Books by Marcus Bruce
Song of the Black Valiants: Marching Tempo
High Ground: A Collection of Poems /
Negro soldiers in the Battle of New Orleans
I am New
Orleans: A Poem
Negro Iron Workers of Louisiana: 1718-1900 /
The Liberty Monument
* * *
Bontemps Acknowledges Receipt
of Documents for his Yale Collection
703 E. 50th Place
23 March '43
Just a quick one. I am trying to clear my desk before leaving for the eastern jaunt--Rutland, Vermont, New
York City and Washington. By the time you receive this I
expect to be on my way. I must, however, take a moment to thank you for the materials for the YALE collection. They arrived
yesterday, and I have had a good time reading the poems. I was also interested in the Schomberg letters.
The whole batch is being relayed to Carl Van Vechten today. Perhaps I'll have a chance to talk to him about the gift in New York.
Meanwhile, that translation of Desdunes would still be most welcome. Also the Randolph Edmonds manuscript and
My trip to Fisk was very pleasant, but it left me still
waiting for the coin to flip. In other words, no final settlement has been made.
Incidentally, I know a terrific secret. Use your imagination if you wish. Perhaps it will violate no confidence
if I simply say that it bodes no ill for you.
P.S. Did you get that copy of Vail, De la literature et des hommes de lettres des Etats-Unis (Paris, 1841) mentioned
in Veith's letter to you. He says that pages 321-34 treat Negro authors, and that sounds fascinating, considering the date.
What are chances of having a look at the volume? Or is the material interesting enough to bother with?
* * * *
Wendell Bontemps (1902-1973) -- born in Alexandria,
Louisiana, the son of Creole parents -- was one of the more prolific writers of the
Harlem Renaissance. He was the author of over 25 books of
poetry, history, biography, fiction and anthologies. Bontemps
was a major figure of the Harlem Renaissance. Bontemps served as
head librarian at Fisk University from 1969 to 1972. He was also
curator of the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Negro
Arts and Letters at Yale University.
In 1923, Bontemps
received his B.A. from Pacific Union College in Angwin. In 1924,
his poetry appeared in Crisis
magazine, the NACCP periodical edited by Dr. W.E.B. DuBois.
Is a Mountain" won the Alexander Pushkin Award and in 1927 "Nocturne
at Bethesda" achieved first honors in the Crisis poetry contest.
Personals, a collection of poetry was published in 1963.
Bontemps then turned to
prose. In the decade of the thirties, he wrote three acclaimed novels
God Sends Sunday (1931);
Black Thunder (1936); and Drums at
Dusk (1939). Frustrated in his ability to reach his own generation
Bontemps to literature for children and young graders. In 1937 he
Sad-Faced Boy; and others for young audience
We Have Tomorrow (1945) Slappy Hopper (1946) and
of the Negro (1948).
Bontemps was involved in the publication of at least three
Golden Slippers: An
Anthology of Negro Poetry for Young Readers (1941); with
The Poetry of the Negro, 1746-1949
Bontemps, American Negro Poetry
(1963 & 1974 rev.).
Bontemps was gracious enough to include Christian's poems in all his
Bontemps' beautiful short story "A Summer
is found often in anthologies. It is indeed a treat. His poems "A
Black Man Thinks of Reaping," "Southern
"Nocturne at Bethesda" are often anthologized. But such poems
as "My Heart Has Known Its Winter" and "Day
Breakers" are also found in anthologies.
Early in his career Bontemps had wanted to get a Ph.D. in English but
with his marriage in 1926 and the coming of six children he had to work.
He taught for awhile at an Alabama junior college. With the coming of
the Depression he worked for the Illinois WPA and supervised and
assisted in the writing of a history of the Negro in Illinois. In 1943
he completed a degree in library science and served as librarian at Fisk
University and developed an archive of African American
cultural materials that is a major resource for study in this field.
* * * *
Anyplace But Here
Arna Wendell Bontemps : A Bibliography
Robert E Fleming. James
Weldon Johnson and Arna Wendell Bontemps: A
reference guide. G. K. Hall, 1978
Kirkland C. Jones.
Man from Louisiana; A Biography of Arna Wendell
Bontemps.. Greenwood Press, 1992.
Sterling Brown "Arna
Bontemps: Co-worker, Comrade." Black World
22:11 (September 1973): 92-98.
* * * *
Selected Diary Notes
Memories of Marcus B. Christian
BioBibliographical Record Introduction to I AM NEW
Theory of a Black Aesthetic Magpies,
Goddesses, & Black Male Identity
Activist Works on Next Level of Change
Intro to I Am New
Letter from Dillard University
Labor of Genuine Love
Letter of Gift of
LSU and Skip Gates
* * *
* * *
Negro Iron Workers of Louisiana: 1718-1900
By Marcus Bruce Christian
Study of the blacksmith tradition and New
Orleans famous lace balconies and fences.
Acclaimed during his life
as the unofficial poet laureate of the New Orleans
African-American community, Marcus Christian recorded a
distinguished career as historian, journalist, and literary
scholar. He was a contributor to Pelican's
Gumbo Ya Ya, and also wrote many articles that appeared
in numerous newspapers, journals, and general-interest
* * * *
Drums at Dusk
By Arna Bontemps
A story of love, violence, and
race set at the outbreak of the Haitian Revolution in 1791, African
American writer Arna Bontemps's Drums at Dusk immerses readers in
the opulent and brutal--yet also very fragile--society of France's
richest colony, Saint Domingue.
First published in 1939, this
novel explores the complex web of tensions connecting wealthy
plantation owners, poor whites, free people of color, and the slaves
who stunned the colony and the globe by uniting in a carefully
The novel's hero, Diron
Desautels, a white Creole born in Saint Domingue who belongs to the
French antislavery group Société des Amis des Noirs, attempts to
spread his message of "liberty, equality, fraternity" in a world
fraught with conflict.
Imaginatively inhabiting a wide spectrum of Haitian voices,
including those of white indentured servants, female slaves, and Toussaint
L'Ouverture, who later emerged as the revolution's best-known hero, Bontemps's
work reflects not only the intricacies of Haitian society on the eve of the
revolution, but also a black artist's vision of Haiti in the twentieth century,
during the U.S. Marines' occupation and at the brink of war in Europe. A new
introduction by Michael P. Bibler and Jessica Adams reveals how Drums at
Dusk--even seventy years after its original publication--contributes to
contemporary studies of the American South as part of the larger plantation
region of the Caribbean, and inspires a reevaluation of assumptions about
revolution, race, and nationalism.
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * * *
My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)
* * *
update 1 May 2009