Pinson, Hermine 1953-

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Pinson, Hermine 1953-
(Hermine Dolorez Pinson)


Born July 20, 1953, in Beaumont, TX; daughter of Robert B. (a surgeon) and Enid (a schoolteacher) Harris; married Donald E. Pinson (a pretrial officer), September 10, 1976; children: Leah Courtney. Ethnicity: "African American." Education: Fisk University, B.A., 1975; Southern Methodist University, M.A., 1979; Rice University, Ph.D., 1991.


Office—Department of English, College of William and Mary, Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23185-8795. E-mail—[email protected]


Houston Community College, Houston, TX, teacher, 1977-79; Texas Southern University, Houston, assistant professor, 1979-92; College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, associate professor of English, 1992—. University of Michigan, King, Chavez, Parks Visiting Professor.


Modern Language Association of America, American Literature Association, Academy of American Poets, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, South Central Modern Language Association, Southern Conference on African-American Studies.


Fellow, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1988, Ford Foundation, 1991, Yaddo Colony, 1996, MacDowell Colony, 1996, Vermont Studio Center, 1997, and Byrdcliffe Colony, 1999; resident fellow, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.


Ashe (poetry), Wings Press (Houston, TX), 1992.

Mama Yetta and Other Poems, Wings Press (Houston, TX), 1999.

(Editor, with Kimberley Phillips, Hanna Wallinger, and Lorenzo Thomas) Critical Voices of Black Liberation, Lit Verlag (London, England), 2003.

Creator (with Yusef Komungakaa and Estella Mojozo) of a compact disc titled Changing the Changes in Poetry and Song. Work represented in anthologies, including Common Bonds: Stories by and about Modern Texas Women, Southern Methodist University Press (Dallas, TX), 1990; Loss of Ground Note: Women Writing about the Death of Their Mothers, Clothespin Fever Press, 1992; and Life Notes, edited by Patricia Bell-Scott, W.W. Norton (New York, NY). Contributor to journals, including America, Callaloo, Sou'wester, African-American Review, and Sage.


Hermine Pinson, author of a doctoral dissertation on the poet Melvin B. Tolson, admits his influence on her verse, not only in allusions to his epics Libretto for the Republic of Liberia and Harlem Gallery, but in the richness of her resourceful and redolent language and in her wide range of reference. Pinson's poems range from the deceptively simple "Sugar's Blues," with its echo of traditional blues lyrics mingled with the onomatopoeic scatting of trains and bebop saxophone solos, to poems like "From Beaumont to Benin" that show the influence of Marianne Moore's refined and distancing imagism: "yes, it can devour the body/like ashes eat a cigarette/by the millimeter."

Pinson's themes run from portraits of strong black women to montage-like renditions of the spectrum of current social problems: urban decay, racial rioting, and the invasion of drugs. Critics have noted that pulsing through her poems is a jazzy vitality and a rhythmic sense of verbal improvisation that propels each poem into a new dimension of feeling, even when the subject of the poem promises to be what is expected. The poetry also is filled with the rhetorics of popular music, the black church, street talk, and the cacophony of media overload, giving her verse a contemporary sound that some reviewers suggest is delightful to read aloud.



Pinson, Hermine, Ashe, Wings Press (Houston, TX), 1992.