Poet ‘helped define 1960s Black Arts Movement’


Celebrating black history

Poet ‘helped define 1960s Black Arts Movement’

By Diana Penner

Poet and author Mari Evans was honored with a Ugandan stamp promoting literacy. – The Star 1998 file photo

Mari Evans doesn’t keep track of how many books she has published or poems she has written.

Numbers are not what’s important, said the Indianapolis poet, essayist, dramatist, playwright, short-fiction writer, editor and author of children’s books.

Evans doesn’t tally up her accolades and honors, either.

But there have been many.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Evans attended the University of Toledo. She has taught at Indiana University as well as Cornell University and Spelman College, Atlanta, among others.

A reviewer once said of her: "Evans’ poetic voice helped define the 1960s Black Arts Movement." Google her name, and you get a suggestion that you also check out Nikki Giovanni, Countee Cullen, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker and Gwendolyn Brooks, among others. That’s the company she keeps.

In 1997, Evans was honored with a Ugandan postage stamp.

When pressed, she said she is especially proud that a scholarship is awarded in her name and the name of Zora Neale Hurston, whose poem "Their Eyes Were Watching God" Evans adapted for the musical "Eyes"; and that she was nominated for a Grammy in 2001 for her portion of the liner notes for the Harry Belafonte-produced "Long Road to Freedom: An Anthology of Black Music."

Poet ‘helped define 1960s Black Arts Movement’ | IndyStar.com | The Indianapolis Star

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