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"In the beginning I never found poems in the American literary pantheon about the things I knew best. I decided that I would at least do my part and try to put some of those poems in there. At the time I was reading black American literature, mostly in anthologies. I didn't know about Sterling Brown. If I had, I would have taken a different approach...

"In the 60s the critical thing in discovering the work of people who had preceded me was going to the folk archives of the San Francisco Library and listening to a recording of Sterling Brown and Robert Hayden. Not only did I get a chance to follow that up by reading their poems in books and anthologies, but I also heard their voices. That transformed a lot of things for me. I realized there was a musicality, a certain kind of artistic rigor that I hadn't heard before." (Gulf Coast, p. 8, 9)

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