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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Poetry 1988


Poetry in 1988: A Research Note

 

 

Twenty-five years ago, Naomi Long Madgett edited and published A Milestone Sampler: 15th Anniversary Anthology (Detroit: Lotus Press, 1988).  The book is a collector’s item. Pictured on the front cover are Lotus Press poets who participated in the fifteenth anniversary celebration in Detroit, June 25-27, 1987.The back cover informs us that

 

The press has held, as a major part of its philosophy,  respect for the independence of its black poets in their choice of style and subject matter.  As a result, its products demonstrate remarkable variety, determined not by editorial biases but by technical competence.

 

We learn more about the philosophy of the Lotus Press from the first paragraph of Madgett’s foreword.

 

In a culture which does not revere its poets and does not purchase and read their works, any press that limits its activities to the publication of good poetry would seem doomed to failure.  The major publishing houses publish very little poetry, and the small presses that have survived usually include other, more profitable genres (if they publish poetry at all).  If commercial success had been the goal of Lotus Press when it was founded in 1972  -- or in 1974 when I assumed ownership  -- it surely would have died in its infancy.

 

The twenty poets sampled are

 

Samuel Allen

Houston A. Baker, Jr.

Jill Witherspoon Boyer

Tom Dent

Toi Derricotte

Beverly Rose Enright

Naomi F. Faust

Ray Fleming

Agnes Nasmith Johnston

Sybil Kein

Dolores Kendrick

Pinkie Gordon Lane

Naomi Long Madgett

Haki R. Madhubuti

Herbert Woodward Martin

E. Ethelbert Miller

May Miller

Mwatabu Okantah

Philip R. Royster

Paulette Childress White

 

A photograph of the poet prefaces each of the samplings.

 

My copy was a gift from Tom Dent, whose note of September 17, 1988 I recently found in the book---

 

                                                                                                                                Saturday

                                                                                                                                Sept. 17

 

Jerry,

     Came in last night on the way to Greenville, thanks. I may be returning tomorrow night or Monday, but with Worth Long & Co. there I’ll probably hang around.

     These are copies of Naomi’s Anthology, of which she sent several.  If I miss you will call next week.

 

                                                                                                                Thanks,

 

                                                                                                                Tom

 

 

A Milestone Sampler is a valuable document of time past and a prelude to time future. It is a site for the discovery of forms unknown.

 

 

 

Jerry W. Ward, Jr.                                                                           

March 28, 2013

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