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Congo Love SongAfrican American Culture and the Crisis of the Colonial State$
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Ira Dworkin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469632711

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469632711.001.0001

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Another Black Magazine with a Lumumba Poem

Another Black Magazine with a Lumumba Poem

Patrice Lumumba and African American Poetry

(p.224) Chapter 8 Another Black Magazine with a Lumumba Poem
Congo Love Song

Ira Dworkin

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter charts the influence of independent Congo’s first Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba on the poetry and culture of the Black Arts movement. Although Lumumba was assassinated less than seven months after independence, he lives on as an iconic figure in the poetry that emerged during and after the Black Arts movement. Poems like “lumumba LIVES!” by Ted Joans, “Festivals & Funerals” by Jayne Cortez, and “Lumumba Blues” by Raymond Patterson are part of a genre of elegiac meditation on the Congo in post-1960 African American literature that asks how to speak in the face of haunting silences and how to imagine new political possibilities through literary engagements. These writings employ decidedly African American musical conventions to construct an elegiac discourse that ultimately locates the Congo as a central figure in modern African American poetics. These formal dynamics allow for political crises in the Congo and martyred African leaders like Lumumba to be interpellated as American subjects.

Keywords:   Patrice Lumumba, Black Arts movement, Ted Joans, Jayne Cortez, Raymond Patterson, African American poetry and poetics, elegy

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