The New Red Negro: The Literary Left and African American Poetry, 1930-1946

Hardcover | February 1, 1999

byJames Edward Smethurst

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The New Red Negro surveys African-American poetry from the onset of the Depression to the early days of the Cold War. It considers the relationship between the thematic and formal choices of African-American poets and organized ideology from the proletarian early 1930s to the neo-modernistlate 1940s. This study examines poetry by writers across the spectrum: canonical, less well-known, and virtually unknown. The ideology of the Communist Left as particularly expressed through cultural institutions of the literary Left significantly influenced the shape of African-American poetry in the 1930s and 40s, as well as the content. One result of this engagement of African-American writers with the organizedLeft was a pronounced tendency to regard the re-created folk or street voice as the authentic voice--and subject--of African-American poetry. Furthermore, a masculinist rhetoric was crucial to the re-creation of this folk voice. This unstable yoking of cultural nationalism, integrationism, and internationalism within a construct of class struggle helped to shape a new relationship of African-American poetry to vernacular African-American culture. This relationship included the representation of African-American workingclass and rural folk life and its cultural products ostensibly from the mass perspective. It also included the dissemination of urban forms of African-American popular culture, often resulting in mixed media high- low hybrids.

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The New Red Negro surveys African-American poetry from the onset of the Depression to the early days of the Cold War. It considers the relationship between the thematic and formal choices of African-American poets and organized ideology from the proletarian early 1930s to the neo-modernistlate 1940s. This study examines poetry by write...

James Edward Smethurst is at University of North Florida.
Format:HardcoverPublished:February 1, 1999Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019512054X

ISBN - 13:9780195120547

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Of the Coming of the New Red Negro1. African-American Poetry, Ideology, and the Left during the 1930s and 1940s from the Third Period to the Popular Front and Beyond2. "The Strong Men Gittin' Stronger": Sterling Brown and the Representation and Re-creation of the Southern Folk Voice3. "Adventures of a Social Poet": Langston Hughes in the 1930s4. "I Am Black and I Have Seen Black Hands": The Narratorial Consciousness and Constructions of the Folk in 1930s African-American Poetry5. Hughes's Shakespeare in Harlem and the Rise of a Popular Neomodernism6. Hysterical Ties: Gwendolyn Brooks and the Rise of a High Neomodernism7. The Popular Front, World War II, and the Rise of Neomodernism in African-American Poetry of the 1940sConclusion: "Sullen Bakeries of Total Recall"NotesWorks ConsultedIndex

Editorial Reviews

"The New Red Negro is a powerful narrative of the evolution of a single genre. It is also a long-overdue truth-telling that documents central links between African-American poetry and the Communist left.... Each aspect of the [book] is carried out with an impressively lucid writing style and ahighly polished means of documentation."--Against the Current