Dudley Randall Essay - Randall, Dudley (Vol. 1)

Randall, Dudley (Vol. 1)

Randall, Dudley 1914–

Black American poet, novelist, short story writer, and critic. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 25-28.)

[Dudley] Randall possesses a firm sense of the lyric, and Cities Burning is more appropriately a book of songs or psalms than a rugged razor-edged batch of poetry that might correspond to the title of the collection itself. The lyrical tone dominates throughout; it is so strong that the poem "Ballad of Birmingham" is one example of the kind of Randall piece that has been set to music. Randall is a contemporary of Gwendolyn Brooks, and so not in the new school of black poets; but all schools aside, his is a keen functional awareness of what black poetry has been and remains, and there is no hint of an alienation from the ethos being developed by the new stylists. In theme and passion, black poetry has always had its own thing going in sound, sense, imagery, metaphor, and content, and there are many different styles or ways of "doing the thing."…

Randall's verse is closer to the feeling of the rhetoric or the Scriptural prophets than the spontaneous rap….

Randall has brought to [his poetry] a good heart, ear and eye for sensitive observation, all [of] which enhance his lyricism. Young black poets who read him should be influenced by him to some degree, for his voice alone is infectious; moreso, he is contributing something to black literature that has a lasting value.

Ron Welburn (© 1969 by Ron Welburn; originally appeared in the December 1969 issue of Negro Digest), in Negro Digest, December, 1969.