THOMAS DENT 2018-08-06T13:44:12-05:00

Project Description

THE ICON: Thomas Dent

THE LEGACY: Tom Dent was a lot of things: a poet and playwright, an activist and essayist, a mentor and historian. But above all, he was a thinker, and he spent his life sharing those thoughts — including, notably, his reflections on his experiences at the center of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s — with as many people as possible. A key figure in the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and 1970s, he founded and organized literary journals, he led the Free Southern Theater and he helped start the Umbra writers collective in New York, among other accomplishments. In the process, he became one of New Orleans’ leading literary figures of his era — and the man whom writer Tom Feelings labelled “the know-it poet … a long-distance runner for the people.”

THE ARTIST: Jeremy Paten

THE INSPIRATION: “Tom’s work was important because he was able to look at New Orleans culture and history as an insider and an outsider. Tom was both a son of New Orleans and a son of the South. He saw New Orleans differently from those whose families have lived here for generations. He saw it with affection and a critical eye.” — poet Brenda Marie Osbey, about her friend Tom Dent