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Carolyn M. Rodgers Portrait

Carolyn Rodgers grew up in Chicago’s South Side, where her intellectual and political vision was shaped in part by the Organization of Black African Culture and by poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Her poetry of the late 1960s voices the revolutionary nationalism of the Black Arts movement, but in a free-verse style with street slang that some of the male leaders of the movement found inappropriate for a woman. Even in these early poems, moreover, she registers notable tension between her revolutionary program and African American culture's more traditional commitments. In the 1970s, the period emphasized in this selection, she broke with her earlier militancy and emphasized her family heritage and the church's foundational role in her life. Rodgers was educated at Roosevelt University and the University of Chicago. She has also written short stories and influential literary criticism.