The essay offers a new perspective on the resurgence of Afro-modernism in the 1940s, arguing that the vernacular sonnet—specifically Langston Hughes’s “Seven Moments of Love: An Un-Sonnet Sequence in Blues” and the sonnets of Gwendolyn Brooks and Robert Hayden—played a crucial role in this development. As a consciously synthetic form of writing, the vernacular sonnet allowed poets to combine black everyday speech and high-modernist elements without subordinating one to the other. The essay examines the transformations these idioms underwent in response to each other and traces the emergence of techniques such as slant rhyme from the collision of the conventional boundaries of the sonnet with the unconventional sounds of the vernacular. It positions the vernacular sonnet as a pioneering form that anticipates both the achievements and the challenges of the Afro-modernist project.
Timo Müller; The Vernacular Sonnet and the Resurgence of Afro-Modernism in the 1940s. American Literature 1 June 2015; 87 (2): 253–273. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-2886115
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