In class this week, Dr. McCoy introduced us to some of her favorite poems in Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American poetry by Charles H. Rowell. This anthology is more focused on post-1960’s poetry. Before class, I browsed through the book and a few things jumped out at me that we also were curious about in class. Why did Rowell choose these certain poems to go into the book when there are millions in the world to choose from? While reading some of the poems throughout the book I have noticed that every poem has a strong and/or moving meaning or story behind it. The anthology description of the book describes it as “not just another poetry anthology. It is a gathering of poems that demonstrate what happens when writers in a marginalized community collectively turn from dedicating their writing to political, social, and economic struggles, and instead devote themselves to the art of their poems and to the ideas they embody.” Every poem in this anthology is touching on some sort of problem.
One poet that was featured in this anthology was Pat Parker . Parker identifies as a lesbian, and is an African-American lesbian feminist poet and activist. Parker was also actively involved in the civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights movements. She portrays her perspectives in her poems, a good example being “For the Straight Folks: For the straight folks who don’t mind gays but wish they weren’t so blatant.” As this poem was being read aloud by my classmate Toby, I could feel the connection of what Parker was trying to portray. One way I believe it grabbed my attention the most was her use of humor that she weaves throughout the poem. She shows her humor by saying “BUT gays shouldn’t be so blatant” after every verse. I read this as Parker trying to tell the audience numerous times that gay people are just like anyone else that lives in this world so why are they treated like everything they do is outrageous.
In this poem you can see how Parker uses everyday examples of straight couples to show that gay people are being demonized for doing the same thing. This is evident when she writes, “you go to an amusement park and there’s a, tunnel of love, and pictures of straights painted on the front and, grinning, couples are coming in and out. BUT gays shouldn’t be so blatant.” Parker is speaking up in her poem trying to portray that gay people should be seen as equal. She explains this when she writes the verse “Fact is, blatant heterosexuals are all over the place. Supermarkets, movies, on your job, in church, in books, on television everyday day and night, every, place-even-in gay bars and they want gay, men and women to go and hide in the closet.” She is showing that the gay community should not have to hide in the closet, but instead they should be seen as equal. The way she is fighting for equality is still very relevant in today’s world. Not everyone sees the LGBTQ+ community as equal. Since 1977, when this poem was published, to where we are today, you can see tremendous improvement for the community where a lot more people are supportive of the community and there are gay pride events all over the United States.