The verses written by the 19th-century potter, David Drake, are some of the most unusual in Southern literature. He wrote them on his pots, inscribing them on the damp clay with a sharp stick; he wrote them while he was in slavery; and, he wrote them when it was against the law in his home state of South Carolina for a slave to be taught to read or to write. They are among the very few words written openly by Southern blacks while they were enslaved.
I list the more than thirty known inscriptions by Dave in my book, Carolina Clay: The Life and Legend of the Slave Potter, Dave (W. W. Norton). I describe them as “his conversation with the world.” Dave has just picked up that conversation again, for a pot bearing a previously unknown verse by him has recently come to light.
The new verse is a wonderful addition to his work. I’ll be telling you what he has to say in my first posting on this site, which will be coming up soon. In the meantime, visit my website to read other verses by Dave and see pictures of his work: www.leonardtodd.com.
Let me know what you think!