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Eugene Redmond and Jabari Asim discuss the significance of cultural ancestors and define their writing in the context of grass-roots organizing.
1. Why has Redmond's poetic output been limited? Do you feel he made the right choice? Are you aware of other poets and writers who have filled the role of mentor when it was necessary?
2. Identify Shakespeare's influence in "I Can Never Unlove You."
3. How have the "street poets" influenced the "academy poets" in Redmond's opinion? What does he mean by "parallel institutions or apparatus"? Why are they vital?
Eugene Redmond, the first and only official poet laureate of his native East St. Louis, Ill., since 1976, teaches at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, his alma mater. He has written several books, including Songs from an Afro/Phone: New Poems and Drumvoices: The Mission of Afro-American Poetry, A Critical History. He, along with Henry Dumas and Sherman Fowler, founded Black River Writers Publishing Company, which has published most of his poetry. His boundless energy has propelled him into countless creative projects including his work with Katherine Dunham at Southern Illinois University's Performing Arts Training Center and his biographical study of the late poet and fiction writer Henry Dumas. Redmond has been poet-in-residence at Southern Illinois University, Oberlin College, California State University, Southern University in Baton Rouge, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Redmond is the founding editor of Drumvoices Review, a multicultural literary magazine. He is also a playwright whose works have been produced by colleges in Illinois, California, Louisiana and New York. The recipient of the 1993 American Book Award for his collection of poems The Eye in the Ceiling, he received the 1993 Pyramid Award from the Pan African Movement USA for his writing achievements and his lifetime dedication to multiculturalism. He is presently at work on a poetic biography of former premiere ballerina Katherine Dunham.
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