Mari Evans Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Mari Evans is known not just for her poetry but also for her children’s books, which include Singing Black: Alternative Nursery Rhymes for Children (1976) and Dear Corinne, Tell Somebody! Love, Annie: A Book About Secrets (1999). She has also written a number of plays, such as Eyes (pr. 1979) and River of My Song (pr. 1977), and a volume of essays, Clarity as Concept: A Poet’s Perspective (2006). She directed The Black Experience for WTTV in Indianapolis between 1968 and 1973 and edited Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation (1983).


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Mari Evans received many honors and awards, including the John Hay Whitney Fellowship (1965-1966) and the Hazel Joan Bryant Award from the Midwest Afrikan American Theatre Alliance. A Woodrow Wilson Foundation grant in 1968 allowed her to pursue her teaching career. I Am a Black Woman earned the First Poetry Award from the Black Academy of Arts and Letters in 1970. She received the Indiana University Writers’ Conference Award (1970) and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship (1981-1982). In 1975, Marion College (later known as Indiana Wesleyan University) granted her an honorary degree, and in 1976, Bloomington, Indiana, named her Outstanding Woman of the Year.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Blain, Virginia, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy, eds. “Mari Evans.” In The Feminist Companion to Literature in English. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1990. Provides a general synopsis of Evans’s career.

Evans, Mari, ed. Black Women Writers, 1950-1980: A Critical Evaluation. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1983. Includes Evans’s important essay “My Father’s Passage,” in which she describes her philosophy of composition. Contains considerable additional information about Evans and two critical essays on her poetry.

James, Charles L. “Mari Evans.” In Contemporary Poets, edited by Tracy Chevalier. 5th ed. Chicago: St. James Press, 1991. Catalogs Evans’s accomplishments, noting her sociopolitical impact and complex voice.

Jordan, Casper LeRoy, comp. “Mari Evans.” In A Bibliographical Guide to African-American Women Writers. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993. Offers a bibliography of primary and secondary works.

Keys, Romey T. Foreword to Nightstar, by Mari Evans. Los Angeles: Center for Afro-American Studies, University of California, 1981. A brief but incisive introduction to the second major volume of Evans’s poetry.

Melhem, D. H. Heroism in the New Black Poetry. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1990. Refers to and discusses Evans’s work in the course of interviews with Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Peppers, Wallace R. “Mari Evans.” In African-American Poets Since 1955, edited by Trudier Harris and Thadious M. Davis. Vol. 14 in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1985. Chronicles Evans’s life and work, emphasizing her scope, social influence, and technique.

Sedlack, Robert P. “Mari Evans: Consciousness and Craft.” College Language Association Journal 15 (1972). Examines poetic techniques used in Evans’s award-winning collection I Am a Black Woman.