Nikki Giovanni is a distinguished African American writer and poet who released several albums that reflect the turbulent late-'60s social revolution and being an African American feminist. Her work includes poetry anthologies, poetry recordings, and nonfiction essays, and covers topics ranging from race and social issues to children's literature.
She has perceptively and poetically recorded her observations of both the outside world and the gentle yet enigmatic territory of the self. When her poems first emerged from the Black Rights Movement in the late 1960s, she immediately became a celebrated and controversial poet of the era.
Written in one of the most commanding voices to grace America's political and poetic landscape at the end of the twentieth century, Nikki Giovanni's poems embody the fearless passion and spirited wit for which she is beloved and revered.
Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgement is one of the single most important volumes of modern African-American poetry. The book, electrifying generations with its revolutionary phrases and inspiring them with such Nikki Giovanni masterpieces as the lyrical "Nikki-Rosa" and the intimate "Knoxville, Tennessee," is the seminal volume of Nikki Giovanni's body of work. Black Feeling Black Talk/Black Judgement made Nikki Giovanni famous in 1968.
André Breton is known best as the co-founder, leader, principal theorist and chief apologist of Surrealism. His writings include the first Surrealist Manifesto of 1924, in which he defined surrealism as "pure psychic automatism".
André Breton wrote a long, book length poem titled Fata Morgana towards the end of 1940, in Marseilles. His desire to have this future book illustrated was in keeping with the practices of the artistic coalition that he, himself, led and had organized. Wilfredo Lam, was a thirty-eight year old Cuban painter who Breton believed to have a great deal more to ‘say.’
Breton spent some time in the greenhouse on the vast Air-Bel property, creating the epic work Fata Morgana - a poem, as he commented the following summer, that “states my resistance, which is more intransigent than ever, to the masochistic enterprises in France that tend to restrict poetic freedom or to immolate it on the same altar as other freedoms.’
The many passing references to his actual circumstances wash up like flotsam on the shore of a dream: his recollections of Mexico, memories of absent friends, the daily concerns of life at Air-Bel, his spiritual withdrawal from these bleak times, and, once more, his love for Jacqueline, the “ibis mummy” through whom he rediscovers his lost unity.
During the winter of 1940 – 1941, Lam and Breton developed mutual respect for each other. The poet had the gift of recognizing budding talent and sensed Lam would create a visionary world in the future. When Breton asked him to illustrate his poem Fata Morgana, a poem full of his Mexican impressions, Lam set to work and produced hundreds of ink and pencil drawings, which are particularly prescient of his future signature style. In March, six of his drawings accompanied the printing of five copies (published by Editions Sagittaire), but the book was blocked by the censorship commission, forbidden on the grounds that Breton was suspected of being an anarchist and that his work was a “negation of the spirit of national revolution.”
Mary Ellen Solt was an American concrete poet, essayist, translator, editor, and professor. Her work was most notably poems in the shape of flowers such as "Forsythia", "Lilac", and "Geranium". They were collected in Flowers in Concrete (1966).
In 1968 Solt edited the groundbreaking and historically significant anthology Concrete Poetry: A World View, which the New York Times wrote was "considered one of the major anthologies of the form." In Concrete Poetry : A World View, she collected, translated, introduced, and contextualizing the global movement of concrete poetry that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s : the first international literary movement.
The editor-poet, Mary Ellen Solt, composed her poem, “Moonshot Sonnet,” from reformatted diagrammatic-codes initially used by NASA-engineers to plan and execute the moon landing. The engineers placed the diagrammatic-codes over photographs of the lunar surface, and Solt abstracted the diagrams without any photographic reference.
Using the codes, she transformed the result into a sonnet, with the codes appearing in “exactly fourteen “lines” with five “accents,” a Petrarchan or Italianate sonnet. Her poem is a distinctively American sonnet. It is not just an iconic concrete poem, but also a poetic emblem of a national identity.
The literary poetics reduce language to an eloquent semiotic code system and universal visual language. Although the poet-editor, Solt, describes her influences as arriving from the Brazilians and Europeans, the actual poem is also unmistakably alluding to geometric minimalism, Pop art, and ready-mades.
The designers of Solt’s anthology, at Indiana University Press, insisted that the poem adorn the back cover of the dust jacket in part to highlight the editor’s contribution to the International Concrete poetry movement, but also as an entreaty to the American reader to appreciate the importance of a “world view” in the age of peaceful lunar exploration. The poem concretely suggests that, although the International Concrete poetry movement was launched from Brazil and Europe, it would reach its largest audience when it landed in the United States.