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Author Fun Facts: Anne Spencer

Hey Fellow Readers!

So, today I am back with another author fun facts post, and this time we will be learning about Anne Spencer, a poet. I decided to do a poet this time, and found one that I honestly have never heard of. I like doing this posts because it brings authors and poets to an audience that may have never heard of them. I am excited to learn about poet Anne Spencer with you all!

Let’s get started!

  • She was born on February 6, 1882 in Henry County, VA
  • She was the daughter of former slaves and was enrolled in school for the first time when she was 11
  • She graduated as valedictorian
  • Her poetry engages themes of religion, race, and the natural world
  • She was a civil rights activist
  • More than thirty of her poems were published in her lifetime, making her an important figure of the black literary and cultural movement of the 1920s, the Harlem Renaissance
  • She is the second African American poet to be included in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry
  • Her poem verses included biblical and mythological themes, as well as those of her garden and nature

I found one of her poems titled “At The Carnival”, and wanted to share it with all of you.

“Gay little Girl-of-the-Diving-Tank,
I desire a name for you,
Nice, as a right glove fits;
For you—who amid the malodorous
Mechanics of this unlovely thing,
Are darling of spirit and form.
I know you—a glance, and what you are
Sits-by-the-fire in my heart.
My Limousine-Lady knows you, or
Why does the slant-envy of her eye mark
Your straight air and radiant inclusive smile?
Guilt pins a fig-leaf; Innocence is its own adorning.
The bull-necked man knows you—this first time
His itching flesh sees form divine and vibrant health
And thinks not of his avocation.
I came incuriously—
Set on no diversion save that my mind
Might safely nurse its brood of misdeeds
In the presence of a blind crowd.
The color of life was gray.
Everywhere the setting seemed right
For my mood. Here the sausage and garlic booth
Sent unholy incense skyward;
There a quivering female-thing
Gestured assignations, and lied
To call it dancing;
There, too, were games of chance
With chances for none;
But oh! Girl-of-the-Tank, at last!
Gleaming Girl, how intimately pure and free
The gaze you send the crowd,
As though you know the dearth of beauty
In its sordid life.
We need you—my Limousine-Lady,
The bull-necked man and I.
Seeing you here brave and water-clean,
Leaven for the heavy ones of earth,
I am swift to feel that what makes
The plodder glad is good; and
Whatever is good is God.
The wonder is that you are here;
I have seen the queer in queer places,
But never before a heaven-fed
Naiad of the Carnival-Tank!
Little Diver, Destiny for you,
Like as for me, is shod in silence;
Years may seep into your soul
The bacilli of the usual and the expedient;
I implore Neptune to claim his child to-day!”

To learn more about this amazing woman and poet, please visit the websites that I got this information from:

http://www.annespencermuseum.com/biography.php

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/anne-spencer

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