I’ve read William Melvin Kelley’s Dem (1967) and A Different Drummer (1962). After reading Eli Rosenblatt’s piece on Kelley in May at Public Books, I decided to dig further into Kelley’s work, beginning with his short story collection Dancers on the Shore (1964). Immediately, two stories stuck out to me from the collection, “The Only Man on Liberty Street” and “The Servant Problem.” Over the next couple of posts, I want to explore each of these stories in a little more detail.
As I got ready to teach Phillis Wheatley recently, I decided to incorporate Robert Hayden’s “A Letter from Phillis Wheatley London, 1773” which originally appeared in his 1978 collection American Journal. Of course, during our discussions, we related Hayden’s poem to Wheatley, but we also thought about other connections that could be made between “A Letter from Phillis Wheatley” and other texts we have looked at throughout the course, specifically Samson Occom’s Autobiographical Narrative. Today, I want to briefly examine the ways we can, and should, use Hayden’s poem in relation to both Wheatley and Occom.
Back in October, I wrote about Lydia Maria Child’s “Chocorua’s Curse” and America’s literary presence. I’m not going to go back into the discussion from that post, I do want to expand a little on one of the allusion to the English born painter Thomas Cole that Child uses in the story. In the second paragraph, Child comments that Americans need to look for literature and art at home rather than looking towards Europe, invoking Sir Walter Scott as an example. She concludes by alluding to Cole’s landscape paintings, and specifically his depiction of Mt. Chocorua: “Our distinguished artist, Mr. Cole, found the sunshine and the winds sleeping upon it in solitude and secrecy; and his pencil has brought it before us in its stern repose.”