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The Story Behind "Black Infinity"


Through her art, career, and life, Adele V. Holden (1919-2005) promoted equal rights while shaping the minds of young people.

Born on the racially segregated Eastern Shore in 1919, Adele grew up in Pocomoke City, Maryland, during the Great Depression, a time when the state’s final lynchings were taking place in nearby towns. She attended Morgan State College and Johns Hopkins University, where she was an early student of Writing Seminars founder Elliott Coleman. Adele dedicated her energy to educating young people as a devoted English teacher at Dunbar High School and the Community College of Baltimore. She published a collection of poetry in 1961, Figurine, and nearly forty years later her second book, the memoir Down on the Shore: The Family and Place that Forged a Poet’s Voice.

Adele and her editor criss-crossed the region promoting the widely-praised book, forming a relationship that lasted until her death in 2005. She willed the car in which they traveled—an otherwise barely-used black Infiniti—to that editor, who donated it to CityLit Project to establish a prize in her honor. While Black Infinity references that car, it also represents Adele V. Holden’s belief in young people, poetry, education, and equal rights for all.

The complete story was published in City Paper in May 2008 and can be read by clicking the PDF link below. Okan Arabacioglu created the illustration that accompanied the piece, and which appears above right.
Click here to download PDF

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