Many of the poems in Images of Kin, suggest to you the value and appreciation that Michael Harper has of history. He has an entire book/section dedicated to history titled History is Your Own Heart Beat. Harper’s values of history are demonstrated in his poetry and shows that literature to him is a study of comparative humanity; meaning “the conscious concern with one’s inner development, which is to say the maturation, the flowering, of a vibrant interior life,” (Rowell 789). This is a strategy that helps him decide what stories are worth telling; by their potential to form a bond and connection with the reader. For instance, Harper will write “homages” dedicated to specific people that impacted him in some way. Many of the poems also reveal the intersection Harper makes between music, history, and the Afro-American culture.
A majority of Harper’s poetry displays a historical consciousness of the ability that ancestors of the past have on manipulating the present (Joseph Brown 213). In his poem, “Continuous Visit,” Harper refers to his ancestors and how their presence is still with him. This poem refers to his own special place within a circle of witnessing saints (Joseph Brown 218). Harper uses imagery to set a nature scene with ambivalent detail with phrases like, sunflower patches and weedy ditches and the description of bass linked with “cast frogs, hooked through/their mouths” visualizing the bass as uncatchable. The image of vivid oak trees is also used to paint a... [continues]
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