order to keep from feeling worse.”
6) Al Young, California’s Poet Laureate began keeping a journal in his early teens as a place to chronicle daily impressions. Major Jackson did the same.