Legacy

Naomi Long Madgett, Champion of Black Poets,
is Dead at 97

Penelope Green, New York Times
A longtime Poet Laureate of Detroit, she is as well known for publishing the work of others as she was for her own verse.

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Noted Poet Laureate of Detroit Naomi Long Madgett Dead at 97

Herb Boyd, Metro Times
Amid the illustrious women listed on the cover of Haki Madhubuti’s book Taught by Women is Naomi Long Madgett.
Read More at Mero Times >>

Archived Papers and Collections

Naomi Long Madgett Papers / Lotus Press Archive

  • Special Collections
  • Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library
  • University of Michigan
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan

Early Madgett Papers

  • Special Collections
  • Fisk Library
  • Fisk University
  • Nashville, Tennessee

“Nearing Jordan”

I don't know what ‘retirement’ means. If I didn’t have work to do, I’d have to invent it.

NLM at 92

When you know the shores of Jordan
are not miles but steps away
and the chariot swings lower
in the waning light of day, 

you may hear an angel beckon,
“Come and rest eternally”
Then a gate will slowly open,
but beyond it you will see
one large desk piled high with papers
and a chair that bears your name
You’ll be happy to discover
earth and heaven are the same

You’ll have manuscripts to edit,
other writing jobs to do,
and your joy will last forever
at your desk beyond the blue.

Copyright 2015 by Naomi Long Madgett

“Naomi Long Madgett”
Bronze
Sculptor:Artis Lane
Permanent Collection
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American Art
Detroit, Michigan

You Are My Joy and Pain is Naomi Long Madgett’s latest and possibly most endearing poetry collection. Bill Harris, a 2011 Kresge Foundation Eminent Artist, said of the book, "Even with the evidence of over a half-century or more of first-rate poetic artistry by Madgett, this collection is a breath-arresting surprise and delight. Poem-by-poem and section-by-section amaze. Each poem in the collection is a master class in technique and in her ability to transpose an idea into a tightly composed example of the craft of poetry."

You Are My Joy and Pain receives its name from the Billie Holiday song "Don’t Explain" and is divided into three parts. The first part, "A Promise of Sun," contains fourteen poems relating to the hopeful and joyful beginning of a new relationship. The second part, "Trinity: A Dream Sequence," consists of twenty poems with religious imagery and encompasses both the beginning and the end of a relationship. The third part, "Stormy Weather," includes thirty-two poems that relate to the heartbreaking experience of a love gone wrong. These are not love poems in the abstract—the richness with which Madgett writes hints at the firsthand experience of a lifetime of loving.

While several anthologies of love poems exist in the world, it is rare to find a single-author collection that so closely examines love in all of its messy and beautiful layers. Readers will identify with the hope and disappointment that Madgett presents in these poems.


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A Poet's Voice

Octavia and Other Poems

Travel back to Guthrie, Oklahoma with award-winning poet/publisher Naomi Long Madgett. Learn about a dead aunt's legacy and the coming of age of her impressionable niece. This film juxtaposes a poetry reading by Madgett, a 73-year-old African American woman, with footage of interpretive art works created by Detroit artists who were inspired by Madgett's poems. In addition to the original artwork, the film makes use of still photographs, historical film footage and music. A cameo appearance by James Earl Jones is just one of the many noteworthy moments in A Poet's Voice.

Madgett's poetry speaks with lyric tenderness about her efforts to step out of her Aunt Octavia's shadow and into her own light.


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