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Lorenzo Thomas (poet)

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Title: Lorenzo Thomas (poet)  
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Subject: Black Arts Movement, Umbra poets, Deaths in July 2005, New Langton Arts, Amiri Baraka
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Lorenzo Thomas (poet)

Lorenzo Thomas (August 31, 1944 – July 4, 2005) was an American poet and critic. He was born in the Republic of Panama and grew up in New York City, where his family immigrated in 1948.


Thomas was a graduate of Queens College in New York. During his years there, he joined the Umbra Workshop, which drew young writers to the Lower East Side of New York City in search of their artistic voices. It served as a crucible for emerging black poets, among them Ishmael Reed, David Henderson and Calvin C. Hernton. The workshop was one of the currents that fed the Black Arts Movement of the '60s and '70s, the first major African-American artistic movement after the Harlem Renaissance.

For more than two decades a professor of English at the University of Houston–Downtown, Thomas also made important contributions to the study of African-American literature. In 2000, he published Extraordinary Measures: Afrocentric Modernism and 20th-Century American Poetry, his overview of the work of James Fenton and Amiri Baraka, among others.

Selected publications

  • Chances are Few (1st edition, 1980)
  • The Bathers (1981)
  • Extraordinary Measures: Afrocentric Modernism and Twentieth-Century American Poetry (2000)
  • Chances are Few (expanded 2nd edition, 2003) (ISBN 0-912652-77-2)
  • Dancing on Main Street (2004)
  • Don't Deny My Name. Introduction Aldon Lynn Nielsen. University of Michigan Press. 2008.  

External links

  • Houston ChronicleObituary in the
  • "Houston Loses an Important Resident Writer..." remembrance of Thomas in Houston Chronicle
  • Talking to Lorenzo Thomas (Virtually) interview with Thomas @ The New Journal
  • EPC–Lorenzo Thomas Homepage @ The Electronic Poetry Center
  • FURIOUS FLOWER: African American Poetry, 1960-1995 A "Facilitator Guide" to the Video Series
  • Black Arts Movement @ article from "African American Literature Book Club" website
  • Teachers & Writers: Poet's Chat in this interview with Daniel Kane, Thomas talks about the connections between African-American derived prosody and modernism, and suggests ways in which teachers can make historical links between texts not usually considered as related. This interview is an excerpt from a longer, more comprehensive piece published in the book Poetry and Pedagogy, edited by Juliana Spahr and Joan Retallack

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