Unprecendented Liberties:re-reading By Phillis Wheatley
?Unprecedented liberties: re-reading Phillis Wheatley ? Poetry and Poetics? By: Hilene Flanzbaum
Hilene Flanzbaum essay was about the misunderstood career of Phillis Wheatley, and the content of her literary works. Ms. Flanzbaum and other authors alike set out to justify Ms. Wheatley as a key figure in literary history. It was to be proven that Ms. Wheatley earned her rightful place in history as a ?remarkable? writer.
Phillis Wheatley?s work was always a subject of immense speculation.
Benjamin Brawley wrote that he considered Phillis Wheatley as a ?shining example of Negro genius.? He really admired, and respected Ms. Wheatley?s work. Mr. Brawley also solidified her position as a historical figure. Phillis Wheatley had many critics as well as loyal supporters. Julian Mason was one of the critics that questioned her status as a ?key historical figure.? He sought out to damage her reputation by saying that; Ms. Wheatley?s work was not of ?exceptional? quality.
I did not agree with Hilene Flanzbaum, Gayle, and Mason to name a few. Hilene Flanzbaum started out as if she was trying to prove that Phillis Wheatley deserved to be considered a ?historical figure?. However, later on Ms. Flanzbaum begin to criticize Ms. Wheatley. The little that I read about Ms. Wheatley made me think that she was a talented writer. It is as if the critics are attacking Ms. Wheatley?s character and not her work. Julian Mason said, ?It is quite clear she is not a great poet. These poems are of little interest, except historically...? That to me sounded like a personal barb towards Ms. Wheatley.
As I read on though the essay I saw an example of Ms. Wheatley?s work titled ?To Maecenas? which I thought was very good. ?Great Sire of Verse, before my mortal eyes. The lightning blaze across the vaulted skies?? If that excerpt does not prove that Phillis Wheatley was a good writer, then I do not know what will. I know everyone has his or her own opinions, but you should read all of the author?s literary work before you label the author?s work as non-effective or non-essential in history.
I just figured that Black authors should support each other no matter what. It is not as if we do not have enough critics discrediting Black penmanship. I just think that Ms. Wheatley deserve more praise than criticism simply, because she defied the odds, and became an accomplished writer. I do not think it matters whether Ms. Wheatley?s work was of historical relevance. What should have mattered was the facts that Ms. Wheatley did not let being a slave hinder her from success, but instead you have some critics that will not give her the credit that she deserves. I do not think it matters if you like the author or not, but you should respect their work. I found that remarkable that a female slave could produce poems when her people during that time were illiterate and not even allowed learning how to read. Ms. Wheatley defied many odds to become a great author. Phillis Wheatley is to be admired not criticized.
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