For this week’s poetry spotlight, I’m going to focus close to home–or at least, close to where I grew up and will always call home. Since I grew up in and around Dayton, Ohio, let’s take a look at the Paul Laurence Dunbar House.
By the way, I appreciate the poetry spotlight ideas people have sent my way. Keep them coming at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Poetry Spotlight Idea.
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Paul Laurence Dunbar was a poet, novelist, and playwright born in Dayton, Ohio, to former Kentucky slaves. Born in 1872, Dunbar grew in fame with his dialect poems, though he also wrote traditional verse. In fact, my favorite rondeau is Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask.”
The Paul Laurence Dunbar House is located on 219 Paul Laurence Dunbar St. in Dayton, Ohio. It is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free for both children and adults.
In 1936, the Ohio General Assembly made the Dunbar house the first state memorial in Ohio to honor an African American. The Paul Laurence Dunbar House opened to the public in 1938. A capital improvement project completed in 2003 returned the Dunbar House to its appearance at the time when Paul Laurence Dunbar and his mother, Matilda, lived there from 1903 until he died in 1906.
The house features many of Dunbar’s personal items and his family’s furnishings, including his bicycle (built by the Wright brothers); the desk and chair where the poet composed much of his work; his collection of Native American art; and a ceremonial sword that President Theodore Roosevelt presented to him.
Check out these other poetic posts:
- Bryan Borland: Poet Interview.
- Rattle Chapbook Prize: Poetry Spotlight.
- WD Poetic Form Challenge: Diminishing Verse.