Since there are so many facets of the history that people of African descent have made in this country, I’ve decided to continue my “Black History 365″ series from my poetry blog here on my AfrocentriqueAZ blog. In honor of National Poetry Month, I’ll be posting a new Black poet every day this month. Every Wednesday for the months after that I will post other Black history figures (I’ll go back to my “first Black” series).
Today’s poet is Sterling D. Plumpp (video at the end of the post)
From Famous Poets and Poems and Wikipedia:
Sterling Dominic Plumpp (born January 30, 1940) is an American poet, educator, editor, and critic. He has written numerous books, including Hornman (1996), Harriet Tubman (1996), Ornate With Smoke (1997), Half Black, Half Blacker (1970), and The Mojo Hands Call, I Must Go (1982). Some of his work was included in The Best American Poetry 1996. He was an advisor for the television production of The Promised Land.
Born in Clinton, Mississippi, Plumpp was raised by his maternal grandparents, Mattie and Victor Emmanuel Plumpp, on the cotton plantation where they worked as sharecroppers. Working with them in the fields, Plumpp and his brother did not attend school until they were eight or nine years old and could walk the ten miles to theschool. At sixteen, Plumpp converted to Catholicism. He won scholarship to St. Benedict’s College in Atchison, Kansas, where he discovered Greek literature and James Baldwin’s work, and was inspired to become a writer. He left after two years, and in 1962 traveled north to Chicago. There he found work in a post office. Eventually he enrolled at Roosevelt University, where he majored in psychology, while continuing to read widely.
Plumpp’s first book of poetry, Portable Soul, was published in 1969. Since then, he has edited and contributed to various anthologies, as well as publishing further collections of poetry. He won the Carl Sandburg Literary Prize for poetry for The Mojo Hands Call, I Must Go in 1983.
Plumpp took a post teaching African-American studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago, in 1971, and went on to become a full professor there, teaching literature and creative writing until he retired with emeritus status in December 2001—having become a $1 million winner in the Illinois Lottery.