“The poet would not be bought, either by affirmation or exclusion.”

Recalling the Spiritual Vision of Robert Hayden, America’s First Black Poet Laureate – Josef Sorett – Religion & Politics – 5/9/17

“Though his artistic vision squared well with an international vision of human rights that was then emerging in opposition to European fascism and U.S. segregation, Hayden nonetheless declared his opposition to the idea that work by black poets was received, ‘as the custom is, entirely in the light of sociology and politics.’ Additionally, he contended that uncritical celebrations of underdeveloped work by black artists— by a lib­eral, largely white art world— were equally undesirable. He explained further in the Counterpoise introduction that neither ‘a con­science to salve’ nor a political ‘axe to grind’ were due cause for anybody to be ‘overpraised.’ To be clear, Hayden was not suggesting that mainstream presses were indiscriminately underwriting black mediocrity. After all, he would not receive a contract from a commercial publishing house for another two decades. However, those who presided over publication oppor­tunities—’editors, reviewers, anthologists’—were not to be granted the power of life and death over an artist’s vision. Black leaders and the (presumably white) liter­ary establishment were both served notice. The poet would not be bought, either by affirmation or exclusion.”

Frederick Douglass

Robert Hayden

When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful
and terrible thing, needful to man as air,
usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,
when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,
reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more
than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:

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