African American Literature

Start Free Trial

Una Marson borrows from an African-American musical genre to suggest solidarity with those of African lineage around the world. What genre does she borrow from, and what is the title of the work in which she does this?

Una Marson borrows from African-American blues in her poem “Kinky Hair Blues.” She also borrows from African-American hymnals and religious songs in her poems “A Prayer” and “Weariness.” In her 1938 play Pocomania, Marson pays tribute to the music and dancing of African revivalists.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One African-American musical tradition that Una Marson borrows from is the blues.

The tradition and history of the blues is complex and extensive. It has to do with United States and the institution of slavery. Remember, millions of Africans were brutally forced from their homes and transported to the United States. Yet the enslavers did not take away their culture. On the plantations, African slaves sang songs to help counter their pain and suffering. Some of that music would eventually become known as the blues.

Una Marson pays homage to the blues with her poem “Kinky Hair Blues.” The poem borrows for the dialect and rhythm of typical blues songs. Diction like “dis” and “gwine” spotlight Marson’s adherence to the blues voice and the way in which musicians sung and pronounced certain words.

Marson also honors hymnals and religious songs in poems like “A Prayer” and “Weariness.” These two poems speak to God about the pain and suffering of life. They ask God to provide some comfort and guidance.

In her 1938 play Pocomania, Marson paid tribute to the musical traditions of Africa. Pocomania centered on a group of African revivalists in Jamaica. The play featured African musical numbers and dancing. Pocomania, in real life, tended to feature dancing and music. The dances would be accompanied by drums, tambourines, and cymbals.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team