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Samuel Allen borrows from history and stretches his language to include the cadence of the Black sermon.

Selected Bibliography

  • Every Round and Other Poems. Lansing, MI: Lotus Press, Inc., 1987.

  • Ivory Tusks and Other Poems. New York: Poets press, 1968.

  • Paul Vesey's Ledger. Detroit, MI: Broadside Press, 1975.

  • Poems from Africa. New York: HarperCollins Children's Books, 1973.

Discussion Questions

1. Why is "The Apple Trees in Sussex" set in Mississippi? Allen identifies Mississippi as "the worst state." In what way does he mean this? List events that you have studied from the civil rights movement and identify those that occurred in Mississippi.

2. Is the form Allen uses in "Harriet Tubman" effective? How does he bring her to life?

3. Allen says art is suggestive and poetry is a catalyst. What does he mean by this? Does this statement only apply to poetry?


Samuel W. Allen's poetry has been published in four collections: Elfebein Zahne; Ivory Tusks and Other Poems; Paul Vesey's Ledger and Every Round. His poems have also appeared in more than 200 anthologies. Known for merging African and African American culture in his poetry, he roots his poetry in the heritage of black people with the oral tradition, African survivals and the Southern black church as his major influences. Allen is also a prominent figure in Africa and African American criticism as a reviewer, translator, editor and lecturer. His translations of Jean-Paul Sartre's Orphee Noir and Leopold Senghor's Anthologie de la Nouvelle Poesie Negre made these important works available to non-French-speaking readers. Working as an attorney until 1968, he accepted the position as Avalon Professor of Humanities at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and has since devoted himself to teaching and writing. Allen taught at Wesleyan University, 1970-71, and at Boston College from 1971 until he retired in 1981. He has also served as writer-in-residence at Tuskegee and at Rutgers University. Allen has lectured extensively on black affairs both literary and political at major national and international conferences, and he has read his poetry at institutions throughout the United States and abroad.

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