We are grateful to have you join us as we celebrate the legacy of Phillis Wheatley, Margaret Walker, and Black women writers who have changed the writing landscape as we know it. The Margaret Walker Center proudly hosts the 50th anniversary reconvening of the Phillis Wheatley Poetry Festival as we lift up this ongoing work of Black excellence through intergenerational conversations, scholarly analysis, and creative writing.
Jesmyn Ward, Alice Walker, Angie Thomas, Sonia Sanchez,
Nikole Hannah-Jones, Tonea Stewart, Eve L. Ewing,
Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Imani Perry, Paula Giddings,
Vinie Burrows, Maryemma Graham, Carole Gregory, Nic Stone,
Joanne Gabbin, Shelly Lowe and Maria Rosario Jackson
Chair: Ebony Lumumba
Through thickest gloom look back, immortal shade, on that confusion which thy death has made.
In 1973, Margaret Walker hosted a groundbreaking conference for Black women writers for the bicentennial of Phillis Wheatley’s work Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. Under the Black Studies Institute that Walker had founded five years earlier at Jackson State, thirty of these leading women participated in a series of lectures, roundtable discussions, poetry readings, and other events on campus.
Before You Knew
You Owned It
Expect nothing. Live frugally
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.
Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.
Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
Jackson State University is designated as a “higher research activity” institution by the Carnegie Foundation.
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