Poem for April 25: Carolyn Rodgers

[A pioneer in the Black Arts movement and a stalwart Chicago poet, Carolyn Rodgers passed away April 20.  She was 69. Here is a brief excerpt from the Los Angeles Times obituary:

“Her work always positions black women in particular as strong and not as victims but as survivors,” said Quraysh Ali Lansana, director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University, where he is also an associate professor of English.

Rodgers also wrote short stories and was an accomplished critic and essayist who produced well-regarded explorations of the new wave of African American poetry in publications like Negro Digest/Black World.

Rodgers was born in Chicago in 1940 and grew up in the Bronzeville neighborhood. Her father was a welder, her mother a homemaker and both were readers who encouraged in their children an early love of books.

Testament

Carolyn Rodgers, photo in L.A. Times

by Carolyn M. Rodgers

child,
in the august of your life
you come barefoot to me
the blisters of events
having worn through to the
soles of your shoes.
it is not the time
this is not the time
there is no such time
to tell you
that some pains ease away
on the ebb & toll of
themselves.
there is no such dream that
can not fail, nor is hope our
only conquest.
we can stand boldly in burdening places (like earth here)
in our blunderings, our bloomings
our palms, flattened upward or pressed,
an unyielding down.

from The Heart As Ever Green (Garden City: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1978). Copyright © 1978 by Carolyn M. Rodgers.

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