Anne Spencer: Poet, Gardener, Activist
April 20, 2010 10:21 PM Subscribe
posted by julen (7 comments total)
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(1882-1975) (video tribute
from the State Library of Virginia) was a Harlem Renaissance poet, a gardener, a librarian, and an activist. Her work was influential among her peers and successors - as was her legendary and beloved garden
in Lynchburg, Va, where she lived for her entire adult life. She wrote only 50 known poems - 25 to 35 of which were published in her lifetime - on topics that were important to her - the beauty of nature, racism and equality, and her faith, including these 8 of her better-known poems
, Before the Feast of Shushan
, and Lady, Lady
. Many of her poems were reprinted in anthologies, but the controversial White Things
(c. 1918, published c. 1923, inspired by a particularly horrible lynching of a pregnant woman) was never reprinted.
She was discovered and strongly encouraged by James Weldon Johnson
when he came to help Spencer, her husband, and other citizens found the Lynchburg, Va chapter of the NAACP. She worked to integrate the faculty of the local black school and became the librarian at Dunbar High
. She was as passionate about equality and education as she was about her garden, which inspired a episode of A Garden Story
house and garden are now a museum
. The house is kept as it roughly was when she died in 1975; local garden clubs are restoring the garden to it's 1930s splendor.