December 1st – Eugene Redmond

“And poetry is music’s twin.”

Eugene Redmond, Drumvoices

Eugene Redmond was born on December 1st, 1937, in St. Louis, Missouri. His mother died in 1946, and his father was not around, so he was raised by his grandmother and friends from church in East St. Louis. He was an observant child, always writing things down, and this keen awareness later translated into award-winning poetry.

From1958 to 1962, he served in the Marine Corps and wrote poetry for the Marine magazine Leather Neck. He received his bachelor’s in English Literature from Southern Illinois University in 1964, and a master’s from Washington University in 1966. 

Throughout his career, Redmon has taught at multiple Universities. From 1970-1985 he served as a Professor of English and poet-in-residence at California State University-Sacramento. In 1976 he was named the Poet Laureate of East St. Louis and published his pivotal academic work,  Drumvoices: The Mission of Afro-American Poetry: A Critical History. Drumvoices was one of the first critical studies of African-American poetry and lent legitimacy to the art form. 

In addition to publication in multiple anthologies, Redmond has also published six poetry collections, including River of Bones and Flesh and Blood (1971), Songs from an Afro/phone (1972), In a Time of Rain and Desire (1973), and his most recent work  Arkansippi Memwars (2013).

He also edited the work of Henry Dumas, a young black poet, and academic who was shot dead by New York Transit Police in 1968 in a case of mistaken identity. As the executor of Dumas’ literary estate, Redmond worked with Toni Morrison to get Dumas’ poetry and stories published after his death. 

Today Redmond is a celebrated poet and academic closely associated with the Black Arts Movement.

Lesson from Redmond

Pay attention to what’s not being said in the drumbeat of life, and give it language.

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