The Rhetoric of Violence in the Poetry of Don L. Lee, Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez: A Reading in Ethnic Poetry (Published)
The 1960s in America witnessed an abundance of ethnic poetry authored by young black poets. Most of that poetry was devoted to the rejection of the American culture in favor of the consolidation of an African-American personality independent of White America. This new wave of black poetry of the 1960s and ‘70s was, thus, not only a literature of protest, which gradually turned into violence exercised against white Americans, but also an outcome of a psychological state encapsulated in the internal problems of black Americans. This new black poetry was primarily employed as a catalyst aiming at awakening the ethno-political consciousness of black people. It, therefore, incorporated elements of black culture and mythos, which were meant to enhance the values of the struggle and hence the revolution to be ignited against the American value system. Utilizing the socio-political events of the period as a setting and the “black aesthetic theory,” originated in the same decade, the 1960s, as a critical framework, the present study explores the revolutionary poetry of black American poets, such as Don L. Lee (Haki Madhubuti), Nikki Giovanni, and Sonia Sanchez. In this context, the study will argue that the black poetry of the 1960s is but an offshoot of the protest motif in Afro-American poetry first initiated by the black slave poets of the 18th century. So, consequently, the black poets, dealt with in this study, will be contended to make a breakthrough and to pursue, instead, a black literary nationalism, capable of reflecting the aspirations of the Blacks. Their poetic attempts will be argued to promulgate the “black aesthetic,” to revitalize black values and to call for revolution.
Keywords: Afro-American Poetry, Black Poetry, Catalyst, Don l. Lee, Ethno-Political Consciousness, Nikki Giovanni, Protest Motif, Radical Development, Revolutionary Poets of 1960s and 1970s, Sonia Sanchez, Violence, rhetoric, the Black Aesthetic Theory