*Forms of Contention: Influence and the African American Sonnet Tradition*

That is the new, excellent, and timely book by Hollis Robbins, the title is descriptive, here is one excerpt:

“If We Must Die” calls for resistance to violence in an environment of violence. The power of [Claude] McKay’s sonnet—Shakespearean and yet with modern diction—is the tension between the measured lines and rhyme, the poetic phrases and the brutal words, the combination of enjambments and exclamation points in the octave, and the more deliberate and determined pace of the sestet. “If We Must Die” is a defiant call to action. The rage of the poem is made more potent by the tension of the sonnet form straining to contain it.

The book argues for the centrality of sonnet writing to African American poetry, and that the African American tradition was not simply parasitic on European models.  A “sestet,” by the way, is the last six lines of a sonnet, but not a good Scrabble word because you have to waste two “s’s” to play it.

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The great black American literary genre is the autobiography.

@SS - Have you read "The Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison? Do you think rap is indigenous to black Americans or a white minstrel show in disguise? Is this covered in your oeuvre?

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Cultural appropriation.

Thagaste was in Africa so maybe not.

Since American Blacks are descended from subSaharan Africans that point manages to be both true and a falsehood. Jesuitical, I suppose.

Kind of like how British guys are fags but aren’t gay.

Granted I know that’s not your class and those weren’t your schools. You from the low born humorless once non-conforming now bitterly atheist caste.

I quit working at shoprite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I'm working online! My work didn't exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new…... RDs after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn't be happier.

Here’s what I do…............ b­i­z­p­r­o­f­i­t­9.c­o­m

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"The rage of the poem is made more potent by the tension of the sonnet form straining to contain it."

Nah, rap has way more potent rage than poems and sonnets. The diss track continues the great American tradition of raging at authorities from Tom Paine to Tupac.

A diss track is more of a taunt aimed at a supposed peer, rather than an authority, is it not?

"F*** the Police" counts as a diss track, no?

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It's a good Scrabble word if you can play it to pluralize two other words!

By the way, Javier Vazquez is the baseball player whose name has the highest sum of scrabble tile values.

Or, add another "s" for sestets and get your 50 point bonus.

Sestina wastes fewer s's and you get your 50 point bonus. It's nice if someone leaves you a place to put one of the s's so you get the triple word score both ways.

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And if you're not getting those esses to land where you need them, consider the anagram tsetse

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I find it really strange that TC started out writing about African American poetry and then veered into "Scrabble words." I don't fault him for not having much to say about black poetry, pity as it might be, but why write about it and then conspicuously change the subject to board games?

Weird.

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A culture so ethno-narcissistic that it is, ironically, incapable of functional co-existence in a cosmopolitan world.

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This is interesting to me because I have always considered the sonnet to be important to the black and African American literary tradition. I mean, it's pretty important from Phyllis Wheatley all the way to Robert Hayden. Sonnets are very often lyric, lyrics became rap, etc.

I suppose what I'd be most curious about is how academia denies that the sonnet is central to that tradition. I'd guess they posit some sort of metaphorical colonialism. Anyone know?

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This is a fascinating development. All the arts benefit from traditional constraints. They provide a bridge between the generations, allow you to compete with your forbears, and in the end, give you something to rebel against. The old forms in all the arts are still popular with everyone but the artistic elites. There's an enormous space there for any young artist, minority or otherwise, to succeed.

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"The rage of the poem is made more potent by the tension of the sonnet form straining to contain it."
This is uncomfortably close to how white people used to write about jazz. Anthony Braxton writes about how jazz was passed over by prize committees for being "too sweaty" and "not serious enough" but then critics would pan any jazz that was "too serious" and "not sweaty enough". Just a thought.

Imagine defending jazz in 2020. Jazz was the bruthas Esperanto. Both so so so dumb. of course jazz is way more noisy and a lot more people got knifed at jazz clubs.

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I know lots of Africans from Africa. I don't know any Americans from Africa.

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