Yet Do I Marvel

In 2013, the Poetry Society of America's national series, Yet Do I Marvel: Black Iconic Poets of the 20th Century,  celebrated the work of a wide range of distinguished poets from James Weldon Johnson, Paul Laurence Dunbar,  Sterling Brown,  Countee Cullen, and Langston Hughes to Margaret Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks,  Robert Hayden, June Jordan, Etheridge Knight, and Audre Lorde. Our events took place across the country—in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D. C.—with the culminating celebration held in New York City at Cooper Union's Great Hall. Star Black took the photographs below of that event. Click the images to enlarge.

The rooster of participants: Back row (left to right): Robin Messing, Susan Wheeler, Ross Gay, Cornelius Eady, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Camille Rankine, Paul Romero, Sapphire, Nikky Finney, and Yusef Komunyakaa. Second row (left to right): CK Williams, Toi Derricotte, Gerald Stern, Sharon Olds; Front row (left to right)Ken Chen, Natalie Handel, and Michael Dickman. 

Major Jackson and Ken Chen.

Rowan Ricardo Phillips and Sharon Olds.

Toi Derricotte and Gerald Stern.

Marilyn Nelson reading Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Mark Doty reading Gwendolyn Brooks. 

Yusef Komunyakaa reading Langston Hughes. 

Robin Messing and Cornelius Eady of Rough Magic, performing original songs based on poems by Sterling Brown.

* * *

In addition to these events, the Poetry Society of America asked a group of contemporary African American poets to revise a question posed over a decade ago, at a Poetry Society of America panel featuring Elizabeth Alexander, Cornelius Eady, Tracie Morris, and Harryette Mullen, moderated by Kevin Young: "What's African American about African American Poetry." The earlier conversation was reprinted and can be read in Fence magazine.  The current responses to that question can be read below.