Harlem Gallery and Other Poems of Melvin B Tolson Free download Ë 104

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Harlem Gallery and Other Poems of Melvin B. Tolson Free download Ë 104 ☆ The poet Melvin B Tolson 1898 1966 was once recognized as one of black America's most important modernist voices Playful fluent and intellectually sophisticated his poems stirred up significant praise and some lively criticism during his The poet Melvin B Tolson 1898 1966 was once recognized as one of black America's most important modernist voices Playful fluent and intellectually sophisticated his poems stirred up significant praise and some lively criticism during his lifetime but have been out of print for decades and essentially left out of the literary canon With the publication of this first complete collection of his work Tolson can finally be given his proper place in American poetryThis volume brings together Tolson's three books of poetry Rendezvous with America 1944 Libretto for the Republic o. review of Melvin B Tolson's Harlem Gallery and Other Poems by tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE February 3 9 2015 For my complete review go here My given last name is Tolson I've never known anyone w the same last name so when I learned of the existence of a writer named Melvin B Tolson several decades ago I was interested What complicated matters was that I'm so called 'white' that MB Tolson's so called 'black' That's fine w me except that I'd read somewhere that slaves took their 'owner''s last names Given that I abhor slavery I had to wonder whether any of my distant relatives had 'owned' any of MB Tolson's not so distant relatives Not a nice thought I was born in BalTimOre Maryland one of the 3 states w slavery that didn't secede from the Union during the American Civil War As I understand it not being very knowledgeable about this history BalTimOre at least was partially kept from seceding by having Union cannons pointed at it from Federal Hill in the Inner Harbor in other words under duress Melvin B Tolson was born in Moberly Missouri spent most of his life in the South Both of us were born after the abolition of slavery in the US MB in 1898 myself in 1953 As such there's even less likelihood of an interconnectedness due to slavery in our 2 immediate families I've never been close to my family I've never had much interest in its genealogy When people ask me what my ancestry is I say I'm from BalTimOre That's good enuf for me All this obsession over wch countries one's ancestors come from interests me not a whit My parents were Republican a sort of missionary streak runs thru my mom sister I'm an anarchist an atheist My family was not what I wd call open minded I'm what I prefer to think of as a free thinker As an adult I've often exaggeratedly joked that leaving 'home' was like being a runaway slave I've joked that if my mother cd've sold me into slavery she wd have I've sd that being raised by her was like being an adopted Jewish child raised by Nazis I'd hear about how loved I was while the feeling was dramatically contradictory My father once told a German girlfriend of mine that the mistake the US made in WWII was to not back Hitler against Stalin That sd neither of my parents were actual Nazis nor were they anti Semites my adopted Jewish child is meant metaphorically I was raised by a matriarchy of my grandmother my mother my sister They had all the authority I had none It wasn't just that I was the youngest it was that I was a male that males were servants only It wasn't that there was a conscious philosophy that men shdn't have any purpose other than servitude for women it was that it was literally inconceivable for it to be otherwise My mother told me recently that her 2nd husband a pretty nice guy knew how to treat a woman because he learned it from his father His father I was told carried around his wife on a silk cushion Total servitude My mom stepdad saw a feral cat going thru their suburban backyard They arduously befriended the cat over a period of perhaps a half yr or so by building it a home giving it food When they finally got it to trust them they took it had it killed As it was explained to me it was much better for the cat to be dead than to be wild That attitude to me is a deeply insane dangerous one That story explains my Jewish child raised by Nazis metaphor well You get the idea Some people like to believe that at least one of their parents was from a different planet than Earth I don't believe that but if I did it might help explain my dad's indifference to his family if my mom had actually been impregnated by an abducting UFO passenger instead of by him I'm just glad that I had the strength of character to develop in accordance w my own intuitive nature otherwise I'd be a suare watermelon grown in a box W all this background I've never had any desire to associate w a 'family' of any kind I'm much comfortable as a lone wolf I don't want forced associations based on blood lineages I prefer to associate w people that I actually have things in common w THEN I finally read this bk by Melvin B Tolson for the 1st time in my life I actually deeply identified w the intelligence of someone who shared my given last name I decided to finally investigate the name a little 1st I wanted to learn whether the story of slaves taking 'master''s names is historically accurate That took me here The myth of the 'master's name' It is commonly believed that most slaves took their masters' surnames upon emancipation In fact many African American genealogy classes inform their students that this should be the first place to look when trying to identify their ancestors' owners Students are told to look for white families nearby bearing the same surnameThe truth of this belief however does not stand up to scrutiny Among the 6319 legible names of slaves recorded in the Slave Statistics of Prince George's County Maryland the originals of which are held at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis only twenty six 26 freedmen and women maintained the same surname as their most recent owner This amounts to just 041% of the slaves held at the time of their final emancipation Now I don't necessarily trust sources unless I'm deeply aware of their history find it to have integrity I know nothing about the source of the above uote For all I know they're trying to whitewash their own history But provisionally I'll accept it as accurate move on Then I looked at Tolson specifically 1st there's a Tolson Facebook page w close to no activity Tolson is not a very common last name and there is not much genealogy information about the Tolson surname so we created Tolsonorg as a way to help find other Tolson Family members Then there's a genealogy site that provides thisContemporary Notables of the name Tolson Clyde Anderson Tolson 1900 1975 American associate director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Joe Pat Tolson American Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly Melvin Beaunorus Tolson American Modernist poet educator columnist and politician Randall Tolson American memorial clockmaker who lived in Cold Spring Harbor New York Edgar Tolson 1904 1984 American woodcarver and well known folk artist Max Tolson b 1945 Australian former footballer Dickon Tolson British actor What interests me about that entry is that both Clyde Tolson J Edgar Hoover's partner MB are in among the notables there's no race distinction made I'm glad of the absence of race distinction but it seems so out of character in this race obsessed society In 1983 when I was arrested for my Poop Pee Dog Copyright Violation Ceremony John Waters told me that people reading the newspaper stories about it wd think I was black so apparently he at least thought of Tolson as a name common among blacks or maybe he meant that 'white' readers wd just think that such outrageous conduct was something that 'only a 'black' person wd do' Here's a little basic bio about Melvin B Tolson Melvin B Tolson was born in Moberly Missouri on February 6 1898 and he died at the age of 67 on August 29 1966 in Dallas Texas a few days after undergoing surgery for cancer In 1922 he married Ruth Southall and in 1924 he graduated with honors from Lincoln University From 1924 until 1947 he taught at Wiley College in Marshall Texas taking a year's leave in 1930 31 to pursue work in a Master's degree from Columbia University His project for a thesis centered on interviewing members of the Harlem Renaissance From 1947 onward he taught at Langston University in Langston Oklahoma where he also served three terms from 1954 to 1960 as Mayor Department of English University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign's MAPS Modern American Poetry Site website There are obviously many ideas about what poetry 'shd' do One of these ideas is that poetry 'shd' or maybe just typically does condense content in a highly allusive way Tolson fits this bill The work is SO DENSE w meaning as if Tolson's trying to cram every powerful archetype he's ever encountered into a small space that then still becomes epic anyway I love it This edition is published by the University Press of Virginia I'm impressed I'm IMPRESSED The scholarship here is profound Are all editions of his work this good That seems unlikely This is academia at its best an academia that seems all too often to be a hollow sham is here a rock solid fundament for deep learning The end notes that provide explication for Harlem Gallery are so damned informative that for someone like me it's practically paradise they're not even credited I presume they're provided by the editor Raymond Nelson as culled by his own research into the annotations of others In his Editorial Statement he concludes w Harlem Gallery is another kettle of fish Our decision to provide extensive apparatus for it reflects not only a judgment that a reader would welcome such assistance but a judgment as well about its priority among Tolson's works Of all the achievements of a distinguished career Harlem Gallery seems the one most likely to find a place in humanity's great anthology The need for an annotated edition of it was among the first motives that led to the collection presented here One of the lessons Harlem Gallery teaches is about the responsibility of curators critics scholars and other subalterns of art to facilitate and clarify An editor should recognize an opening when he sees one p XXVIII In fact my 1st note to myself as to what to refer to in this bk is to the introductory notes to Harlem Gallery Michael Berube's Marginal ForcesCultural Centers 1992 which considers Tolson in tandem with Thomas Pynchon is the most sophisticated literary discussion of Tolson that has yet appeared p 368 Tolson in tandem with Thomas Pynchon Another one of my favorite writers That I've got to read In fact to put my money where my mouth is I just ordered it thru hardcover w shipping for 598 It must be good or it wdn't be selling that cheap A recurrent theme in my life is that almost anything that I find truly interesting is of almost no value at all to most other people From Rita Dove's Introduction I will visit a land unvisited by Mr Eliot With this self confident boast Melvin B Tolson throws down his glove before the pantheon of Modern Poetry Like many of his public utterances this sentence scribbled in a notebook bristles with half tones and uarter tones Is Tolson merely staking out his particular poetic territory and in effect confirming the southern poet critic Allen Tate's smug pronouncement that the distinguishing Negro uality is not in language but in the subject matter which is usually the plight of the Negro segregated in a White culture in other words stick to your side of the tracks and we'll stick to ours Or is he challenging T S Eliot claiming a larger vision than that of the Disgruntled Modernists; could he find a way of reclaiming the wasteland of postwar disillusionment without turning to religion or to other heavily structured systems of thought as Eliot Pound Yeats and some of their lesser Anglo Saxon contemporaries did And what of the exuisitely formal address is Mr Eliot an expression of respect distance or irony With Tolson one can safely say all of the above A glance at nearly any passage from the poems reprinted here will confirm that one is in the presence of a brilliantly eclectic mind determined not to hide its light under a bushel In an interview the year before his death in 1966 Tolson stated; I as a black poet have absorbed the Great Ideas of the Great White World and interpreted them in the melting pot idiom of my people My roots are in Africa Europe and America pp XI XII deep are those roots As my friend the Reverend Ivan Stang might say Don't just eat that burger eat the HELL OUT OF IT I cdn't say it better Tolson has taken nourishment from the melting pot of his roots into the human encyclopedia of the melting pot of his being he's done a damned good job of it In 1947 Tolson was appointed Poet Laureate of Liberia p xvi Just imagine that Who's the current United States Poet Laureate The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress commonly referred to as the United States Poet Laureate serves as the nation's official poet During his or her term the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry Currently the laureate receives a 35000 annual stipend That's got to make it one of the lowest pd honors in this country Anyway the current USPL is a man named Charles Wright I don't think I've ever read his work On the official government website for such things it's written that For almost 50 years his poems have reckoned with what he calls language landscape and the idea of God Right God Anybody remember the separation of Church State If this were an Islamic country the Poet Laureate if there were one wd have to be a mouthpiece for Allah Why are the Christians Moslems perpetually at war After all they're practically identical in some ways Bc it helps their respective ruling elites keep their own peoples at bay Strangely the author of this bk's introduction Rita Dove has also been one of the US Poet LaureatesAs a book Libretto for the Republic of Liberia finally appeared in 1953 under the imprint of Twayne Publishers In his foreword Allen Tate accurately describes the conundrum of Tolson's achievement Here is something marvellous indeed A small African republic founded by liberated slaves celebrates its centenary by getting an American negro poet to write what in the end is an English Pindaric ode in a style derived from but by no means imitative of one of the most difficult modern poets p XVII When Tolson published part 1 of his projected epic poem Harlem Gallery in 1965 critical response was immediate and controversial Whereas many mainstream literati were enthusiastic proclaiming Tolson's piece as the lyrical successor to The Waste Land The Bridge and Paterson proponents of the rapidly solidifying Black Aethetic were less than impressed to say the least Part of the controversy was sparked by Karl Shapiro's well meaning foreword Tolson writes and thinks in Negro Shapiro announced prompting poet and essayist Sarah Webster Fabio to remark Melvin Tolson's language is most certainly not 'Negro' to any significant degree The weight of that vast bizarre pseudo literary diction is to be placed back into the American mainstream where it rightfully and wrong mindedly belongs p XVIII pseudo literary diction belonging in the American mainstream Them's fightin' words Now the above criticism is specifically re Harlem Gallery so maybe it's not fair to uote from Rendezvous with America in Tolson's defense but how cd anyone attack Tolson thusly after he'd written this They tell us to forget Democracy is spurned They tell us to forget The Bill of Rights is burned Three hundred years we slaved We slave and suffer yet; Thought flesh and bone rebel They tell us to forget Rendezvous with America pp 38 39 The New Negro strides upon the continent in seven league boots The New Negro Who sprang from the vigor stout loins Of Nat Turner gallows martyr for Freedom Of Joseph Cinuez Black Moses of the Amistad Mutiny Of Frederick Douglass oracle of the Catholic Man Of Sojourner Truth eye and ear of Lincoln's legions Of Harriet Tubman Saint Bernard of the Underground Railroad Rendezvous with America p 39 Black Crispus Attucks taught Us how to die Before white Patrick Henry's bugle breath Uttered the vertical Transmitting cry Yea give me liberty or give me death Rendezvous with America p 37 Shapiro describes Gallery as a narrative work so fantastically stylized that the mind balks at comparisons Divided into twenty four sections corresponding to the letters of the Greek alphabet Harlem Gallery contains allusions to Vedic gods Tintoretto and Minyan pottery as well as snippets in Latin and French No wonder many of his black contemporaries thought he was showing off p XVIII why shdn't he have such broadallusions Tolson's not showing off he's being an anti racist internationalist something that's pretty obvious in most of the work presented in this bk He has too broad a mind to willingly cage it in the myopia of other people's agendas To be sure the timing was bad for such a complex piece The Civil Rights movement was at its peak and black consciousness had permeated every aspect of Afro American life including its literature Black writers rejected white literary standards proclaiming a black aesthetic that was distinctly oral where poems and fiction used the language patterns and vocabulary of the street to arouse feelings of solidarity and pride among Afro Americans p XVIII that's all well good BUT the written word is not the same as the oral one so why shd it simulate it That's like driving a car as if it were a bicycle by pumping the gas letting up on it all you get is a jerky ride wo any of the ualities of either mode of transport Back to Nelson's Editorial Statement This edition of the poetry of Melvin B Tolson collects the three books he published in his lifetime Rendezvous with America 1944 Libretto for the Republic of Liberia 1953 and Harlem Gallery 1965 and five fugitive poems African China A Long Head to a Round Head The Man from Halicarnassus E O E and Abraham Lincoln of Rock Spring Farm which were for the most part written and published during the interim between Rendezvous and Libretto We have not attempted to collect fugitive poems written or published prior to 1944 on the principle that Tolson himself made the decision to exclude them from Rendezvous so that our edition consists of the early poetry gathered in that volume and all subseuent poetry that Tolson saw through publication Our purpose has been rather to make Tolson's important work available than to be exhaustive or definitive p XXVII

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Nd mesmerizing imagery have won Tolson a growing number of enthusiastic admirers who place him alongside such legendary black poets as Langston Hughes Gwendolyn Brooks and Robert HaydenWhile his peers Hughes and Countee Cullen were part of the Harlem Renaissance Melvin B Tolson was not identified with any particular movement and his legacy in American literature has been elusive This book enhanced by a moving introduction by Rita Dove and useful notes by editor Raymond Nelson provides the text for a renewed appreciation of one of the great talents in AfricanAmerican poetr. This was a difficult read but well worth the time and effort

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Harlem Gallery and Other Poems of Melvin B TolsonF Liberia 1953 and Harlem Gallery 1965 as well as fugitive poems after 1944 His work has at times been controversial because of his historical intellectual subject matter and his commitment to the priorities of art rather than the imperatives of politics However a fresh reading of his challenging masterpiece Harlem Gallery a poem in 24 cantos reveals an urgent meditation on the plight of the black artist in a white society and a concern with social justice that locates Tolson in the mainstream of African American writing Such powerful themes as well as his range of tone a. Melvin Tolson 1898 1966 was the real life scholar portrayed by Denzel Washington in the film The Great Debaters Tolson not only inspired the unknown African American debate team to beat national champions University of Southern California the movie changed SC to Harvard for effect but he was also Poet Laureate of Liberia and way ahead of his time in his sophisticated and fluent poetry about the black experience His poems are sometimes funny always engaging and help me understand the culture of my African American neighbors