One thought on “The Negro Speaks of Rivers

  1. Ann Parker says:

    I was privileged to hear a panel discussion at the Tucson Festival of Books in March of 2011 that featured the incredible talent of E. B. Lewis, David Wiesner and Eric Rohmann and that was moderated by Chris Gall, a brilliant artist as well. One of the most memorable discussions to me during this panel was when Wiesner and Rohmann both turned to Lewis and told him that they were in awe of his talent because he worked exclusively in watercolor, the most unforgiving of all art forms. Lewis in turn said that he was intimidated by Wiesner and Rohmann because they wrote AND illustrated books. He said he tried one time to do so, but he couldn’t figure out whether to write the words first or draw the paintings first. Well, in The Negro Speaks of Rivers, rather than writing his own story, Lewis relies on a beautiful poem by Langston Hughes that is at once a tribute to the enduring spirit of African Americans and a history lesson in the connection between them and water. Particularly interesting is the fact that Lewis painted himself into one of the pictures, because he read the poem so many times he felt a part of it. The paintings are gorgeous, the poetry sublime, and together they are magical.

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