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I Want To Write -- Margaret Walker

Guest poem submitted by Aamir Ansari:
(Poem #822) I Want To Write
 I want to write
 I want to write the songs of my people.
 I want to hear them singing melodies in the dark.
 I want to catch the last floating strains from their sob-torn throats. I
want to frame their dreams into words; their souls into notes. I want to
catch their sunshine laughter in a bowl;
 fling dark hands to a darker sky
 and fill them full of stars
 then crush and mix such lights till they become
 a mirrored pool of brilliance in the dawn.
-- Margaret Walker
I came across this poem on one of those aimless web wanderings and, even
though I am not a minstrel, this one found its place with me. Few poets
convey responsibility as Dr. Walker does; responsibility stemming from a
deep-rooted sense of love for people. She gives writers a good name. And
young people a place to start from, a home created with her words and her
extraordinary sensibility.



Margaret Walker was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1915, the daughter of
college professors. Her family moved to Mississippi, back to Alabama, and
then to New Orleans when Margaret was ten. Walker's maternal grandmother,
Elvira Ware Dozier, lived with the family, and the stories she told Margaret
of life during slavery in Georgia inspired Walker's novel, Jubilee (1966),
which imagines the Civil War and emancipation from the point of view of
slaves on the cusp of freedom. When Walker was sixteen, Langston Hughes, who
was reading at New Orleans University, read some of her poetry and
encouraged her to go north for her education. Walker graduated from
Northwestern University in 1935, and worked in the New Deal Federal Writers'
Project from 1936 to 1939. In 1940, Walker received an M.A. in creative
writing from the University of Iowa. Her thesis became her first published
collection of poetry, For My People (1942). Walker taught from 1949 through
1979 at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, where she retains
emeritus status. While teaching, she completed her Ph.D work for Iowa, and
in 1966, she received her Ph.D. Jubilee, which Walker had been working on
since she was nineteen, served as her dissertation. Walker initiated a Black
Studies program at Jackson State in the early 1970s (a research center for
African-American studies at Jackson State is currently named for Walker),
and has published a number of works of poetry, as well as a biography of
Richard Wright.

[broken link]

[Links] is a large and comprehensive site devoted
to Walker and her poetry. It includes a detailed biography.

Maragaret Walker passed away in December 1998; here's an obituary:

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