Poet, Seer and Short Story Writer
enry Dumas was a brilliant African American poet, seer and short story writer. Henry was born on July 29, 1934, in Sweet Home, Arkansas. During the 1950s, he served in the Air Force and was stationed in Texas and the Middle East. Writing poetry and short stories consumed him during the 1960s. He studied at City College and Rutgers University, and participated in the civil rights and Black Power movements of his time.
He found inspiration in the African and African American experiences. Some of his fiction employs a style of magic realism, innovative for tis time but quite common nowadays. In 1976, James Baldwin selected his story "Thalia" for the Black Scholar literary prize. Dumas was closely associated with the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s, which championed an aesthetic grounded in the black cultural nationalism. But, in the words of Amiri Baraka, Dumas produced a "a true art form, not twenty 'hate whiteys' and a benediction of sweaty artificial flame, but actual art, real, man, and stunning." All that ended when he was killed in April 1968, at the age of 33, at Manhattan's 125th street station by a New York Transit Authority policeman in a case of "mistaken" identity. Dumas had already completed several manuscripts of poetry and prose, the quality and quantity of which are seldom achieved in one short lifetime.
Henry Dumas the Storyteller
Excerpts from his Ark of Bones and Other Stories