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Claudia Jones's Prison Blues

Carole Boyce Davies

Abstract


The poetics of the blues is the aesthetic in which I want to locate this discussion of Claudia Jones's creativity in poetry. Angela Davis's Blues Legacies and Black Feminism studied the work of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday with one of its aims being to demonstrate that there are multiple African-American feminist traditions (xix) . . . helping to forge other legacies blues legacies, black working-class legacies of feminism (xx). Davis's work includes a fair selection of blues lyrics as appendix and identifies the recurring theme of imprisonment in both female and male blues. Examples include Jail House Blues, Work House Blues, Sing Sing Prison Blues, Send Me to the Lectric Chair and Chain Gang Blues, which most incisively and realistically addresses this omnipresent fact of life in the black community, given the machinations of the prison industrial complex (102). The convict lease system and the chain gang system, we learn, did not exempt black women by virtue of their gender (103).

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ProudFlesh: New Afrikan Journal of Culture, Politics and Consciousness. ISSN: 1543-0855 (online).
Editor: Dr. Sonjah Nadine Stanley-Niaah.

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