Obiya Jolly_ 1537245-“Lady Writes the Blues. Call and Response in the Poetry of Afro-American Women”


Hopewell, Kathy. “Lady Writes the Blues. Call and Response in the Poetry of Afro-American Women.” Equal Opportunities International 19.2-4 (2000): 93-102. ProQuest Central. Web. 20 June 2016.


Argument: The article juxtaposes the representation of women in blues genre of music with the poetic imagination of African American in 20th century. The article is centered on the argument that “the figure of the blueswoman in the ‘classic’ era of the blues (the 1920s) is perhaps the major inspiration behind the black women’s poetic tradition in the latter half of this century” (Hopewell, 93).

Supporting points: 1) The classical blues were mostly performed by women performers. Hopewell cites the example of Ma Rainey, a blueswoman performer, who addressed Black sensibilities. According to Hopewell, Ma Rainey’s poems dealt with “the plight of sharecroppers and poor Southern blacks and the pain of sexual betrayal and mistreatment.” (97)

2) An artist named Bessie Smith “embodied the sensual power of the black woman” in her lyrics (98).

3) During the Black Arts Movement in the 1970s, poets such as Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni and Carolyn Rodgers, continued to amplify the themes of “black women’s oppression, addiction and violence” (98).

4) The lyrics of the classical blues and the black women’s poetry that emerged in the latter part of the century focused on the proud female figure with her strong sensuality and bodily presence.

Limitations of the Article: Besides the lack of organization within the article, it supports the central argument with examples from both blues genre and women’s poetry. The analysis could be more elaborate.

Connection to the current research: The article briefly mentions the thematic trends of African American women’s poetry in the late 20th century. Poets such as Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez are of primary focus for the proposed research as of now. A glimpse into some of the poems of these poets has been provided in the article. This article could be one of the starting points to further research into the thematic study of African American women’s poetry.



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