Blanche Taylor Dickinson: A Mystery

by Kiani Ellingson
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Born on a farm in 1896, Franklin, Kentucky; Dickinson attended Simmons University and then later became a schoolteacher for several years. During those years, she was most likely to be writing her published pieces in Opportunity, The Crisis, American Poet, Ebony and Topaz, and Caroling Dusk. Also, in 1927, Dickinson won the Buckner Prize for "A Sonnet and a Rondeau" ("Honey"). She lived in Sewickley, Pennyslvania at the time with her husband, Verdell Dickinson (1898-1978), who was a truck driver born in Trenton, Kentucky. Dickinson appears in the July 1927 issue of Opportunity, and was described as a highly attractive woman, but after 1929 she disappears from view ("Notable"). Very little is known about this poet, but during her short years of publication, Blanche Taylor Dickinson wrote some interesting pieces ("Honey").

Blanche Taylor Dickinson was a poet in the Harlem Renaissance whose pieces represented black women's perspectives during this time. Her poems are based on the suffering of women who feel invisible and ugly as they live in a world of white standards. The tone she gives to her characters, are isolated, imprisioned, vulnerable, but silent. Dickinson lived in a world of oppression, recieving difficulty for being both of African American descent and a woman in the Harlem Renaissance. She got the attention of many through expressing her feelings in some beautiful poems ("Honey").


She screamed but no one heard her...
Her body was a silencer.
She cried and never moved a tear...
Her heart was broken, tears dripped there.

Silent, she seemed content to lay
Her soul awhile in fresh red clay.
Proud to stand, all grief defying...
We knew that she was all but dying.

This poem (Blanche) is about a woman enduring pain. Nobody cared for her pain though, "She screamed but no one heard her", and so she didn't show it, "Her body was a silencer." This woman was angry at the way she was treated and she felt her heart was broken. Her pain wasn't expressed; she kept it inside, tight in her heart, "Tears dripped there." Instead she was silent and she stayed in this uncomely state of being, or "fresh red clay." This woman kept on going, doing her best to keep her pride, and ignore her grief; however, the fact was that she wasn't doing very well.

Blanche Taylor Dickinson was a Harlem Renaissance poet who stood for the grief that the black women of the time were dealing with. Fortitude is a very straight-forward poem expressing the raw emotion that she, as a black woman in the Harlem Renaissance, was feeling. The poem represents the difficulty that her community faced through one character. At the end of the poem, it tells the audience, after going through all the pain with her, that it was killing them and that this should stop.

Honey, Maureen. "Blanche Taylor Dickinson ."
Shadowed dreams: women's poetry of the Harlem Renaissance. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989. 77. Print.

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