James Weldon Johnson: God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse

(646 words)

God’s Trombones (1927) is the most original book of poetry written by James Weldon Johnson. In this unified collection of free verse, Johnson attempted to capture the spirit and rhetoric of the African American preacher. The book’s subtitle, “Seven Negro Sermons in Verse”, suggests the scope of the work.

In his preface, Johnson sketches the traits of the preachers whose sermons he was attempting to convey in his art: “The old-time Negro preacher of parts was above all an orator, and in good measure an actor. He knew the secret of oratory, that at bottom it is a progression of rhythmic words more than anything else. [. . .] His language was not prose but poetry”. Writing without the use of dialect, Johnson a…

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Fleming, Robert E.. "God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 October 2003
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=4955, accessed 25 September 2016.]