This coming Tuesday evening at 7pm, I'll do a launch event for my book, The Black Romantic Revolution: Abolitionist Poets at the End of Slavery (Verso Books). It'll take place virtually through the Brooklyn Public Library, and I'm very excited that I'll discuss the book with the poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, whose extraordinary recent collection of poems about Phillis Wheatley, The Age of Phillis, has also just recently come out... I hope you can make it!
It's at 7 pm, on Zoom, Tuesday, September 8th (**link to register**)
During the pitched battle over slavery in the United States, Black writers—enslaved and free—allied themselves with the cause of abolition and used their art to advocate for emancipation and to envision the end of slavery as a world-historical moment of possibility.
These Black writers borrowed from the European tradition of Romanticism—lyric poetry, prophetic visions--to write, speak, and sing their hopes for what freedom might mean. At the same time, they voiced anxieties about the expansion of global capital and US imperial power in the aftermath of slavery. They also focused on the ramifications of slavery's sexual violence. Authors like Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, George Moses Horton, Albery Allson Whitman, and Joshua McCarter Simpson conceived the Civil War as a revolutionary upheaval on par with Europe's stormy Age of Revolutions. The Black Romantic Revolution proposes that the Black Romantics' cultural innovations have shaped Black radical culture to this day, from the blues and hip hop to Black nationalism and Black feminism. Their expressions of love and rage, grief and determination, dreams and nightmares, still echo into our present. Sandler will be in conversation with Honorée Fanonne Jeffers.
Matt Sandler is Program Director of the M.A. in American Studies at Columbia University's Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race. He specializes in American and African American poetry. Before returning to Columbia, he taught at Louisiana State University, Gettysburg College, and the University of Oregon. His work has appeared in Callaloo, African American Review, Comparative Literature, Twentieth Century Literature, Atlantic Studies, the Journal of American Studies, and the L.A. Review of Books, as well as a number of anthologies.
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is a poet, fiction writer, and essayist. Her first novel, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, is forthcoming from Harper in 2021; in addition, she’s the author of five books of poetry, most recently, The Age of Phillis (Wesleyan, 2020), based upon fifteen years of research on the life and times of Phillis Wheatley Peters, a formerly enslaved person who was the first African American woman to publish a book. Jeffers’s creative work has appeared in Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry (Norton 2013), Black Renaissance Noire, Common-Place: The Journal of Early American Life, The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race (Scribner 2016), The Kenyon Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among others.