Shadows on the Wall: The Life and Work of Howard Weeden

by Frances C. Roberts and Sarah Huff Fisk
Copyright 1962
Checked out 6 times in 45 years
Last checked out 21 years ago

This is a historically fascinating book of portraits and poems whose subjects are ex-slaves from the end of the 19th Century and the turn of the 20th Century. The name Howard is misleading since the painter and poet was not a man but a woman of that name. Though Weeden was a white woman, the poems are rendered in dialect because each is intended to be the spoken words of the person in the picture. However, they are not dense dialect and are easily readable.

The poor circulation of this volume isn’t surprising considering the historical nature of the subject matter. But that historical value requires that it remain on the shelf, especially since the artist/poet is from nearby Huntsville. Portraiture was really her great talent  and it’s a shame the library doesn’t have a volume in the art section that contains color editions of her work. This book offers only a few at the back while the ones accompanying the poems are rendered in black and white. In color, they are much richer and though there are some moving poems here, it’s the portraits that are the stars. See a few here at the website of her home place.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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2 Responses to Shadows on the Wall: The Life and Work of Howard Weeden

  1. Tim Lundmark says:

    I need some help. I self-published two poetry books “Yin” and “Yang” and I am looking for a site or two to do a review. Any help would be great

    • Hi Tim,

      I’d be happy to take a look at your books. Do you have hard copies you can send to me? Include a self-addressed stamped envelope and I’ll be glad to return them. Or if you have them in electronic form pass them to me that way ( I know I’m not the only one feeling pinched financially these days.

      Best, Jen

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