Langston Hughes

James Mercer Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1901, in Joplin, Missouri. Hughes’s birth year was revised from 1902 to 1901 after new research from 2018 uncovered that he had been born a year earlier. His parents divorced when he was a young child, and his father moved to Mexico. He was raised by his grandmother until he was thirteen, when he moved to Lincoln, Illinois, to live with his mother and her husband, before the family eventually settled in Cleveland, Ohio. It was in Lincoln that Hughes began writing poetry. After graduating from high school, he spent a year in Mexico followed by a year at Columbia University in New York City. During this time, he worked as an assistant cook, launderer, and busboy. He also travelled to Africa and Europe working as a seaman. In November 1924, he moved to Washington, D.C. Hughes’s first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, (Knopf, 1926) was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1926 with an introduction by Harlem Renaissance arts patron Carl Van VechtenCriticism of the book from the time varied, with some praising the arrival of a significant new voice in poetry, while others dismissed Hughes’s debut collection. He finished his college education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania three years later. In 1930 his first novel, Not Without Laughter (Knopf, 1930), won the Harmon gold medal for literature.

Hughes, who claimed Paul Laurence DunbarCarl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman as his primary influences, is particularly known for his insightful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties. He wrote novels, short stories, plays, and poetry, and is also known for his engagement with the world of jazz and the influence it had on his writing, as in his book-length poem Montage of a Dream Deferred (Holt, 1951). His life and work were enormously important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Unlike other notable black poets of the period such as Claude McKayJean Toomer, and Countee Cullen, Hughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the common experience of black America. He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including their love of music, laughter, and language itself alongside their suffering.

The critic Donald B. Gibson noted in the introduction to Modern Black Poets: A Collection of Critical Essays (Prentice Hall, 1973) that Hughes “differed from most of his predecessors among black poets… in that he addressed his poetry to the people, specifically to black people. During the twenties when most American poets were turning inward, writing obscure and esoteric poetry to an ever decreasing audience of readers, Hughes was turning outward, using language and themes, attitudes and ideas familiar to anyone who had the ability simply to read… Until the time of his death, he spread his message humorously—though always seriously—to audiences throughout the country, having read his poetry to more people (possibly) than any other American poet.”

In addition to leaving us a large body of poetic work, Hughes wrote eleven plays and countless works of prose, including the well-known “Simple” books: Simple Speaks His Mind (Simon & Schuster, 1950); Simple Stakes a Claim (Rinehart, 1957); Simple Takes a Wife (Simon & Schuster, 1953); and Simple’s Uncle Sam (Hill and Wang, 1965). He edited the anthologies The Poetry of the Negro and The Book of Negro Folklore, wrote an acclaimed autobiography, The Big Sea (Knopf, 1940), and cowrote the play Mule Bone (HarperCollins, 1991) with Zora Neale Hurston.

Langston Hughes died of complications from prostate cancer on May 22, 1967, in New York City. In his memory, his residence at 20 East 127th Street in Harlem has been given landmark status by the New York City Preservation Commission, and East 127th Street has been renamed “Langston Hughes Place.”

Dreams

Langston Hughes – 1901-1967

Hold fast to dreams 
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Cooking Broke

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shrimp and grits


Ingredients
Grits:
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 whipping cream
1 cup quick cooking grits
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup Parmesan

Directions
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the chicken stock, and whipping cream up to a low simmer. While simmering
whisk in the grits and a pinch of salt. Stir constantly and return to a low simmer. Cook until thickened, stirring
often, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-heat. Melt butter and sauté onion, garlic, and green bell pepper. Sauté until
tender and translucent, and add the sausage. When the sausage has cooked, add the shrimp and sauté for about 2
minutes. Add white wine and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve over the Parmesan cheese grits. Garnish with chopped chives.


peach crumb pie


Ingredients
Filling:
5 large, ripe but firm peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced (3 pounds)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cornstarch
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pie:
1 roll store-bought pie dough (recommended: Pillsbury)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced
Directions
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
To make the filling:
In a large bowl, combine the peaches, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the cornstarch to a small bowl and whisk in the
lemon juice so no lumps remain. Pour the cornstarch mixture over the peaches and toss. Let the peaches sit for 15
minutes while you roll out the pie dough and make the streusel topping.
To make the topping:
Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a large bowl. Blend the butter into the mixture with
your fingers until it forms pea-size lumps and looks crumbly. Stir in the almonds.
To assemble:
Roll out the dough an extra inch on a lightly-floured surface. Place the dough in the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan.
Crimp edges as desired.
Pour the pie filling into the pie shell and sprinkle the streusel topping over the pie. Dot the top with sliced butter.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving

BLACK FEMALES and MALES:

Is there trust in a relationship within Mainstream and Black Culture

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Trust in any relationship is necessary and important for it to be a good one. Trust assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone, one in which confidence is placed, dependence on something in the future– Webster dictionary 10th ed. Does mainstream culture promote and encourage TRUST among Black females and Black males? Looking at the images in mainstream culture suggest it doesn’t. black females– big, overweight, male hating, angry, etc. Black males– worthless, jobless, players, etc. mainstream economically– encourage high unemployment, poor education, high prison rates among black males, single parent, 2-ism info fill quotas, higher education among black females all of the above doesn’t encourage trust.

Black culture encouraged and promoted 2 family households, high employment among both, stable families, etc. at least in the past and among some blacks in the present. So yes there can and should be trust. But both has to work toward that goal. Use positive examples– the president and his wife. Bill Cosby and his, the couple across the street, the sister and the brother dating. Refuse to support any group including black ones that doesn’t encourage and help both main- stream (Black female and males) work toward trust. Ending relationships with people, be they family member s, friends, etc. that works against developing that trust. Asking ourselves the important question? Are we trust worthy? We must be honest with ourselves. Trustworthy people have trust worthy relationships. We must do the things necessary, keep our word, build our character, change our negative ways, etc. Will it be difficult? Yes, it is and will continue to be. The force against the black females and males developing, having trust is great. Using examples of the past, present, of the future black females and black males having trust suggest success. We are the ones making the choice to trust or not to trust. No one else. Its our choice. For those who chose to find work and do the things necessary to have trusting relationships you have my prayers, support and encouragement. And my thanks, because when I see you, you encourage me and mine. For those who chose not to…you get what you really want.

By; W.S.

Poetry

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Still I Rise

BY MAYA ANGELOU

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

Cooking Broke

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turkey bacon double cheese burger with fire roasted tomato sauce
Ingredients
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling plus 1 tablespoon
8 slices turkey bacon
2 1/2 pounds ground turkey breast
2 green onions, finely chopped
A handful cilantro, leaves finely chopped
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons zest and the juice of 2 limes
1 red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, lightly drained
2 rounded tablespoon grainy mustard
8 slices pepper jack cheese, from the deli counter
4 large sandwich size English muffins, lightly toasted


Directions
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add the turkey bacon. Cook until
crisp, 3 minutes on each side, remove to plate.
While the bacon cooks, combine the turkey breast, green onions, cilantro, chipotle, paprika, salt and pepper, lime zest and juice.
Mix the turkey breast with seasonings and form 4 sections, from each, 2 patties. Place the first 4 patties in the pan; cook 3 to 4
minutes on each side. Remove from the skillet and place onto a plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm
While the first batch of burgers cook heat 1 tablespoon oil in a sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and soften 3 to 4
minutes, season with salt and pepper and then add Worcestershire, brown sugar, tomatoes, and mustard. Let the sauce cook on
low.
Add the second batch of burgers to the skillet and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Top with a slice of cheese and 2 pieces
bacon. Tent skillet with foil and cook on low to moderate heat to melt cheese, about 1 minute.
Place burgers on muffin bottoms. Top with bacon double cheese burgers, fire roasted tomato sauce and English muffin top.


Portobello mushroom fries
Ingredients
Peanut oil, for frying
5 large portobello mushrooms
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Directions
Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.
Remove the gills and stems from the underside of the mushrooms and trim the edges off. Slice into 1/4-inch strips.
Measure flour into a pie plate. In another pie plate or bowl, combine panko, Parmigiano, parsley, red pepper flakes and
salt and pepper.
Dredge the mushrooms in flour, followed by the egg wash and finally in the panko.
Working in batches, place the breaded mushroom slices in the hot oil and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown.
Drain on a paper towel lined sheet tray

pimento cheese cakes
Ingredients
Frosting:
4 strips bacon, for garnish
12 ounces extra-sharp white Cheddar, grated
1/4 cup grated extra-sharp yellow Cheddar
1 (7-ounce) jar pimentos, drained and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon BBQ seasoning, recipe follows
4 chopped scallions, for garnish
For the frosting:


Directions
Cook the bacon, over medium heat in a small skillet, until crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and cool,
then chop and set aside. Combine the remaining ingredients, except the scallions, in a medium bowl and mix well. Refrigerate
for 2 hours.
For the batter:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, eggs, buttermilk and 3 tablespoons melted butter. Mix well to combine.
Sauté onions and jalapenos using 1/4 tablespoon butter, about 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper and chilies. Remove from heat, cool
slightly and add to the batter.
Spray 2 (12 capacity) muffin pans with nonstick spray. Fill the pans 3/4 full with the batter. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until
golden. Let cool and frost with pimento cheese mixture. Garnish with chopped bacon and chopped scallions.
grilled pineapple & onion salad
Ingredients
1 large pineapple, peeled
1 red onion, cut in 1/2-inch thick slices
Glaze, recipe follows
1 bag baby spinach
Vinaigrette, recipe follows


Directions
Preheat grill to medium heat.
Evenly cut the pineapple into 1/2-inch thick slices. Using a small 1-inch biscuit cutter, pierce a hole into middle of pineapple
slices. Brush the pineapple and onion slices with glaze, place on the grill and brush again with glaze. Grill for 2 minutes and
flip, grilling other side.
Place a bed of spinach leaves on a serving platter and top with the pineapple and onion slices. Drizzle with Vinaigrette and
serve.


Glaze:
1 (8-ounce) jar pineapple ice cream topping
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Place all ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk together.
Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Pour ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together

Covid and Mental Health

Can you actually have a love/hate with covid from effects towards mental health?

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The COVID-19 pandemic may have brought many changes to how you live your life, and with it, at times, uncertainty, altered daily routines, financial pressures and social isolation. You may worry about getting sick, how long the pandemic will last, whether your job will be affected and what the future will bring. Information overload, rumors and misinformation can make your life feel out of control and make it unclear what to do.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may experience stress, anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness. And mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, can worsen.

Surveys show a major increase in the number of U.S. adults who report symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia during the pandemic, compared with surveys before the pandemic. Some people have increased their use of alcohol or drugs, thinking that can help them cope with their fears about the pandemic. In reality, using these substances can worsen anxiety and depression.

People with substance use disorders, notably those addicted to tobacco or opioids, are likely to have worse outcomes if they get COVID-19. That’s because these addictions can harm lung function and weaken the immune system, causing chronic conditions such as heart disease and lung disease, which increase the risk of serious complications from COVID-19.

For all of these reasons, it’s important to learn self-care strategies and get the care you need to help you cope.

Self-care strategies

Self-care strategies are good for your mental and physical health and can help you take charge of your life. Take care of your body and your mind and connect with others to benefit your mental health.

Take care of your body

Be mindful about your physical health:

  • Get enough sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same times each day. Stick close to your typical sleep-wake schedule, even if you’re staying at home.
  • Participate in regular physical activity. Regular physical activity and exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve mood. Find an activity that includes movement, such as dance or exercise apps. Get outside, such as a nature trail or your own backyard.
  • Eat healthy. Choose a well-balanced diet. Avoid loading up on junk food and refined sugar. Limit caffeine as it can aggravate stress, anxiety and sleep problems.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol and drugs. If you smoke tobacco or if you vape, you’re already at higher risk of lung disease. Because COVID-19 affects the lungs, your risk increases even more. Using alcohol to try to cope can make matters worse and reduce your coping skills. Avoid taking drugs to cope, unless your doctor prescribed medications for you.
  • Limit screen time. Turn off electronic devices for some time each day, including 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. Make a conscious effort to spend less time in front of a screen — television, tablet, computer and phone.
  • Relax and recharge. Set aside time for yourself. Even a few minutes of quiet time can be refreshing and help to settle your mind and reduce anxiety. Many people benefit from practices such as deep breathing, tai chi, yoga, mindfulness or meditation. Soak in a bubble bath, listen to music, or read or listen to a book — whatever helps you relax. Select a technique that works for you and practice it regularly.

Take care of your mind

Reduce stress triggers:

  • Keep your regular routine. Maintaining a regular daily schedule is important to your mental health. In addition to sticking to a regular bedtime routine, keep consistent times for meals, bathing and getting dressed, work or study schedules, and exercise. Also set aside time for activities you enjoy. This predictability can make you feel more in control.
  • Limit exposure to news media. Constant news about COVID-19 from all types of media can heighten fears about the disease. Limit social media that may expose you to rumors and false information. Also limit reading, hearing or watching other news, but keep up to date on national and local recommendations. Look for reliable sources, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Stay busy. Healthy distractions can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression. Enjoy hobbies that you can do at home, such as reading a book, writing in a journal, making a craft, playing games or cooking a new meal. Or identify a new project or clean out that closet you promised you’d get to. Doing something positive to manage anxiety is a healthy coping strategy.
  • Focus on positive thoughts. Choose to focus on the positive things in your life, instead of dwelling on how bad you feel. Consider starting each day by listing things you are thankful for. Maintain a sense of hope, work to accept changes as they occur and try to keep problems in perspective.
  • Use your moral compass or spiritual life for support. If you draw strength from a belief system, it can bring you comfort during difficult and uncertain times.
  • Set priorities. Don’t become overwhelmed by creating a life-changing list of things to achieve while you’re home. Set reasonable goals each day and outline steps you can take to reach those goals. Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small. And recognize that some days will be better than others.

Connect with others

Build support and strengthen relationships:

  • Make connections. If you work remotely from home or you need to isolate yourself from others for a period of time due to COVID-19, avoid social isolation. Find time each day to make virtual connections by email, texts, phone or video chat. If you’re working remotely from home, ask your co-workers how they’re doing and share coping tips. Enjoy virtual socializing and talking to those in your home.If you’re not fully vaccinated, be creative and safe when connecting with others in person, such as going for walks, chatting in the driveway and other outdoor activities, or wearing a mask for indoor activities.If you are fully vaccinated, you can more safely return to many indoor and outdoor activities you may not have been able to do because of the pandemic, such as gathering with friends and family. However, if you are in an area with a high number of new COVID-19 cases in the last week, the CDC recommends wearing a mask indoors in public or outdoors in crowded areas or in close contact with unvaccinated people. For unvaccinated people, outdoor activities that allow plenty of space between you and others pose a lower risk of spread of the COVID-19 virus than indoor activities do.
  • Do something for others. Find purpose in helping the people around you. Helping others is an excellent way to help ourselves. For example, email, text or call to check on your friends, family members and neighbors — especially those who are older. If you know someone who can’t get out, ask if there’s something needed, such as groceries or a prescription picked up.
  • Support a family member or friend. If a family member or friend needs to be quarantined at home or in the hospital due to COVID-19, come up with ways to stay in contact. This could be through electronic devices or the telephone or by sending a note to brighten the day, for example.

Avoid stigma and discrimination

Stigma can make people feel isolated and even abandoned. They may feel depressed, hurt and angry when friends and others in their community avoid them for fear of getting COVID-19.

Stigma harms people’s health and well-being in many ways. Stigmatized groups may often be deprived of the resources they need to care for themselves and their families during a pandemic. And people who are worried about being stigmatized may be less likely to get medical care.

People who have experienced stigma related to COVID-19 include people of Asian descent, health care workers, people with COVID-19 and those released from quarantine. People who are stigmatized may be excluded or shunned, treated differently, denied job and educational opportunities, and be targets of verbal, emotional and physical abuse.

You can reduce stigma by:

  • Getting the facts about COVID-19 from reputable sources such as the CDC and WHO
  • Speaking up if you hear or see inaccurate statements about COVID-19 and certain people or groups
  • Reaching out to people who feel stigmatized
  • Showing support for health care workers

Recognize what’s typical and what’s not

Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life. Everyone reacts differently to difficult situations, and it’s normal to feel stress and worry during a crisis. But multiple challenges, such as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, can push you beyond your ability to cope.

Many people may have mental health concerns, such as symptoms of anxiety and depression during this time. And feelings may change over time.

Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling helpless, sad, angry, irritable, hopeless, anxious or afraid. You may have trouble concentrating on typical tasks, changes in appetite, body aches and pains, or difficulty sleeping or you may struggle to face routine chores.

When these signs and symptoms last for several days in a row, make you miserable and cause problems in your daily life so that you find it hard to carry out normal responsibilities, it’s time to ask for help.

Get help when you need it

Hoping mental health problems such as anxiety or depression will go away on their own can lead to worsening symptoms. If you have concerns or if you experience worsening of mental health symptoms, ask for help when you need it, and be upfront about how you’re doing. To get help you may want to:

Call or use social media to contact a close friend or loved one — even though it may be hard to talk about your feelings.

Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.

Contact your employee assistance program, if your employer has one, and ask for counseling or a referral to a mental health professional.

Call your primary care provider or mental health professional to ask about appointment options to talk about your anxiety or depression and get advice and guidance. Some may provide the option of phone, video or online appointments.

Contact organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the Anxiety and Depression Association of America for help and guidance on information and treatment options.

If you’re feeling suicidal or thinking of hurting yourself, seek help. Contact your primary care provider or a mental health professional. Or call a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use its webchat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.

Continue your self-care strategies

You can expect your current strong feelings to fade when the pandemic is over, but stress won’t disappear from your life when the health crisis of COVID-19 ends. Continue these self-care practices to take care of your mental health and increase your ability to cope with life’s ongoing challenges.

Terrance Hayes

Born in Columbia, South Carolina, Terrance Hayes earned a BA at Coker College and an MFA at the University of Pittsburgh. In his poems, in which he occasionally invents formal constraints, Hayes considers themes of popular culture, race, music, and masculinity. “Hayes’s fourth book puts invincibly restless wordplay at the service of strong emotions: a son’s frustration, a husband’s love, a citizen’s righteous anger and a friend’s erotic jealousy animate these technically astute, even puzzlelike, lines,” observed Stephanie Burt in a 2010 review of Lighthead for the New York Times. In a 2013 interview with Lauren Russell for Hot Metal Bridge, Hayes stated, “I’m chasing a kind of language that can be unburdened by people’s expectations. I think music is the primary model—how close can you get this language to be like music and communicate feeling at the base level in the same way a composition with no words communicates meaning? It might be impossible. Language is always burdened by thought. I’m just trying to get it so it can be like feeling.”
 
Hayes’s poetry collections include American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (2018), finalist for the National Book Award; How to Be Drawn (2015), finalist for the National Book Award and the National Books Critics Circle Award; Lighthead (2010), winner of the National Book Award and finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award; Wind in a Box (2006), finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award; Hip Logic (2002), chosen for the National Poetry Series and finalist for an LA Times Book Award and an Academy of American Poets James Laughlin Award; and Muscular Music (1999), winner of a Kate Tufts Discovery Award. His poems have also been featured in several editions of Best American Poetry and have won multiple Pushcart Prizes. He is also the author of a prose book based on his Bagley Wright lectures: To Float in the Space Between: A Life and Work in Conversation with the Life and Work of Etheridge Knight (Wave Books, 2018), which was winner of the Poetry Foundation’s 2019 Pegasus Award in Poetry Criticism.
 
Hayes’s additional honors include a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has taught at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Pittsburgh. Hayes is currently professor of English at New York University.

Rita Dove

Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, the daughter of one of the first Black chemists in the tire industry. Dove was encouraged to read widely by her parents, and she excelled in school. She was named a Presidential Scholar, one of the top 100 high school graduates in the country, and attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio as a National Merit Scholar. After graduating, Dove received a Fulbright to study at the University of Tübingen in West Germany, and later earned an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she met her husband, the German writer Fred Viebahn. Dove made her formal literary debut in 1980 with the poetry collection The Yellow House on the Corner, which received praise for its sense of history combined with individual detail. The book heralded the start of long and productive career, and it also announced the distinctive style that Dove continues to develop. In works like the verse-novel Thomas and Beulah (1986), which won the Pulitzer Prize, On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Sonata Mulattica (2009), Dove treats historical events with a personal touch, addressing her grandparents’ life and marriage in early 20th-century Ohio, the battles and triumphs of the Civil Rights era, and the forgotten career of Black violinist and friend to Beethoven, George Polgreen Bridgetower. Poet Brenda Shaughnessy noted that “Dove is a master at transforming a public or historic element—re-envisioning a spectacle and unearthing the heartfelt, wildly original private thoughts such historic moments always contain.”

Dove received the 2017 NAACP Image Award and the 2017 Library of Virginia Award for her Collected Poems: 1974-2004 (2016), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her other numerous honors and awards include the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, a Common Wealth Award, and a National Humanities Medal.

Her work is known for its lyricism and beauty as well as its sense of history and political scope. She frequently writes about other art forms, including music in Sonata Mulattica (2009) and dance in the collection American Smooth (2004). Writing in the New York Times, Emily Nussbaum noted how dance and poetry connect for Dove: “For Dove, dance is an implicit parallel to poetry. Each is an expression of grace performed within limits; each an art weighted by history but malleable enough to form something utterly new.” Sonata Mulattica follows the tempestuous life of 18th-century violinist Bridgetower, who took Europe by storm, had a famous sonata composed for him, and died in obscurity. The Los Angeles Times described Dove’s book as an “ambitious effort, using multiple distinctive voices and perspectives to chronicle the complex tale ‘of light and shadow, / what we hear and the silence that follows.’” Poet Mark Doty called the work “richly imagined,” with “the sweep and vivid characters of a novel, but … written with a poet’s economy, an eye for the exact detail.”

In addition to poetry, Dove has published works of fiction, including the short story collection Fifth Sunday (1990) and the novel Through the Ivory Gate (1992). Her play The Darker Face of the Earth (1996) was produced at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Dove is also an acclaimed lyricist, and has written lyrics for composers ranging from Tania León to John Williams. Of her forays into other genres, Dove told Black American Literature Forum, “There’s no reason to subscribe authors to particular genres. I’m a writer, and I write in the form that most suits what I want to say.” Dove’s own work, the popular Thomas and Beulah, was staged as an opera by Museum for Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2001.

Dove has had a tremendous impact on American letters, not only through the scope of her poetry, but also through her work as an advocate. She was named US poet laureate in 1993. Just 40 years old at the time of her appointment, she was the youngest poet ever elected to the position. She was also the first African American to hold this particular title (Gwendolyn Brooks had been named consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985). Dove was also the first poet laureate to see the appointment as a mandate to generate public interest in the literary arts. She traveled widely during her term, giving readings in a variety of venues from schools to hospitals. Dove noted in the Washington Post that her appointment was “significant in terms of the message it sends about the diversity of our culture and our literature.” Dove has continued to play an important role in the reception of American poetry through her work as editor of the Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry (2011). The omnibus collection of a century-worth of American verse stirred controversy and generated new dialogues about the legacy of American poetry, and its current state. Many praised the anthology for its inclusiveness and scope, however. Katha Pollitt in The Nation called it “comprehensive and broad-ranging,” whatever its omissions.

Dove is currently Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

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