Celebrating the goodness of God on Black Poetry Day

A Black poet celebrates God’s miracle-working power on National Black Poetry Day

Today’s blog post spotlights a special celebration. Although not recognized as a national holiday, October 17 is designated as Black Poetry Day. During this time we celebrate poets of African American heritage and their contribution to the literary landscape of the nation and of the world. Why was this particular day selected for the celebration? For the answer we go back to the America’s literary beginning and the “Father of Black Poetry.”

Jupiter Hammon, the first person of African descent to publish a poem in colonial America, was born October 17, 1711. Publishing a literary work of any kind during this period was a remarkable accomplishment for anyone, but for a man born into slavery, writing and publishing “An Evening Thought” in 1761 was nothing short of a miracle.

Born on the estate of merchant Henry Lloyd of Oyster Bay, NY, Hammon was believed to have been a lay minister. As a devout Christian, he expressed his religious convictions in all of his poetry and prose. In addition to An Evening Thought, his works include An Essay on the Ten Virgins, 1779; A Winter Piece, 1782; An Evening’s Improvement, 1783; An Address to the Negroes in the State of New York, 1787. In 2013 a University of Texas at Arlington English professor and his doctoral student located an unpublished poem, “An Essay on Slavery,” handwritten by Hammon around 1786.

Some believe Hammon may have experienced a powerful conversion during the Great Awakening, the religious revival of the mid 1700s, as he hammers out the word “salvation” more than twenty times throughout this first poem, An Evening Thought. Written in hymn stanzas or common meter, the same metrical pattern as many of the hymns of John and Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts from the same period, the structure of the poem leads some to speculate that Hammon’s poetry may have been set to music.

Black Poetry Day was first proposed in 1970 by Stanley A. Ransom. As author of America’s First Negro Poet: The Complete Works of Jupiter Hammon, Ransom has sought to bring wider recognition to Hammon and his works. Professor Ransom was among the scholars cited in my dissertation which examined the poetry of Hammon and three other black poets: Phillis Wheatley, George Moses Horton, and Frances E.W. Harper. Indeed, the poetry of Jupiter Hammon has profoundly influenced me as a practicing poet whose literary style also mirrors an attraction to the Bible for inspiration.

Recently, I went to my oncologist for a follow-up visit after starting hormone therapy and a new dietary/nutritional protocol as part of his most recent response to prostate cancer which had metastasized to my hips and thighs. I received some good news when I learned that my PSA reading had dropped significantly–from 90+ down to 0.7! As the situation miraculously unfolded, I was inspired to write this:

Look at God!

Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”
Isaiah 40:9 (ESV)

I am turning a new page, stepping out into the more,
Reaching far beyond anything I have ever thought of;
Beyond anything I have even dared to ask for;
Through Christ, God is able to do exceedingly above,
Way beyond anything my finite mind could ever see.
Recently, God Himself opened the windows of heaven
And poured out a blessing–a miracle crafted for me:
My PSA had skyrocketed to more than ninety,
But within a month it plummeted to zero point seven.
Nothing is impossible–all things are possible with God.
When we pray, it is no secret what Father God can do;
What He has done for others He can do for me and you.
Behold! The outpouring of the Spirit of the Living God
As we now witness signs, wonders, and miracles: “Look at God!”

For all my family and friends in the Columbus, Ohio area, I will be sharing my testimony at 10 a.m. Sunday, October 20, 2019 

Equippers City Church Apostolic Resource Center
6954 Americana Parkway
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068

Following my presentation, I will be signing copies of Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs. I invite you to follow me down the road less traveled in a journey that weaves original poetry, Scripture, and a holistic battle plan, sharing how I emerged, not just as a survivor but more than a conqueror. Readers can apply my message of hope to overcome any adversity.

For more details about Embracing Your Life Sentence check out 

https://www.lonnelledwardjohnson.com/

We close with J J Hairston and Youthful Praise singing “Miracle Worker.”

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