Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sterling Brown

In a class on the Harlem Renaissance today, we read and discussed "The Odyssey of Big Boy," one of the best known poems by Sterling Brown (1901-1989). The poem is spoken by "Big Boy" himself, a working-class African American who's had many adventures (of the heart and otherwise) as he's traveled around working different jobs, from mule-skinner to stevedore. The choice to write the poem in a Black vernacular idiom was a interesting one for Brown, who grew up in Washington D.C., went to the famous Dunbar high school, then earned a degree at Williams College as well as an M.A. at Harvard. He became a professor at Howard University and got interested in African American folklore.

Brown's books of poems include Southern Road (1932), The Collected Poems of Sterling Brown (1980), The Last Ride of Wild Bill and Eleven Narrative Poems (1975).

Here is a link to more information about Sterling Brown.
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