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Alvin Aubert cultivated his poetic voice by synthesizing literary elements and the blues tradition.
1. Discuss the different sources of inspiration for Aubert's poems "Nat Turner in the Clearing," "Sixty-two," "Like Miles Said," and "Bessie." Why are the poems larger than the single person on whom each focuses?
2. How does Aubert define "performance"? What does he mean when he says, "The poem must perform itself on the page"? Describe how the poetry you have read "performs itself on the page."
3. What are the blues? How did they influence Aubert's work? Why is it important that he came from Louisiana?
Alvin Aubert is an award-winning poet and a playwright, editor and literary critic. In 1993 he retired from Wayne State University where as professor of English he taught creative writing and African American literature and served two years as interim chair of the Department of Africana Studies. In 1975 he founded and edited the journal Obsidian, now Obsidian II, aimed at publishing works in English by and about writers of African descent worldwide. This outstanding journal continues to debut the works of many African scholars and creative writers. Engaged in teaching since 1960, he taught at Southern University in Baton Rouge, his alma mater; the University of Illinois; the University of Oregon and the State University of New York's Fredonia campus. He received the A.M. degree in English from the University of Michigan, which he attended as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and studied at the University of Illinois. He was a Bread Loaf Scholar in poetry (1968) and received two creative writing fellowship grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for his poetry (1973, 1981). He also received an Editors Fellowship Grant (1979) from the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for small press editing and publishing, and the 1988 Callaloo Award for his contribution to African American cultural expression. His poems, articles and reviews have appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. South Louisiana: New and Selected Poems, which includes new poems along with poems from two previous collections Against the Blues (1972) and Feeling Through (1975), was published in 1985. If Winter Come: Collected Poems, 1967-1992 was published in 1994. His latest book is Harlem Wrestler: and Other Poems (1995). He is currently professor emeritus at Wayne State University.
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