Chords and Discords by Walter Everette Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hawkins is a quiet gem of the Renaissance era. His selection “Here and Hereafter” is perhaps poetic theme music for my present life journey. I am delighted to have found it. I came by his work first in a John G. Jackson lecture on the history of freethinkers in the black community. There was another version of “Here and Hereafter” which had been referenced as being written for the Poetry Corner in “The Messenger” magazine as printed by A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen. What great delight befell me when I discovered that this text, Chords and Discords, had been made available to the public domain and subsequently digitized by Google Books as I was anxious to read more of his work.
This text which is ostensibly the only one ever compiled by Hawkins seems to be a collection of all of his writings at that point in his life because one can sense the forward journey through artistic engagement with the supernatural and then sudden bursts of expression where he declares firmly his adherence to no creed or manufactured system of beliefs. These bursts lend themselves to great moments in freethought literature such as the aforementioned “Here and Hereafter”, “Too Much Religion”, “A Festival In Christendom”, and “Evolution”. In between, we find moments accented by other standard poetry fare such as selections on love, childhood, longing, and self exploration. In all, it is a delightful and brisk read for any one interested in the freethought literature of that era.