Category Archives: Music

Stuart Hall and vernacular modernity

February 14, 2014 The passing of Stuart Hall makes me go back to his seminal essay, “Negotiating Caribbean Identities,” where he talks about “vernacular modernity” as the “modernity of the blues, of gospel music, of hybrid black music in its … Continue reading

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Banjo: Pete Seeger, Claude McKay

January 29, 2014 Of course he played the guitar as well, maybe even primarily the guitar, but I’ll always think of him with a banjo, that humble instrument brought over by the slaves, its simple form cradled in his, looking … Continue reading

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Passing On: Amiri Baraka, Suzan-Lori Parks, Claudia Rankine

January 22, 2014 James Baldwin probably felt a tinge of jealousy at the sight of Amiri Baraka, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison at his funeral. Thousands of people there, and those three in particular, so eloquent in their tribute, but … Continue reading

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Oscar Hijuelos, The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O’Brien

October 16, 2013 This week saw the passing of Oscar Hijuelos: guitar-playing, cake-loving (I suspect), also lover of bountiful, sometimes over-stuffed prose. His father was the morning-to-lunch shift cook at the Biltmore Hotel, so he definitely knew a thing or … Continue reading

Posted in Caribbean literature, Cities, Contemporary novel, Cuba, Diaspora, Food in literature, Latin America, Latino/a literature, Music | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bono on Seamus Heaney

September 4, 2013 He was there at the funeral, of course, with Adam Clayton, and also wrote this short piece in the Guardian: “Every meeting I’ve ever had since I began full-time advocacy, I have brought with me a book … Continue reading

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March on Washington: unsung

August 28, 2013 No, not literally unsung.   In fact, the most memorable moments at the microphone, other than Martin Luther King’s “I had a Dream” speech,  featured singers: Mahalia Jackson; Marian Anderson; Peter, Paul and Mary; Joan Baez and … Continue reading

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Robert Pinsky, Ginza Samba

July 24, 2013 For years I hadn’t gone much beyond his translation of the Inferno.  I’d noticed a couple of things I didn’t like (might even have gone looking for them), and just stopped there, his own poetry getting all … Continue reading

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Amiri Baraka: jazz side of the brain

July 18, 2013 I’ve always loved this account of jazz from Amiri Baraka: “Jazz enabled separate and valid emotional expressions to be made that were based on older traditions of Afro-American music that were clearly not not a part of … Continue reading

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Langston Hughes’s Children Literature

May 31, 2013 My class, “Regional, National, Global,” has no special focus on children’s literature, but it does seem to come up a lot. I think it’s because of Langston Hughes — the uncertain borders of his poetry, holding a … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, African-American literature, African-American music, Children's literature, Cities, collaboration, Educational institutions, Ethnicity, Experimental poetry, jazz, Modernist poetry, Music, print medium, Twentieth century literature, World history | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michelle Cliff, Adrienne Rich: Animal Sound

April 3, 2013 It’s surprisingly difficult to find a photo of the two of them.   In fact I found only one.   Yet they’ve been together since 1976, a companionship of almost 40 years. Maybe photos aren’t the point? … Continue reading

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