Contemporary African American women’s sonnet: between tradition and innovation

Яковенко, Ірина Василівна (2021) Contemporary African American women’s sonnet: between tradition and innovation Мова. Література. Фольклор (2). pp. 156-165. ISSN 2414-9594

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The article explores the intersections of the European sonnet tradition and experimentations in the contemporary African American women poets’ cultural production. Through the lens of comparative literary and African American (Classica Africana) studies, Wanda Coleman’s “American Sonnets”, Marilyn Nelson’s crown of sonnets “A Wreath for Emmett Till”, and the sequence of sonnets “Native Guard” by Natasha Trethewey are analyzed as the artistic play with the Elizabethan model and poetic specimens of Afro-modernism. The study outlines the history of the black sonnet from the end of the19th century to the contemporary period, focusing on the features of poetry created by the Harlem Renaissance and Modernist sonneteers. Scholarly works which rethink the literary contribution of African American modernist poets to the genre of the sonnet are abundant, conversely the sonnets of contemporary American poets have not become the object of scientific scrutiny. The aim of this study is to fill in the gaps in the African American studies by focusing on the literary analysis of poetic works by the contemporary women sonneteers – Wanda Coleman, Marilyn Nelson, Natasha Trethewey. In “American Sonnets” and “More American Sonnets”, Wanda Coleman utilizes the vernacular sonnet, combining slang with improvisational poetic techniques, such as asymmetric pauses, irregular meter, lower casing, mixing imagery from pop culture with references to jazz and blues, thus creating ironic sonnets. Marilyn Nelson experiments with the Renaissance crown of sonnets in “A Wreath for Emmett Till” while addressing the issues of racism and lynching in the South. Nelson’s book is characterized by flower and tree symbolism, personifications, religious and literary allusions. Following the African American modernist literary canon, Natasha Trethewey transforms the traditional form infusing blues into sonnets, experimenting with blank verse sonnets, persona poems, and sonnets in forms of journal entries.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: African American poetry; sonnet; Wanda Coleman; Marilyn Nelson; Natasha Trethewey
Subjects: Статті у журналах > Фахові (входять до переліку фахових, затверджений МОН)
Divisions: Факультет романо-германської філології > Кафедра лінгвістики та перекладу
Depositing User: Ірина Василівна Яковенко
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2022 07:27
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2022 07:27

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