Carlene Hatcher Polite

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Carlene Hatcher Polite
Born Carlene Hatcher
(1932-08-28)August 28, 1932
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died December 7, 2009(2009-12-07) (aged 77)
Cheektowaga, New York, United States
Occupation Writer, teacher, dancer
Nationality American
Alma mater Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance
Notable works The Flagellants
Spouse James Patrick (2003–2009)
Children Lila

Carlene Hatcher Polite (August 28, 1932 – December 7, 2009) was an American writer.


Early life[edit]

Carlene Hatcher trained at the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance and then danced professionally from 1955 to 1963 in New York and Detroit. She also worked for civil rights organizations, including the Detroit Council for Human Rights and the NAACP.


In 1964 Polite moved to Paris where her first book The Flagellants was published in French in 1966, and was subsequently published in English in 1967. The book received critical acclaim, with Mel Watkins in The New York Times Book Review stating it was “a complex, scathing and often brilliant depiction of the disintegration of a black couple’s relationship,” and that it “was among the first fictional works by a black woman to focus directly on the theme of the sometimes bitter antagonism between black men and women.”

Polite published her second book Sister X and the Victims of Foul Play, about the investigation into the death of a black nightclub dancer in Paris, in 1975.

Later years[edit]

Polite joined the University at Buffalo in 1971, where she taught creative writing, African American history and literature until her retirement in 2000. She had tenure bestowed upon her and served on several notable committees, as well as chaired the American Studies Department for a short while. She was famous at the University for her amiable teaching style, unique and stylish garments that she wore everyday as well as her near encyclopedic knowledge of a wide breadth of subjects including: race, gender, history, sexuality, spirituality, religion, quantum mechanics, sports and theater. Her classroom assignments often centered on books such as The African Origin of Civilization by Cheikh Diop, Stolen Legacy by James and countless others. Her writing assignments included four standard papers, 1 page each that served as mid-term and final papers---centering on being in love, falling out of love and having a student write about being the opposite gender. In her tenure at the University she only had two Teacher's Assistants (John Ransom and Brian Kyle Doyle (née Kyle Phoenix) feeling that their personal abilities and writing interest as well as knowledge were sufficient to serve her classrooms needs. Ms. Polite decided that she had completed all that she had to say in fiction and purposefully did not publish anything else though she continued to write fiction and non-fiction and was an avid fan of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Gabriel Garcia-Marquez's work.


  • Polite, Carlene Hatcher (1966). The Flagellants. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0-374-52656-7. 
  • Polite, Carlene Hatcher (1975). Sister X and the Victims of Foul Play. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0-374-26521-6.