Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In Memory of Carolyn M. Rodgers

CHICAGO (AP) — Carolyn M. Rodgers, a Chicago poet and writer who helped found one of the country's oldest and largest black-owned book publishers, has died. She was 69.

The Chicago-based Third World Press says Rodgers died April 2 at Mercy Hospital after battling an undisclosed illness.

The Chicago native wrote nine books, including "How I got Ovah." Her work often delved into the experiences of black women.

Rodgers is credited with being a star of the black arts movement of the 1960s and 1970s. She helped found Third World Press in the 1960s. She also started her own publishing company, Eden Press.

Funeral services have been held. A public memorial is planned May 4 where Rodgers' work will be read.

Rodgers is survived by her mother and two sisters. source

Reading the news online this morning, I was saddened to learn that Ms. Rodgers passed in early April. As I mentioned in a previous post, Ms. Rodgers' words are some of the best I've ever read.  I've always felt she was overlooked by the masses, but she's no less important to the literary and poetry world than Nikki Giovanni or Audre Lorde.  Below is one of my favorites from her.

It Is Deep (don't never forget the bridge that you crossed over on)
By Carolyn Rodgers

Having tried to use the
witch cord
that erases the stretch of
thirty-three blocks
and tuning in the voice which
woodenly stated that the
talk box was "disconnected"

My mother, religiously girdled in
her god, slipped on some love, and
laid on my bell like a truck,
blew through my door warm wind from the south
concern making her gruff and tight-lipped
and scared
that her "baby" was starving.
she, having learned, that disconnection results from
non-payment of bill (s).

She did not
recognize the poster of the
grand le-roi (al) cat on the wall
had never even seen the books of
Black poems that I have written
thinks that I am under the influence of
when I talk about Black as anything
other than something ugly to kill it befo it grows
in any impression she would not be
considered "relevant" or "Black"
there she was, standing in my room
not loudly condemning that day and
not remembering that I grew hearing her
curse the factory where she "cut uh slave"
and the cheap j-boss wouldn't allow a union,
not remembering that I heard the tears when
they told her a high school diploma was not enough,
and here now, not able to understand, what she had
been forced to deny, still--

she pushed into my kitchen so
she could open my refrigerator to see
what I had to eat, and pressed fifty
bills in my hand saying "pay the talk bill and buy
some food; you got folks who care about you . . ."

My mother, religious-negro, proud of
having waded through a storm, is very obviously,
a sturdy Black bridge that I
crossed over, on.


  1. Lucille Clifton, AI, now Carolyn Rodgers. They are so young (not even 70). It saddens me. They were never honored in the ways they should've been in life.

  2. I like this. I had never heard of her before her death. Sad.