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December 5, 2018

#Poetry S. McCrae Finalist 2017 National Book

by N@ncy



  1. McCrae speaks through the voices of
  2. black man in a hman zoo (inspiration: Ota Benga)
  3. black American actor (inspiration: Stepin Fetchit)
  4. black ward of Jefferson Davis Jim Limber
  5. ….and some  autobiographical prose poems
  6.   giving a fleeting glance into the poet’s childhood.
  7. I found the poems of Jim Limber were so touching
  8. giving me a look at the other side of Jefferson Davis
  9. President of the Confederacy
  10. …as Daddy Jeff.



  1. I listened to a podcast
  2. ….an interview with Shane McCrae.
  3. Suddenly a light went on in my head.
  4. The poems in the voice of Jim Limber should be
  5. held against the backdrop of the poet’s own life!
  6. Jim Limber  was the black ward of Jefferson Davis,
  7. President of the Confederate States of America.
  8. Shane McCrae was raised by his white grandparents.
  9. Both Jim and Shane were living with a white supremacist.
  10. Just keep that thought in mind as you read the Jim Limber poems.



  1. When is a sonnet a sonnet?
  2. If you look at the Jim Limber poems…
  3. you would not recognize them as sonnets
  4. …but they are.
  5. They are not in the standard form
  6. ..but there are
  7. Spencerian, Italian and Shakespearean sonnets.
  8. I’m still trying to figure out the meter and rhyme!
  9. The poem in which Jefferson Davis speaks is a dream.
  10. McCrae did not want Davis in the present
  11. …only in emotions passing through his mind.



  1. The deepest feelings are the hardest to define.
  2. McCrea uses the voices of others:
  3. Jim Limber (black boy ward of Jefferson Davis)
  4. Ota Benga (Congo pygmy)  featured in an anthropology exhibit
  5. Stepin Fetchit (America’s first black movie star)
  6. to expose racism.
  7. In several poems there is an
  8. …exactness that is palpable.
  9. Here are a few lines about:


White folks:

  1. …’cause how they own you is they own your options
  2. …I waste my mind trying to read white folks’ minds
  3. they name you for a thing your hunger made you do (Hambone Jones)
  4. …I (Jim) look at Joe (step brother)
  5. he got daddy Jeff’s face, My daddy’s white
  6.    so I don’t get his face.


Last thoughts:

  1. Here is a podcast so you can
  2. meet this young American poet
  3. …and listen to a very good discussion
  4. …about McCrae’s life and his work.
  5. McCrae is bi-racial (white mother and black father)
  6. He was raised by his white supremacist grandparents.
  7. He dropped out of high school but earned a GED certificate.
  8. (General Educational Development)
  9. He attended Linfield College in Oregon and went on to
  10. earn a law degree at Harvard.
  11. This poet has a lot to tells us….have a listen.


Read more from poetry

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