King and Poetry
King and Poetry
Quotations, Revisions, and Unsolicited Poems
This chapter details King’s deep engagement with poetry beginning with the lines from various poets that King handwrote on index cards during his years at Boston University. Representative examples from the journal The Pulpit where successful sermons were published reveals just how interrelated poetry and preaching were during King’s life. The chapter also examines many of the dozens of unsolicited poems King received from adoring fans who recognized his own love of verse. These poems reveal these amateur and professional authors’ understanding of King’s appreciation for poetry as well as their desire to have their own poetry quoted in King’s addresses. Most importantly, King not only quoted other people’s poetry, but his speeches and sermons contain sections of poetry rewritten from the ideas of other poets such as John Oxenham and Josiah Holland. From King’s mouth, even famous lines of prose are turned to poetry. The chapter concludes with a discussion of poems Hughes’s himself sent King as well as the first poem Hughes wrote about King entitled “Brotherly Love” that was eventually revised and republished in the Chicago Defender.
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