Saturday, April 7, 2018

ARTSPEAK! Harlem Renaissance poem "American Idyll, 1934"

Welcome to day #7 of 2018 ARTSPEAK!, in which I am focusing on art and artists from the Harlem Renaissance.

Before we get to that, be sure to visit Linda at TeacherDance to find out how our Progressive Poem is progressing!

Today I'm continuing my Harlem Renaissance poetry project with my last painting by Aaron Douglas who was often called the “official artist of the Harlem Renaissance," or the “Father of Black American Art.” Check back tomorrow to meet Archibald Motley!

Aaron Douglas illustrated many books during the 1920's, and I learned in the book HARLEM STOMP! by Laban Carrick Hill that his work came to embody all that the Harlem Renaissance stood for – the culturally rich aspects of African-American life and heritage.
Aaron Douglas poems so far:

"The Toiler" after The Toiler by Aaron Douglas
"Let There Be Poetry" after The Creation by Aaron Douglas
"Boy with Plane" after Boy with Plane by Aaron Douglas
"To a Dancer" after Sahdji (Tribal Women) by Aaron Douglas
"For the Builders" after Building More Stately Mansions by Aaron Douglas
"This Poem is a Dream" after Aspiration by Aaron Douglas

Today's piece An Idyll of the Deep South came toward the end of the Harlem Renaissance (1934) and was commissioned for a mural at the Harlem branch of the New York Public Library. You can read more about it here. According to Mr. Douglas, that is NOT the North star in the painting!

American Idyll, 1934

with hunger,

in blood.

a cold
distant star.

- Irene Latham


  1. That was 1934...and it hasn't changed nearly enough today...

  2. This one is a sad commentary, especially coming after yesterday's optimistic lines:
    And dreams
    will follow."

  3. The picture feels like it's honoring the time, or is it wanting everyone to see the horror, as you've written? Thirteen words says it well, Irene.


Your thoughts?