The Poetry of Walker Poetry’s Restorative Power

Alice Walker

Poetry’s Restorative Power

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Although it is less well known than her fiction, Alice Walker’s poetry is integral to her development as a writer. The restorative power of poetry, Walker claims, has continually saved her from hopelessness and suicide. In her poetry, Walker records intensely felt emotions, purging her psyche of stultifying mental states that could hamper growth. Written out of firsthand experience, Walker’s poetry reveals a sensitive African American intellectual coming to terms with disparate strands of her own existence. Along with her other literary achievements, essays, and long and short fiction, Walker’s poetry is a significant contribution to American letters, expressing the African American female consciousness.

The work with which Walker’s name is most often associated is the epistolary novel The Color Purple (1982), for which she won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize. Steven Spielberg, the well-known director of such films as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), directed the film adaptation of the book, catapulting Walker to international celebrity status. Having been writing for fifteen years before the publication of The Color Purple, Walker had been known mainly among literary audiences as one of a number of African American writers who became visible in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. With The Color Purple, Walker’s niche as a writer was secured. A skillfully written story about the travails of Celie, a black woman...

(The entire section is 572 words.)