Characteristics of Harlem Renaissance Poetry

Topics: CultureTradition

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Last updated: December 11, 2019

• Subject:
the African-American experience, both historical and contemporary

• Themes:
o Universal themes like love, death, time, etc.o Racial themes like identity, pride, oppression, and resistance

• Style: two dominant styles:
o emulation of traditional poetic style (elevated and formal diction)o experimentation with new style, especially the African-American vernacular

• Form: two dominant forms:
o use of traditional forms of Romantic poetry, especially the sonnet and the ballad.o experimentation with new forms and rhythms, like jazz, bebop, and free verse.

• Influences:
o Oral Tradition: Slave Songs, Hymns, Storytellingo Music: blues, be-bop, and jazzo Traditional poetry: sonnets, other forms

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