Cataloging of Tom Dent Library completed

Poet and playwright Tom Dent.

Poet and playwright
Tom Dent.

When authors are asked “What makes a good writer?”, a common answer is “A good writer starts as a good reader.” This oft-quoted maxim is an excellent way to describe the relationship between poet and playwright Tom Dent and his personal library, which is housed at the Amistad Research Center along with Dent’s personal papers. The cataloging of Dent’s library, totaling over 1560 titles, was recently completed by cataloger Laura Chilton.

Rather than a collection consisting solely of “high spots” of African American literarture and history, Dent’s collection is a working library that reflects his associations with a variety of fellow writers and publishers, his interests in music and modernist drama, and served as resource for Dent’s research and writing. The collection is particularly strong in African American small press publishers, such as Dudley Randall’s Broadside Press, Haki R. Madhubuti’s Third World Press, and Naomi Long Madgett’s Lotus Press, and greatly expands Amistad’s holding by these seminal publishers of African American poetry and prose.

Inscription from artist Tom Feelings to Tom Dent in Dent's copy of Feelings' The Middle Passage.

Inscription from artist Tom Feelings to
Tom Dent in Dent’s copy of Feelings’ The Middle Passage.

A number of the books contain Dent’s annotations, which provide insight into Dent’s use and analysis of the books he owned, as well as inscriptions from friends and fellow authors, such as Felipe Smith, Andrew Young, Alvin Aubert, Tom Feelings, Kamau Brathwaite, Kalamu ya Salaam, Jerry Ward, Lorenzo Thomas, and others.

The Tom Dent Library is cataloged in Tulane University’s library catalog and can be located by performing a keyword search using the term “Dent Thomas C former owner” in quotation marks.A number of the books contain Dent’s annotations, which provide insight into Dent’s use and analysis of the books he owned, as well as inscriptions from friends and fellow authors, such as Felipe Smith, Andrew Young, Alvin Aubert, Tom Feelings, Kamau Brathwaite, Kalamu ya Salaam, Jerry Ward, Lorenzo Thomas, and others.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Top image from the Tom Dent Papers. Bottom image from the Amistad Research Center. May not be reproduced without permission.)

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