"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have." ~ James Baldwin
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
P O Box 1752 Paris TX 75461 ~ 903.783.9232 ~ naacp6213@yahoo.com
Meets First Thursday of Each Month at 6:00 PM ~ 121 E Booth

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Frank Horne

Kid Stuff

                                                                The wise guys
                                                                tell me
                                                                that Christmas
                                                                is Kid Stuff...
                                                                Maybe they've got
                                                                something there --

                                                                Two thousand years ago
                                                                three wise guys
                                                                chased a star
                                                                across a continent
                                                                to bring
                                                                frankincense and myrrh
                                                                to a Kid
                                                                born in a manger
                                                                with an idea in his head...

                                                                And as the bombs
                                                                all over the world
                                                                the real wise guys
                                                                that we've all
                                                                got to go chasing stars
                                                                in the hope
                                                                that we can get back
                                                                some of that
                                                                Kid Stuff
                                                                born two thousand years ago.

Frank Horne was born August 18, 1899 in Brooklyn, New York. He began writing poetry while attending the City College of New York, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1921. He then attended the Northern Illinois College of Ophthamology, and practiced as an optometrist in Chicago and Harlem. 

Horne was part of the Harlem Renaissance, writing for the NAACP's Crisis and the National Urban League's Opportunity magazines. He won second place in Crisis's 1925 poetry contest with Letters Found Near a Suicide, a collection of 11 poems. He was primarily a reviewer for Opportunity, winning a top prize in 1924 for a critique including this advice to African American writers:
"Your task is definite, grand, and fine. You are to sing the attributes of a soul. Be superbly conscious of the many tributaries to our pulsing stream of life. You must articulate what the hidden sting of the slaver's lash leaves reverberating in its train -- the subtle hates, the burnt desires, sudden hopes, and dark despairs.... Sing, O black poets, for song is all we have!"
In 1926 Horne left New York to take a position on the faculty of Fort Valley High and Industrial School (now Fort Valley State University.) His essay I Am Initiated into the Negro Race describes his move to the south, saying ""From now on, I am the Enterer of Side Doors, and Back Doors, and sometimes No Door At All." Over the next decade he served as instructor, track coach, dean and acting president. He earned a master's degree from USC in 1932, researching the state of vocational education. Portions of his thesis were published in Opportunity containing the conclusion that
"As factors in training Negro youth to earn a livelihood in industrial America of today, the industrial schools of the South, except in a few rare instances, could practically all be scrapped without appreciable loss to any one....We are fiddling with 'man-and-plow' agriculture in the face of the gang-plow and the tractor; our home economics girls are in bodily danger in a modern kitchen; the language of collective bargaining, company unions and cooperatives is so much Greek to the ears of our industrial students."
Mary McLeod Bethune recruited Horne on 1936 to become her assistant at the National Youth Administration. He later served in the Federal Housing Authority, succeeding Robert Wagner as Director of the Office of Race Relations, responsible for addressing issues of equality in public housing. After Wagner became Mayor of New York City, Horne became director of the city's Commission on Intergroup Relations and served as a consultant to the NYC Housing Redevelopment Board.

Horne continued to write poetry throughout his life, bridging the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Power Era with work such as He Won't Say Put ("and mighty Martin Luther King / he ain't go no Santy this year"). He died on September 7, 1974 at the age of 75. He was the uncle of singer Lena Horne, who lived with his family in Georgia for several years.

Letters Found Near a Suicide
from The Crisis (November 1925)
by Frank Horne
To All of You
My little stone
Sinks quickly
Into the bosom of this deep, dark pool
Of oblivion . . .
I have troubled its breast but little.
Yet those far shores
That knew me not
Will feel the fleeting, furtive kiss
Of my tiny concentric ripples . . . . .
* * *
To Lewellyn
You have borne full well
The burden of my friendship–
I have drunk deep
At your crystal pool,
And in return
I have polluted its waters
With the bile of my hatred,
I have flooded your soul
With tortuous thoughts,
I have played Iscariot
To your Pythias . . . . .
* * *
To the Poets:
Why do poets
Like to die
And sing raptures to the grave?
They seem to think
That bitter dirt
Turns sweet between the teeth.
I have lived
And yelled hozannas
At the climbing stars
I have lived
And drunk deep
The deceptive wine of life. . . .
And now, tipsy and reeling
From its dregs
I die . . .
Oh, let the poets sing
Raptures to the grave.

from Ebony and Topaz: A Collectanea (1927)
by Frank Horne
Down in Georgia
a danglin’ nigger
hangin’ in a tree
. . . kicks holes in the laughing sunlight–
A little red haired
Irish girl . . . grey eyes
and a blue dress–
A little black babe
in a lacy white cap . . .
The soft red lips of the little red head kiss so tenderly
the little black head–
grey eyes smile
into black eyes
and the gay sunlight
laughs joyously
in a bust of gold . . . 
Down in Georgia
a danglin’ nigger
hangin’ in a tree
. . . kicks holes in the laughing sunlight–”

No comments:

Post a Comment