892 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2020
    1. Light

      "Light" is a preface to Madgett's extended metaphor of sunlight and darkness to represent the roles of men and women.

    1. miracle

      a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.

    2. Harvest of love

      Refers back to the "horizontal harvest" in the beginning of the poem

    3. gourd opulent dark pump- Kin belly

      The enjambment of pump-Kin emphasizes the sexual connotation of pump and the family aspect of kin

    4. moon tide stops

      Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun, and the rotation of the Earth. The cycle of the moon also has connotations of menstruation, which, if stopped, implies that the woman is pregnant. This phrase may also suggest that the world the speaker is living in has stopped spinning at this moment while womb waves are seen inside the woman.

    5. Fire yellow white hot maggots seemin more than semen Sperm jellied germ of god the rich pudding of love tiring Tadpole Couriers of destiny coursing toward the heaven halo Aborrea

      Here, the poem seems to shift from depicting sex as something merely sweet and pleasurable to being the cause of fertilization, creation, evolution.

    6. Fire yellow white hot maggots seemin more than semen Sperm jellied germ of god the rich pudding of love tiring Tadpole Couriers of destiny coursing toward the heaven halo Aborrea Of egg sun like yolk wonder deep in the night time of Belly love

      The speaker seems to be realizing that sex is about more than pleasure: rather, it has the ability (or power) to create life

    7. our now we love now we love now my love now my Love now my love Love me now my love my love My Love NOW!!

      Emphasis and repetition of living in the now and not worrying about future consequences

    8. coconut tits raising cane Sugar

      Cane and sweets are repeatedly associated with sexuality

    9. bellies rapid clapping rhapsody

      Rhapsody: an effusively enthusiastic or ecstatic expression of feeling. Bellies clapping may suggest sexual "expression of feeling"

    10. black aesthetic

      A term coined by Larry Neal in 1968, the "Black aesthetic" is a concept central to the Black Arts Movement and the Black Power movement. Neal and his contemporaries called for a rejection of the "Western" aesthetic and the development of a completely new mode of art and creation, as "it is impossible to construct anything meaningful within [the Western aesthetic's] decaying structure" (Neal, "The Black Arts Movement, from The Drama Review, Summer 1968).

    1. Robert Hayden

      African American Poet who served as a consultant in Poetry in the Library of Congress. He was the first African American to hold this position. Ellis favored Hayden’s work because he was different than a lot of poets at the time and Ellis admired that.

    2. Paul Laurence Dunbar

      Born on June 27th 1872. He was one of the most influential Black poets in early American literature.

    1. saved by stream

      Bodies of water were a common route used by slaves to take the path the freedom

    2. six troubles

      Refers to bible verse Job 5:19 where God has delivers from six troubles and does not allow a seventh evil trouble to interfere.

    3. Moses

      Harriet Tubman was first called Moses by fellow abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, due to her efforts to lead the slaves to freedom, as Moses attempted to lead the Jews away from enslavement.

  2. Dec 2019
    1. blue line

      We finish with the same color we started with, a blue, showing Lane's appreciation for the natural world. This also references a moment Lane talks about in “‘Pulling in the Natural Environment’: An Interview with Pinkie Gordon Lane” by John Lowe, in which her son asked her for binoculars in order to see the equator.

    1. near Congress, On Capitol Hill, take the 30 bus, Get off before it reaches Anacostia, Don’t cross the bridge into Southeast.

      Anacostia this is a high-crime neighborhood in Washington D.C. The overall crime rate is higher than the national average. In the poem Ellis describes how they were told to avoid Southeast DC because it is not a safe area.

    1. Holding her head with both hands around the implosion

      Another example of the young woman reacting to the grief

    1. When “for their thousand blows” return a thousand ten

      Here, Evans is referencing Claude McKay’s poem "If We Must Die." Similar to McKay’s poem, Mari Evans is using this stanza as a call-to-arms of sorts, insinuating that complacence is harmful and action must be taken to enact change.

    1. sacrificial

      Sacrificing both goods, animals, and people was once common practice in many religions, like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. The practice involves destroying the item, or killing the person or animal for forgiveness or blessings from a spiritual being.

    2. shanks

      The word "shank" has multiple definitions. Typically it either refers to a makeshift knife/ sharp weapon, or a meat shank, which is the portion of meat around the lower leg of the animal.

    3. Chicago

      Chicago was Gwendoyn Brooks's hometown, and it was also a central location in the meat-packing industry, which is referenced throughout the poem. Many African Americans found work in the meat-packing industry after the Great Migration, which was when many black Americans moved out of the South in pursuit of better work and social treatment in the North. These goals were not entirely met, as the meat factories that employed many African Americans had notoriously terrible working conditions. According to Upton Sinclair’s exposé "The Jungle," workers were often seriously injured, exposed to diseases from the meat, worked long hours, and were paid very low wages.

    1. and I have not loved. always

      The phrase “I have not loved always” is broken up into two lines, emphasizing the journey that they speaker has taken to be able to love. When a reader sees the first line “I have not loved, “ the poem takes on a suddenly negative tone, but the next line saves the intention of the poem by clarifying with “always.” These lines also seem to portray a shift in the poem. The speaker appears to change from talking about her own experiences to adopting all of the experiences and tribulations of her ancestors.

    2. i have walked a long time

      This line could relate to another Sonia Sanchez poem called "Poem at Thirty," in which the speaker claims that she is constantly traveling and moving.

    1. Lump velvet little wild rabbit

      The rabbit is a symbol of prosperity, abundance, and fertility. The rabbit symbolism of longevity is very true because of its ability to reproduce and build ancestry.

    2. to ex- Quisite Profanity

      'to' shows that the 'organic sacristy abode' is being a home to an "exquisite profanity." Separation of exquisite may suggest the strange division and unity of exquisite (extremely beautiful and, typically, delicate) and profanity (blasphemous or obscene language)

    3. love tuning

      Tune or tuning has slang definitions of to flirt

    4. Pepper pot

      An assertive person who shares opinions or acts in ways that are stronger than the extant social power structure might predict. Especially of a woman, since men often wrongly expect women to be weak, acquiescent, or void of certain types of knowledge.

    5. peach brandy

      "The presence of the peach in folklore, literature, religion, paintings, embroidery, and in the affection of the people signifies luck, abundance, and protection." The fruit is believed to offer immortality or at least reaching very old age. This may suggest the idea of invisibility when you're young and drunk. (Jacqueline M. Newman, Flavor&Fortune - peach meaning in folklore and literature)

    1. Negritude

      "Negritude" refers to a movement that was founded in the 1930s by thinkers, writers, and activists such as Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Léon Damas. Negritude condemned colonialism and sought to cultivate "Black consciousness."

    2. Eternity!

      The poem is dedicated to Sonny Blount, who believed in eternal being.

    3. Larry Neal, Henry Dumas

      Two outstanding African American visionary epic poets, leaders in the 1960’s Black Arts cultural era. (Annotated by Touré)

    4. Bennu

      The original divine bird, which served as an archetype for he later Greek bird, the phoenix. (Annotated by Touré)

    5. Isis

      Greek for Auset. The Nile Valley Civilization’s Great Mother, “Queen of Heaven,” “Throne of Kemer,” the queen and co-ruler with King Asar (Osiris, Greek). Humanity’s archetypal Back Madonna. (Annotated by Touré)

    6. Tehuti

      The Kemetic neter who symbolized knowledge, ancient wisdom, mystery, measurement of the heavens, phases of the moon. (Annotated by Touré)

    7. Orishas

      Divine Beings of the West African Yorubax, paralleling the Kemetic neters and the Christian/Hebrew/Muslim angels.

      (Annotated by Touré)

    8. Kamities

      From Kamit ot Kemet (meaning the Black Land). The Kamites were the black people of the Black Land.

      (Annotated by Touré)

    9. Uraeus

      a representation of a sacred serpent as an emblem of supreme power, worn on the headdresses of ancient Egyptian deities and sovereigns.

      (Annotated by Touré)

    10. Mystic

      "A person who seeks having a spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence"

      (Merriam Webster)

    11. epiphany

      Derived from the Greek word epiphaneia, epiphany means “appearance,” or “manifestation.” In literary terms, an epiphany is that moment where a someone achieves realization, awareness, or a feeling of knowledge, after which events are seen through the prism of this new light

    12. Sassy Vaughn

      Sarah Lois Vaughan was an American jazz singer. Nicknamed "Sassy" and "The Divine One"

    13. Billie Holiday face

      African American Jazz singer

    14. Marcus Garvey

      a Jamaican political activist, publisher, and journalist. He started the "Back to Africa" movement which advocated the separation of the blacks and whites.

    15. Zulu legions

      A member of a South African people traditionally living mainly in KwaZulu-Natal province. "The Zulus formed a powerful military empire in southern Africa during the 19th century before being defeated in a series of engagements with Afrikaner and British settlers" (editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica) which may explain why they are descried as “shaking the earth.”

    16. solar obelisk of myth

      "At a point in his life, Sun Ra began to turn to ancient Egypt and Ethiopia for his spiritual out-look and sartorial style" (Encyclopaedia Britannica). Thus, Egyptian references are made in the poem. Egypt may also represent the start of civilization.

    17. Bird Diz Miles

      They are both influential jazz musicians. The fact that all the names are untied as one may suggest they are similar to the magical idea of "alchemical" mentioned earlier in the poem

    18. Shango’s

      West African, Yoruba orisha symbolizing kingship, whose sacred presence was embodied in thunder and lightning bolts. (Annotated by Touré)

    19. Sonny Blount. May 22, 1914 to May 30th, 1993

      Sonny Blount, later changed his name to Le Sony'r Ra was alive from May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993. He was a well known American jazz composer and poet. He was known for his experimental music philosophies.

    20. aural magic

      Aural - relating to the ear or the sense of hearing.

    21. Jupiterian wisdom

      a person that has a well-developed Mount of Jupiter (located on the palm of the hand at the base of the index finger. It has a connection to the Greek God, Zeus, who became Jupiter in Roman mythology) and a long and large finger of Jupiter and that is usually held by palmists to be characterized by ambition, leadership, and a religious nature

      (Definition of Jupiterian- Merriam Webster)

    1. Lungs

      In her audio video from the Furious Flower Conference in 1994, Adisa Vera Beatty states that her poem is about a rumor that "The Duke” received Nat King Cole’s lungs. It may suggest how Nat died and the Duke survived because the hospital prioritized the Duke because he was white and they let him survive with the lungs of Nat King Cole.

    2. Nat entered at the hospital’s Negro entrance, and the “Duke” on the White side

      The separate entrances shows a form of segregation that took place from 1896 to 1954. White and Black people had separate entrances, exits, water fountains, schools,etc. This goes for hospital entrances as well. The white areas had better doctors and equipment, better maintenance, unlike African American areas that were assigned to them.

    3. the Negro with the golden feathery light voice, tinged with raspiness

      The “Negro” is referring Nat King Cole, who was a well-known American Jazz pianist and vocalist during the “swing era.” He was also the first African American to have his own night show, called “The Nat King Cole Show”

    4. “Duke’s”

      Wayne, or "Duke," was an actor, producer, director, and racist. In a 1974 Playboy interview, he stated that he believed in white supremacy and viewed “blacks” as "irresponsible" and "uneducated".

    5. Nat’s

      Referring to Nat King Cole, American jazz singer and pianist, 1919-1965.

    6. cancer,

      The "Duke" is a nickname for John Wayne, American actor, 1907- 1979. Wayne was diagnosed with gastric cancer and Nat King Cole was diagnosed with lung cancer.

  3. Nov 2019
    1. still in motion

      the woman, though captured in the picture, represents an ethos of Blackness and perseverance that prevails against the onslaught of time.

    2. Even now

      Trethewey again resists the linear nature of history, evoking the "now" to emphasize the lingering presence of the past.

    3. One woman pauses for the picture. The other won't be still.

      the past resists efforts to capture or frame it -- even a photograph that preserves a fixed moment cannot hold both women still.

    4. greens and yams

      culturally significant food to Black people, greens and yams juxtapose the "buckets of peas for shelling," correlating Blackness and labor.

    5. sagged

      diction that reinforces the idea of the mundane.

    6. their dailiness

      "dailiness," may imply insignificance and mundanity or diligence and dignity -- depending on the perspective of the individual who frames the photograph (frames the narrative of history).

    7. if I could touch

      Trethewey emphasizes the substance lost through not being able to interact with the women -- it is significant to note that the photographer is a white man. What also might be lost by the gaze being aligned with the white, male perspective?

    8. relief

      "relief" refers to the physical texture of the women's faces but could possibly refer to an emotional or mental relief (either from pausing working or another reason).

    9. texture

      a photograph has no physical "texture," unlike the pictured women whose depth and personhood cannot necessarily be captured in film.

    10. two women

      the "two women" may be representative of Trethewey and her late mother, a significant figure in many of her poems.

    11. foreground

      Trethewey places the two women in the foreground of both the photograph and the poem, possibly to subvert the cultural dismissal of the women's "dailiness."

    12. Clifton Johnson

      Clifton Johnson was an American author, illustrator, and photographer. "Johnson viewed photography in similar terms to painting and composed his photographs in that fashion. He stated that he selected subjects in the same fashion as he would for paintings and posed them in a way that represent 'naturalness of life as I see it.'" #Photography )

    1. Baby brother's named for two fathers, and each Saturday he seeks them in this neutral zone of brotherhood,

      Strange evokes themes of Christianity with "two fathers" and parodies congregation on the holy day with "each Saturday" spent at the barbershop. Similarly, the emphasis on "brotherhood," reiterates the sense of masculine connection valued during the time.

    2. cappin' players, men-of-words, Greek chorus to the comic-tragic fanfare

      Strange uses images of classic Western culture -- "players, men-of-words, Greek chorus" -- to equate a traditionally valued forum for exchanges of ideas with an intellectual space undervalued by mainstream culture.

    3. the counseling of older dudes

      Strange is trying to undercut stereotypes that devalue the real education and guidance and rhetorical analysis that occurs in these traditionally Black spaces.

    4. the closest semblance of a throne he'll ever know

      this line both honors the boy who will never know the full acceptance of genuine praises of mainstream culture, and evokes a sense of the Black masculinity that was so significant during the rise of the Black power movement.

    5. he might gain the title "Man of the House" before his time.

      the proper title given to the position tragically received "before his time" punctuates the sad and unnecessary violence that happens around young Black boys.

    6. street battles to claim turf

      Strange acknowledges gang violence with sardonically lofty titles like, "battles" and "claim turf," to later subvert it by capitalizing the title "'Man of the House.'"

    7. obligatory heists of candy & comic books

      Strange evokes a sense of the social pressures and factors that result in "obligatory heists," or shoplifting incidences.

    8. Baby brother can't wait. For him, the rite of passage begins early

      Strange begins the poem by immediately dismissing any notions that there's anything trivial or vapid about Black traditions.

    9. Barbershop Ritual

      "Ritual" implies a long history and lends a sense of dignity to the ties between Blackness and the "Barbershop."

    1. you, man, will you remember me when I die? will you stare and stain my death and say i saw her applauden suns far from the grandiose audience? you, man, will you remember and cry?

      The speaker ends with the same italicized question that she posed near the beginning of the poem, asking if they will remember her showing appreciation for nature, but without an engaged or impressive audience. The speaker seems equate their life with their ancestors’ lives for some of the poem, but then time splits at the end and the speaker is back to the reality of being more carefree and privileged, but on the outskirts of people’s minds and out of the spotlight. The speaker seems to feel a sense of inadequacy and compared to her ancestors' experiences. She appears to be seeking audience approval and confirmation that she will be remembered and admired for her actions as well.

    2. converges

      The speaker claims that time splits, sending the speaker on a different path than the ones that they have been describing. The speaker seems to feel as if they were separated from the experiences of their ancestors that she just finished describing.

    3. rattle of my seed,

      This could be a reference to growing and planting crops, which black people were forced to do within slavery, but it could also refer to offspring as the seed. This could be referencing the suffering that black children had to inherit for their race.

    4. i have walked by memory of others

      The speaker claims that many of the actions of black people are viewed and interpreted through the memories of other people. This line appears to reflect a tradition in black poetry, especially the Black Arts Movement, in which poets felt as if their experience was interpreted by others, especially white writers.

    5. wid mouths discarden the gelatin

      The speaker speakers in a dialect by saying “wid” instead of “with.” These three lines seemingly describe a purification process, with the speaker releasing the tension from being pirated, which may be a reference to ancestors being kidnapped from Africa and discarding gelatin from their mouth.

    6. piracy

      Piracy is the practice of robbing or stealing, typically in a violent manner. The practice of piracy is easily related to the kidnapping of Africans to be enslaved in the Americas.

    7. the unconscious unbridles feasts the flesh knots toward the shore

      The speaker also seems to assert that the soul controls the body, by saying that unconscious desires are “unbridled” or unrestrained, and control the “flesh knots,” or body of a person. The assertion that the body’s action impact the soul, but the unconscious, spiritual part of a person controls the body creates a cyclical claim about life experiences.

    8. soul catalogues each step

      The speaker seems to assert that every action someone takes has an impact on their mental state.

    9. you, man, will you remember and cry?

      The italics in this stanza suggest either a second stanza or an emphasis or shift in audience. The speaker seems to be addressing the reader more directly and asking if they will remember and miss her, even though she lived a more sheltered life.

    10. swallows

      Swallows are a type of small bird and are usually used to symbolize joy and hope. The use of these birds in the poem may suggest the extent of protection that the speaker feels as if she experiences, especially when it is paired with the idea of dancing far away from the world's problems.

    11. wite

      Wite” is seen as a misspelling of “white,” which could be the speaker not wanting so use the actual color name, since it is racially charged. However, “wite” is also a more outdated word to describe guilt, blaming, or accusing. This use of the word may relate to the speaker's guilt or fear about her own experience being unimpressive.

    12. bringen

      The speaker uses what could be considered an accent or a dialect, primarily on words that end in “ing.” The speaker replaces the “ing” ending with “en,” which makes the word bringing sound like bringin’, for example.

    13. alien life

      "Alien” is usually used to refer to a foreigner that is not a naturalized citizen in the country in which they reside. The poem seems to be using this phrase to refer to a person that feels like an outsider in their own life experience. As the poem continues, the speaker appears to feel as if their own experience is inferior to that her black ancestors'.

    14. innuendos

      An illusive remark that is typically suggestive in nature.

    1. chrome key,

      Used to tighten drums, further emphasizing the musicality of the poem—Ellis emphasizing his need for music rather than sports like his father.

    2. My first attempts were filled with noise, Wild solos, violent uncontrollable blows

      Even though Ellis is using words that describe a physical altercation, he is using them to depict how he feels when he writes. It is not physical violence, but it creates a powerfulness through words instead of violence.

    3. Wham! Bam!

      Use of onomatopoeia—formation of a word from a sound association. The words 'wham' and 'bam' depicts sounds of violence.

    4. T.S. Eliot

      He was a popular White literary figure that a lot of other literary writers looked up to. Looking again at the first two lines on this stanza, the questioning by the substitute teacher relates to the preconceived judgement of Ellis by the substitute.

    5. A white substitute teacher At an all-Black public high school

      The significance of mentioning the different race ratios within the high school is that it introduces the notion of race inequality. It also suggests that this substitute teacher has a preconceived opinion on Ellis because he is African American.

    1. bores into the depths of my mind

      This line shows that the poem has spread all the way to the speaker, overwhelming their mind.

    2. Girl at the Window

      Girl at the Window is also the name of Lane’s 1991 poetry collection.

    1. She like love: the agony and the bone

      The poem addresses the subject of the poem again by comparing her to love, but also stating that she faces agony and death. This seems to relate to Gwendolyn Brooks's work having a positive, hopeful impact on black communities that were experiencing pain and exploitation, like the black meat-packing community that is referenced in the poem. While Brooks's words do not solve the corruption and power imbalances that the black urban community faces, they do provide a message of love and understanding.

    2. mayors

      “Meats for mayors” depicts the idea that extreme pain and suffering is being endured by both black workers and the animals so that wealthy, predominately white people can enjoy the delicacy of meat. The line seems to carry a sarcastic tone, as if to ask whether the passive enjoyment of an item like meat is worth the suffering that occurs to produce it.

    3. bleats

      “Bleats” is typically associated with lambs, which were often used in sacrifices because of their pure and innocent connotation. In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God, because He lived a completely sinless life but still sacrificed for the greater Christian good. The speaker of the poem seems to be using the bleats as both reference to the slaughtering occurring at the meat factory, and the pain endured by the black workers both in the factory and in their communities. The reference to lambs suggests that innocence is being destroyed.

    4. weening

      “Weaning” as it is typically spelled references the process of slowly getting accustomed to life without something that a person was dependent on, like a baby off of milk or a patient off of medicine. However, the poem spells the word as “weening” which is a word that is not commonly used in modern language, but it means to think or have and opinion. These two definitions of similar words work together to depict the idea of both infancy and thinking, simultaneously occurring in the corruption of the streets.

    5. raw, the freshly killed alone

      This line references the process of producing meat again through language like “raw” and “fresh.” The speaker of the poem seems to be conflating the process of killing animals to create meat for consumption to the experience of lower socioeconomic black people.

    6. a phrase of her like stitching wounds can make;

      This line suggests that the subject of the poem, which was previously established to be Gwendolyn Brooks, can provide healing and repair to the community with her words or phrases. This line references the fact that Brooks wrote about black urban struggles in her writing. Her first poetry volume A Street in Bronzeville portrayed the reality of the poor living and social conditions that the black community faced. Brooks's acknowledgement of these conditions seem to have made the community feel seen, while also functioning to challenge existing oppression.

    7. shanty towns

      Shanty towns refer to the dilapidated settlements that are typically on the outskirts of a town. Many African Americans in urban areas found themselves living in shanty towns, and workers in the meat-packing factories likely would have lived in such establishments.

    8. Lazaruses

      A reference to a biblical story in which Jesus brought a dead man named Lazarus that had been buried in a tomb for four days back to life. This miracle caused many people in the Bible to acknowledge Jesus as Christ.

    9. fasted days

      "Fasted days" refers to a typically religious practice of abstaining from food and/or drink for a certain period of time. The practice is thought to increase self-control, bodily autonomy, and relationship with a higher power.

    10. lake

      Since the poem references Chicago, the lake is most likely Lake Michigan, since the shore of Lake Michigan borders Chicago.

    11. The Agony and the Bone

      Dolores Kendrick dedicated this poem to Gwendolyn Brooks, who was one of the most influential African American poets in the 20th century. The title appears to reference a well-known Brooks quote that asserts that "writing is a delicious agony."

    1. the unabated war we seem unable to define goes on

      Because of the attempted change in code to end explicit verbal racism that Evans references in her earlier line, "all transition merely language," she is implying that the oppression of Black people has become more subversive and systematic. Racism isn't gone, and thus the war against it is not over, but it becomes more difficult to fight against a system than those that control it.

    2. Who is it bides the time and why? And for how long?

      Like the call-to-action that Evan’s conjures earlier in this verse, she uses this line to place the blame of the unrelenting oppression that is still ongoing on those that are complacent to it.

    3. II

      Evans’ second verse builds in frustration as it works to re-contextualize the oppression of African Americans from the first act as something that is still occurring today. The seemingly hopeful end of the first act is met with a bleak future/”Present” in the second.

    4. All transition merely language.

      Here Evans is pointing out the lack of actual progress in the fight against racism, where the "change" made to combat injustice did not go far enough - where racial slurs become taboo but violence towards Black citizens continues.

    5. Sanctioned lynchings Still orgasmic

      In her introduction at the 1994 Furious Flower conference, Mari Evans dedicates this poem to African American victims police brutality, to exemplify this reoccurring history or violence and injustice. In particular, she dedicates the poem to Michael Taylor, a 16 year old Black boy in 1987 that was shot in the temple while his hands were steel-cuffed behind his back; his death was unjustly ruled a “suicide”.

    6. disciplined entanglement wild welt of trees and gullies

      Evans' use of words like "disciplined" and "welts" serves to present imagery that is both related to the natural scene/setting of the first verse, and to slavery, as the first verse paints a picture of Black slaves running in fear of their white enslavers, attempting to escape.

    7. I

      “Alabama Landscape” is written in three verses, each one moving further into the future. The first is set in the time of slavery, the second in the “present” when the poem was written, and the third looks to the future for action and change.

    8. Alabama Landscape

      Alabama has a long and tragic history systematic racism and injustice towards African Americans. By naming this poem, “Alabama Landscape,” Mari Evans is using specific place as a relevant model of the continuous and unsolved disease of racism in America.

    9. assailed impervious indestructible

      Mari Evans uses line breaks to emphasize the strength and perseverance of a person that has endured injustice. When read aloud at the 1994 Furious Flower conference, Evans gives each of these three words their due diligence with significant time to settle.

    10. tall as a cypress

      Evans uses this simile to compare the long-standing resilience of Black woman to cypress trees, which grow fifty to eighty feet tall, and can live upwards of six hundred years.

    11. I learned Da Nang and Pork Chop Hill

      Evans includes Da Nang and Pork Chop Hill, battle sites of both the Vietnam and Korean Wars (respectively), to further the narrative of violence and tragedy that runs parallel to American History.

    12. my son scream all the way from Anzio

      The Battle of Anzio took place in January of 1944 in Italy. The author references this battle to further propel the poem into the present, while highlighting more moments of injustice and death throughout U.S. history. After World War II, where Black and white Americans fought alongside each other, Black soldiers came back to a country that they had risked their lives for only to return to unrelenting injustice.

    13. I lost Nat’s swinging body in a rain of tears

      This is in reference to the freedom fighter Nat Turner, who in 1831 led a four-day slave rebellion in Southern Virginia. The Nat Turner Rebellion was the longest and most effective slave uprising in U.S. history. When Turner was found six days after the Rebellion, he was tried and executed by white men.

    14. canebrake

      “Canebrake” refers to a thick brush of sugar-cane, a crop that furthers Evan's use of imagery that is symbolic of slavery.

    15. I saw my mate leap screaming to the sea

      This line marks the start of Evan’s historical references to ongoing oppression and mistreatment of African-American people since the beginning of their time in North America, starting with the Slave Trade. To-be-enslaved Africans would abandon ship to escape their daunting future as slaves.

    16. some sweet arpeggio of tears

      Arpeggios are often referred to as “broken” stacked chords, where each note in the chord is played after the other, instead of all at once. The poet is writing about her building frustration and fear; lamenting about the tragedies that have befallen African Americans.

    17. I am a black woman

      Though this poem is written in first person, the speaker is an enduring and universal observer that transcends time. She is not telling the story one Black woman’s experience, but of the injustices that Black women have endured since the beginning of the slave trade.

    1. in a uniform, Blue cap, shirt and pants, black vest with orange stripe

      Barrax doesn't specify who this women is, but based on everything else we can assume she is some type of law enforcement

    2. Cooper Road

      Barrax lived on Cooper Road in Raleigh North Carolina

    3. She died before anybody came.

      She died trying to contact people but there wasn’t enough time. Also, this last line confirms what you were thinking the whole poem, almost like a reminder if you didn’t get it, it’s about a death

    4. Fourteen months and twenty-four days ag

      From the date stated in the poem.

    5. Easter Sunday.

      A day celebrating life, the resurrection of Jesus, but there is a death which gives an interesting juxtaposition

    6. Pittsburgh

      Barrax moved here with his family in 1944

    7. I know, I know. You’ll be grateful you were here this morning.

      Another speaker. Either Barrax overhearing someone consoling another or Barrax in his head saying he will be grareful for witnessing this

    8. Where the dead still lies to receive them.

      This suggests it's very recent

    9. long hoarse

      Repetition of hoarse, very specific cries

    10. Lurching

      Definition: make an abrupt, unsteady, uncontrolled movement or series of movements; stagger.

    11. officers who have done their duty prepare to leave

      This suggests the police dealt with the scene

    12. Raleigh Blue and White at the curb

      A police car in North Carolina. Barrax lives in North Carolina at this time.

    13. gray hearse

      A vehicle that holds a coffin. Suggesting a death

    14. Half collapsed and staggering as if from a sudden blow

      Suggests she's in so much grief she is unable to function

    15. long, hoarse cries

      Someone crying loudly

    16. let her get away

      Seems to relate to the authors discomfort regarding the situation, he disagrees with the mothers actions but is too scared to speak up.

    17. perfect trust

      Adding to the previous annotation, these kids are too young to formulate their own opinions on what is socially acceptable so they just believe their mother because she is “in charge.”

    18. four and six

      Highlighting they are young and probably do not understand the situation

    19. “Little boys don’t hold hands!”

      Seems to be potentially homophobic, the mother does not want her sons to be seen in public touching. Could also be that she feels judged as an African American family and does not want any more attention drawn to them.

    20. heard the slap of fingers on knuckles breaking them apart

      The mother disciplined them for what she believed was misbehaving in the store

    21. But I wasn’t walking fast enough

      We can assume the author can feel the intensity of the situation and is trying to avoid it

    22. harried

      Def: feeling strained as a result of having demands persistently made on one; harassed

      This suggests she does all the work around the house and deals with the children

    23. seemed there must be a father for

      Assuming they had a father and were a put together family. If the mother is out with her four children (children are expensive) in the day, meaning she isn't working. Assuming the father is working.

    24. Black family we’d all like to see

      Seems to be insinuating that they portray a better image of black families than the less put together stereotypes people associate African Americans with.

    25. all brightly neat and starched,

      Pointing out their neat appearance sets up poem for the following line which is a juxtaposition of African Americans and their stereotypes

    26. express line

      He is clearly there to be in and out

    27. Winn-Dixi

      A grocery store chain in the South. This is key, because it tells you this event happened in the South. This was written in 1997 and racism is prevalent in the South still.

    28. heart

      Barrax was simply going to the grocery store, not anticipating a scene to be made. Something as small as being at the grocery at the wrong time could lead to something that affects you deeper.

    29. Jeopardy

      The poem seems to be highlighting the issue of homophobia. The title may be in reference to the idea we are in "jeopardy" if we continue to be homophobic.

    1. named me the seventh day from my birth

      In Islam, it is tradition to name a baby seven days after it is born.

    2. OUR PEOPLE!

      The speaker is saying that African- Americans are a part of everybody.

    3. Brazil, in Nigeria, Ghana, in Botswana, Tanzania, in Kenya, in Russia, Australia, in Haiti, Soweto, in Grenada, in Cuba, in Panama, Libya in England and Italy, France.

      These geographic regions are showing where Black people originated from through the Black Diaspora. The Black Diaspora refers to the mass dispersion of people from Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trades. The Diaspora took millions of people from Western and Central Africa to different regions throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.

    4. They call me out of my name.

      This may suggest that the author is upset because “African American” restricts being Black to only American people, when there are Black people from other nationalities. People with darker skin are all group together, regardless of their ethnicity.

    5. African-American.

      A Black American, The term generally refers to descendants of enslaved people who are from the United States.

    6. Hyphenation.

      Hyphenation is the breaking of words into smaller units. In this case African-American is what is being hyphenated. The speaker is saying they are more than just this term. There is only one identity to them, which is being Black.

    7. Capitalize

      The speaker capitalizes their name because it is their identity that they are proud of.

    8. Do not call me out of my name

      this phrase is repeated in the beginning of the poem. Instead of saying “they call me out of my name”then the speaker changes it to “ do not”. This refers to a demand and to show the power of who she is “ A Black”

    9. MY PEOPLE!

      “ My People” refers to all black people and how the speaker is intertwined with them all. They are a community of people.

    10. Unconquerable

      Unconquerable is capitalized in the middle of the stanza. Unconquerable usually refers to an adjective, but in this case since it is capitalized it can also refer to the speaker as an identity. Unconquerable is also the speaker's name.

    11. disdain

      The speaker's people are not ashamed or feel embarrassed by these stereotypical things or of their culture

    12. I am Kojo.

      As stated in the line before the speaker tells the reader that 'kojo" means unconquerable. The word Kojo is capitalized, this suggest that other than being " A Black" one of her other names that she goes by is Kojo.

    13. We are Here, we are There.

      Black people are not restricted to one geographic area such as America, they are located all over the world.

    14. I am one of The Blacks.

      Not only is this referring to the speaker's identity, but using " The Blacks" is now referring to the speaker and their community.

    15. A Black

      This refers to her identity as a person.

    16. open umbrella.

      The term "open umbrella" is used to cover a broad number of functions or items that all fall under a single common category. This may suggest that Black categorizes all nationalities and does not exclude due to geographic boundaries.

    17. BLACK

      In this stanza BLACK is all capitalized which shows the seriousness and how powerful being Black is to speaker. Black is more than just an adjective, it is an identity. This poem was during the period of the Black Power Movement. This was a time when Black people grew proud of their identity and started a movement.

    1. Bees

      Bees is capitalized, which may be because they are an extension of the tree, or it could also be that it is capitalized due to being the first word of a new sentence

    2. or your medicine (to treat our ills) we thank you.

      Baobab trees are used to create a powder used in traditional medicine

    3. or your fiber (to weave our clothes) we thank you

      Many African tribes weave clothes out of Baobab tree fibers

    4. for your fruit, we thank you

      Baobab trees produce large fruit that acts as a vital source of food and water for many tribes and species of animals in Africa

    5. we thank you

      As the subject changes from “Tree-Mother” to “we” words are no longer capitalized, signifying how the tree is of greater importance and the main subject of the poem

    6. Tree of White, Pendulous Flowers

      Adansonia Digitata, a species of Baobab tree found throughout sub-Saharan Africa produces white flowers

    7. Tree of the Spirits of Children Waiting To Be Born

      This references how the Baobab tree is viewed as a source of fertility in certain African cultures

    8. Tree Rooted in Sun and Soil

      Baobab trees have root like branches, making it appear as if they have roots in the sky

    9. Tree-Mother

      The poem takes the form of a praise poem, a form where the subject of the poem, in this case the subject being the “Tree-Mother”, is offered admiration by the speaker

    10. Baobab

      “Baobab”is the name the genus of trees Adansonia, found throughout Africa, Madagascar, Australia, and the Arabian peninsula

    11. he went ahead with compass and transit to plot the site. “Capital streets must be broad,” he said, “-and built right!”

      Benjamin Banneker assisted in the surveying of Washington D.C.

    12. a multitude of men in a new millennium descend as from celestial ships to walk an alien shore again.

      This line references the slave trade, with the alien shore being a reference to America. Benjamin Banneker was an outspoken critic of slavery and wrote letters to Thomas Jefferson voicing his opposition to the institution.

    13. He marked the day by his wooden clock--

      Benjamin Banneker famously constructed a functioning clock when he was young

    14. told how bright tomorrow was.

      Banneker’s almanac did include his calculations on what times the sun would rise, but this has a second meaning of referring to the future Banneker saw for African Americans

    15. saw the page in his almanac

      Benjamin Banneker published an Almanac featuring his astronomical calculations along with his opinions on various topics

    16. Benjamin Banneker

      Benjamin Banneker was a free Black astronomer and mathematician born in 18th century Maryland

    1. Spilled over sands

      Metaphor, that could mean her black identity was too strong to be covered up by trying to write like a white person as the Wheatley family, white publishers, and white readers would want.

    2. so long a death.

      The experience of being of on a slave ship in the Middle Passage is often referenced as death in literature because it was so treacherous.

    3. bright dark

      Although "bright dark" is an intentional oxymoron, the speaker is most likely referring to intellectually bright because early on, Susanna Wheatley (John's wife, whom she was a servant for) noticed her intellect.

    4. but not the same

      This is a shift in the poem, showing the distinct difference between her life in Africa and her life in America

    5. ship

      Phillis Wheatley was brought to Boston, Massachusetts, on a slave ship in 1761, this is the venture being described throughout the first part of the poem.

    6. Of vomit, sweat, and feces

      The conditions often included no bathrooms, spread of disease, and myriad of sicknesses.

    7. Then the sun died and time went out completely.

      This is probably referring to when the ship had finished its stops on the African coast and made its venture across the Pacific Ocean.

    8. airless tomb Where chains confined me motionless to a dank wall

      Conditions on a slave ship were horrific, often including seclusion in a confined room and being shackled to a wall.

    9. golden fire

      Metaphor meaning sun rays reflecting off of the wet rocks; an intentional focus on the beauty of this setting shows Wheatley's fondness in regard to the proximity to her home.

    10. ride.

      This could allude to the use of a wrap to allow mothers to be hand-free while carrying their babies on their bodies.