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Discussion Questions

1. What literary traditions do the poets of the Dark Room Collective seem to draw upon most fully?

2. The themes of family and community are prominent in the poems in the "Initiates" section. Discuss the similarities and differences in the poets' exploration of these themes.


Elizabeth Alexander was educated at Yale University and Boston University, where she studied with Derek Walcott. Having previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania, she currently teaches at the University of Chicago. Her first collection of poems, The Venus Hottentot, published in 1990, reveals poems that often explore the interior lives of historical black figures, exposing emotions and experiences that strikingly illuminate public concerns. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in such publications as The Southern Review, American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Callaloo, Black American Literature Forum, and The American Voice. She also reviews contemporary literature for The Village Voice. A 1992 recipient of the NEA artist grant, she has been anthologized in In The Tradition: An Anthology of Young Black Writers edited by Kevin Powell and Ras Baraka and Every Shut Eye Ain't Asleep, edited by Michael S. Harper and Anthony Walton. Her latest book is Body of Life (1996).


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