Afro-Creole Poetry in French from Louisiana's Radical Civil War–Era Newspapers
7.5 by 11 in.
Honorable Mention, Books, American Alliance of Museums (AAM) 2021 Museum Publications Design Competition Winners
Honorable Mention, American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) Leadership in History Awards for Publications
Finalist, American Literary Translators Association 2021 National Translation Award in Poetry
Designed and produced for
The Historic New Orleans Collection
by Nathan W. Moehlmann, Goosepen Studio & Press
As the United States descended into civil war, New Orleans’s century-old community of French-speaking free people of color — wealthy, educated, and influential — struck back against increased racial hostility and erosion of their rights. Their chosen weapon was newsprint. L’Union: mémorial politique, littéraire et progressiste appeared in 1862, succeeded by La Tribune de la Nouvelle-Orléans in 1864.
Collected here for the first time, the poems printed in the newspapers bring to light a network of intimate connections and vibrant dialogue. In verse modeled on French Romantic poetry, more than twenty activist authors wrote poems back and forth to each other before a public audience. Differing in important ways from the tone of the newspapers’ prose, the poetry expands our understanding of the close-knit, politically progressive community of Creole gens de couleur and recovers their contributions to the fight for civil rights in the United States.
The original French poems appear here alongside Clint Bruce’s sensitive English translations, mindful of meaning, meter, and sound. A comprehensive introduction, biographies of the poets, and extensive annotations immerse the reader in Civil War–era Louisiana.