Getting Vernacular Right

I’m still looking at Carolyn M. Rodgers’ work. I chose (Well, actually Rodgers was assigned to me from a list of four poets I asked if I could write about.) to write an entry about Carolyn M. Rodgers because I vaguely remembered liking her poems when I took Black literature courses at NC A&T State University. (I think Dr. Joseph Benson taught the class.) Anyway, I remember wondering what poets like Rodgers were talking about, especially since most of the time they used alternate spellings and tried to imitate the way English was actually spoken by some people. It’s peculiar how some critics criticized Rodgers for getting “street talk” wrong. How do you get it wrong if you’re trying to record what YOUR ears hear? I know some people intimately that if I tried to write dialogue as I hear it coming from their mouths some critics might accuse me of getting black vernacular wrong. But the fact is I don’t think there is one all-encompassing black vernacular because I haven’t read a book yet that really captures how people I know speak. That is not to say that the books I’ve read with vernacular in them do not include some of the pronunciations I heard growing up, because they do. But I’ve never read a book that includes the word yessteedy instead of yesterday; deady instead of daddy, or Mer instead of Mary, and so on. I’m not saying this is black vernacular because it might just purely be regional dialect. I’m not a linguist. Maybe some of the language in Sheila P. Moses’s Legend of Buddy Bush comes close to what I heard growing up. It’s set in Rich Square, NC, not too far from my hometown.