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Quincy Thomas Troupe, Jr.

(b. 1943)


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Jean Toomer (1894—1967)

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(b. 1943), poet, journalist, editor, producer, and educator.

Born 23 July 1943 in New York City, Quincy Troupe grew up in St. Louis and later graduated from Grambling College. While playing on the army basketball team from 1962 to 1964, Troupe traveled through Europe and began to write. He met Jean-Paul Sartre who encouraged him to write poetry. He later became influenced by such poets as Pablo Neruda, Aimé Césaire, Jean Joseph Rabearivello, Jean Toomer, and Sterling A. Brown.

Troupe's first poem “What Is A Black Man?” was published in Paris Match (1964) and examines what it is to be a black man in a racially charged society. In 1972 Troupe published his first collection of poems, Embryo Poems 1967–1971, which explores themes of the intense experiences of black people in America. The use of dialect and the influence of jazz found in these poems become characteristic of Troupe's poetic style. Snake-Back Solos: Selected Poems 1969–1977 (1979) won the American Book Award. Tom Dent, reviewing Troupe's poetry in Freedomways, noted its roots in African oral traditions and found in his work the brilliance of African American music. In the volume of poetry Skulls Along the River (1984), Troupe meditates on an array of subjects, including love, family, and the importance of a folkloric past. Weather Reports (1991) is a collection of new and previously published poems. Wilfred D. Samuels writes in the introduction to the collection that the poems provide “insights into the hieroglyphics of Black culture deeply encoded in the matrix of its language and the blues dues sounds of its songs.” Ishmael Reed has hailed Troupe as one of few American writers who can authentically embody the jazz aesthetic in poetry, while also noting the power and the strength of Troupe's imagery.

Troupe's poems are also published in various periodicals including Mundus Artium, Black World, Callaloo, Antioch Review, Umbra, Black Review, the Village Voice, the Black Scholar, American Music, and others. His work also has been anthologized in New Black Poetry, Poetry of Black America, A Rock Against the Wind, Celebrations: A New Anthology of Black American Poetry, The Before Columbus Foundation Anthology, and The New Cavalcade: African American Writing from 1760 to the Present, among others. Troupe has also recorded his poetry with musicians George Lewis, Phil Upchurch, and Donal Fox, and in 1990 released an audio cassette entitled Shaman Man.

In 1968 Troupe edited Watts Poets: A Book of New Poetry and Essays, a project that arose from his participation in the Watts Writers' Movement. He was also associate editor of Shrewd magazine and the founding editor of Confrontation: A Journal of Third World Literature and American Rag. Troupe coedited with Rainer Schulte Giant Talk: An Anthology of Third World Writing (1972), which includes a large sampling of writings by American, African, Caribbean, and Latin American authors. In 1989 he edited James Baldwin: The Legacy, a collection of what Malcolm Arthur Whyte, in a review for the Black Scholar, calls “touching and revealing.” Troupe is currently a contributing editor for Conjunctions magazine and senior editor for River Styx magazine.

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Subjects: Literature.


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