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The Banjo Player by Fenton Johnson | Poets.Org

The Banjo Player
by Fenton Johnson


There is music in me, the music of a peasant people.

I wander through the levee, picking my banjo and singing my songs of

the cabin and the field. At the Last Chance Saloon I am as welcome

as the violets in March; there is always food and drink for me there,

and the dimes of those who love honest music. Behind the railroad

tracks the little children clap their hands and love me as they love Kris


But I fear that I am a failure. Last night a woman called me a

troubadour. What is a troubadour?


About This Poem

Fenton Johnson wrote "The Banjo Player" as part of a series of persona poems entitled African Nights, which was intended to form the core of his fourth collection of poetry. The finished collection, however, was never published.
Fenton Johnson was born in Chicago, Illinois, on May 7, 1888. Johnson was a heavily anthologized poet, as well as a playwright and member of the Work Progress Administration's Federal Writers' Project during the Great Depression. He died in 1958.
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