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Episode 104 Freedom Rider: Washout - James Emanuel w/ Dr. Hollis Robbins


Connor and Jack are joined by Dr. Hollis Robbins, Dean of the School of Arts & Humanities at Sonoma State University and author of the newly published "Forms of Contention: Influence and the African American Sonnet Tradition from University of Georgia Press.

They discuss the poem "Freedom Rider: Washout" by James Emanuel, touching on the memory of Rep. John Lewis, one of the original freedom riders, the reasons the sonnet has such a rich history of use by Black poets, and much more.

Find out more about Forms of Contention, here.

Freedom Rider: Washout
By: James Emanuel

The first blow hurt.
(God is love, is love.)
My blood spit into the dirt.
(Sustain my love, oh, Lord above!)
Curses circled one another.
(They were angry with their brother.)

I was too weak
For this holy game.
A single freckled fist
Knocked out the memory of His name.
Bloody, I heard a long, black moan,
Like waves from slave ships long ago.
With Gabriel Prosser’s dogged knuckles
I struck an ancient blow.

Published in Stephen Henderson, Understanding the New Black Poetry: Black Speech and Black Music as Poetic References (NY: Morrow, 1973), 237.

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