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Margaret Danner, a Black writer, was born on this date in 1915.
Born in Kentucky, Danner and her parents moved to Chicago when she was young. When Margaret Esse Danner was in the eighth grade, she wrote her first prize-winning poem, "The Violin." Although it would be many years before her first book of poetry was published, the image and theme of the violin reappeared many times in later works.
She attended Loyola and Northwestern Universities and began her association with prominent writers partly through her affiliation with the avant-garde magazine Poetry: The Magazine of Verse, where she eventually became assistant editor. In 1945, Danner won second prize in the Poetry Workshop of the Midwestern Writers Conference.
In the early 1960s she moved to Detroit to become poet-in-residence at Wayne State University where she established Boone House, an arts center for children. In collaboration with poet Dudley Randall, he and Danner published "Poem Counterpoem" in 1966, a volume of Black poetry. That same year she traveled to Africa to read her poetry and found inspiration for future poems grounded in an African aesthetic. Critics believe these works are her best work.
She also became the Poet-in-Residence at LeMoyne Owen College in Memphis. Margaret Danner continued to edit poetry anthologies and produced two more volumes of poetry before she died in Chicago in 1986.
Tennessee State Library and Archives,
403 Seventh Avenue North,
Nashville, TN 37243,
Image by Robert Guinan