One last word Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance

Nikki Grimes

Book - 2017

"In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance -- including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era -- by combining their work with her own original poetry. Using "The Golden Shovel" poetic method, Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is as gorgeous as it is thought-provoking. This special book also includes original artwork in full-color from some of today's most exciting African American illustrators, who have created pieces of art based on Nikki's original poems. Featuring art by: Cozbi Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Nikki Grimes, E. B. Lewis, ...Frank Morrison, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon. A foreword, an introduction to the history of the Harlem Renaissance, author's note, poet biographies, and index makes this not only a book to cherish, but a wonderful resource and reference as well"--

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room j811/Grimes Checked In
New York : Bloomsbury 2017.
Main Author
Nikki Grimes (author)
Other Authors
Cozbi A. Cabrera (illustrator)
Physical Description
120 pages : color illustrations ; 20 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 116-117) and index.
  • Emergency measure / by Nikki Grimes
  • Storm ending / by Jean Toomer
  • Truth / by Nikki Grimes
  • Life and death / by Clara Ann Thompson
  • Crucible of champions / by Nikki Grimes
  • For a poet / by Countee Cullen
  • A safe place / by Nikki Grimes
  • Calling dreams / by Georgia Douglas Johnson
  • The sculptor / by Nikki Grimes
  • We wear the mask / by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • Jabari unmasked / by Nikki Grimes
  • Mother to son / by Langston Hughes
  • Lessons / by Nikki Grimes
  • As the eagle soars / by Jean Toomer
  • No hamsters here / by Nikki Grimes
  • An excerpt from To Usward / by Gwendolyn Bennett
  • In search of a superpower / by Nikki Grimes
  • Hope / by Georgia Douglas Johnson
  • On bully patrol / by Nikki Grimes
  • The negro speaks of rivers / by Langston Hughes
  • David's old soul / by Nikki Grimes
  • To a dark girl / by Gwendlyn Bennett
  • Through the eyes of artists / by Nikki Grimes
  • Common dust / by Georgia Douglas Johnson
  • A dark date for Josh / by Nikki Grimes
  • No images / by Waring Cuney
  • Blurred beauty / by Nikki Grimes
  • The minor key / by Clara Ann Thompson
  • Common denominator / by Nikki Grimes
  • I leave the glory days / by Nikki Grimes.
Review by New York Times Review

In their brevity and directness, poems and photographs have much in common, Alexander points out in a note in this striking collaborative book. Sartore's up-close photographs of animals in need of protection, each elegantly set against a pure white or black background, are a plea for respect - and help. So is the spare poetry that wends through them, written in a loose haiku style and emphasizing all we humans share with animals. The words cut deep: "Remember, we are part of forever." A SONG ABOUT MYSELF Poem by John Keats. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. 40 pp. Candlewick. $17.99. (Picture book; ages 6 to 9) "There was a naughty Boy, /A naughty Boy was he." So begins a charming trifle the Romantic poet Keats included in a letter to his younger sister. With the Caldecott medalist Raschka's always enjoyable watercolor art, the puckish little poem makes an effervescent picture book. The boy has run "away to Scotland / The people for to see." Recounting the adventurous trip, he also catalogs his own wicked ways: "For nothing would he do / But scribble poetry." Be still my beating heart! BRAVO! Poems About Amazing Hispanics By Margarita Engle. Illustrated by Rafael López. 48 pp. Godwin/ Holt. $18.99. (Picture book; ages 8 to 12) López's bright portraits of notable Hispanics have the large scale and graphic discipline of poster art, while Engle manages to compress the sweep of a biography into a sharp, compact free-verse poem about each life, from childhood on. Some are famous, like César Chávez and Roberto Clemente. All faced challenges - many gut-wrenching, like Julia de Burgos's near starvation in childhood - and made lasting contributions. ONE LAST WORD Wisdom From the Harlem Renaissance Written and illustrated by Nikki Grimes and others. 119 pp. Bloomsbury. $18.99. (Ages 8 and up) Using the playful "golden shovel" form - a chunk of an older poem anchors a new poem, with one word from the old ending each line of the new - Grimes pays tribute to Harlem Renaissance poets like Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Bennett. Her haunting poems echo and update the earlier poets' themes of struggle, resistance and pride in the face of prejudice. Gorgeous works by 15 black artists, including Javaka Steptoe, the 2017 Caldecott medalist, add to the book's dazzle. OUT OF WONDER By Kwame Alexander, with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth. Illustrated by Ekua Holmes. 32 pp. Candlewick. $16.99. (Middle grade; 8 and up) Any young poet will be heartened by Alexander's reminder that "sometimes our poems sound like they were written by our favorite poets, and that is O.K." The three authors take turns emulating their idols, who include Emily Dickinson, Billy Collins and Terrance Hayes ("Make a paint box out of letters," that poem begins). Complementing the infectious mood of tribute is the spirited mixed-media artwork by Holmes ("Voice of Freedom"), a harmonious riot of color, texture and pattern. ONLINE An expanded visual presentation of this week's column at

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [April 9, 2017]
Review by Booklist Review

Inspired by poets of the Harlem Renaissance, Grimes showcases 15 of their short poems and follows each with one of her own, in which every word in a line, or lines, from the original becomes the last word of a line in the new work. Her poems, drawing from the works of poets such as Paul Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes, add contemporary dimensions to timeless themes, such as growing up in hard times and finding the strength, hope, and courage to carry on. Most of her free-verse poems are written from a kid's point of view, though a few reflect the thoughts and advice of adults. Fourteen accomplished African American illustrators, including many winners of Coretta Scott King illustrator awards or honors, contributed illustrations for Grimes' poems. Though most of the pictures were not available in final form, the two seen in color are strong, distinctive, and vibrant. This anthology has plenty to offer, including effective introductions to Harlem Renaissance poets, well-expressed ideas and images, and, for young writers, a challenging way to turn admiration into inspiration.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

"Can I really find/ fuel for the future/ in the past?" asks Grimes (Words with Wings) in the opening poem of this slim, rich volume. Her answer is a graceful and resounding yes. Using the Golden Shovel poetic form, which borrows words from another poem and uses them at the end of each line in a new piece, Grimes both includes and responds to works from poets of the Harlem Renaissance, including Gwendolyn Bennett, Countee Cullen, and Langston Hughes. Thus, a line from Georgia Douglas Johnson's "Calling Dreams" ("The right to make my dreams come true") provides "anchor words" (highlighted in bold) for Grimes's "The Sculptor," which emphasizes seizing what one desires ("Dreams do not come./ They are carved, muscled into something solid, something true"). Through a chorus of contemporary voices-including proud parents, striving children, and weary but determined elders-Grimes powerfully transposes the original poems' themes of racial bias, hidden inner selves, beauty, and pride into the here and now. Interspersed artwork from African-American artists, including R. Gregory Christie, Brian Pinkney, and Elizabeth Zunon, and brief biographies of each poet flesh out a remarkable dialogue between past and present. Ages 10-14. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 6 Up-In this innovative and powerful compendium, Grimes pairs original poems with classics from the Harlem Renaissance. In a brief historical note on the period, she acknowledges the significance of black artists giving voice to the experiences of black life and cites the continued relevance of the literature of the period in a society that, decades later, still struggles with racial identity and injustice. The author credits as inspiration the messages of hope, perseverance, survival, and positivity she finds in the work of poets like Countee Cullen, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and Langston Hughes, and she, too, explores these themes in her own poems. Furthermore, Grimes brilliantly uses the words of her literary predecessors to structure the book, employing the golden shovel, a form in which the words from selected lines or stanzas are borrowed, only to become the last words of each line in a new poem. The result is not only a beautiful homage to the Harlem Renaissance but also a moving reflection on the African American experience and the resilience of the human spirit: "The past is a ladder/that can help you/keep climbing." In addition, each pair of poems-each of Grimes's works follows the poem that inspired it-is accompanied by a full-color illustration by a prominent African American illustrator. Featured artists include Pat Cummings, E.B. Lewis, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, and Javaka Steptoe, among others, and the back matter contains brief poet and illustrator biographies. VERDICT This unique and extraordinary volume is a first purchase for all middle school poetry collections.-Lauren Strohecker, McKinley Elementary School, Elkins Park, PA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

The vibrancy of the Harlem Renaissance is illuminated in this provocative poetry collection. Grimes's own contemporary-set verse pays tribute to the greats using the unusual Golden Shovel form, in which each line of her poem ends with one of the words in a line from the original. Themes include self-pride, aspirations, and bullying. Fifteen black artists offer absorbing and engaging artistic interpretations. Bib., ind. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Timely and thought-provoking, Grimes collection transports young readers through the enduring expressiveness of the Harlem Renaissance, juxtaposing classic poems of the era with her own original work and full-color art by contemporary African-American illustrators. Grimes choice of form, the Golden Shovel poem, does the magic of weaving generations of black verbal artistry into a useful, thematic, golden thread. A challenge indeed, the structure demands taking either a short poem in its entirety or a line from that poem, known as a striking line, in order to serve as the foundation for a new poem in which each line ends with one word from the original. With this, the classic opening line of Jean Toomers Storm Ending (Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads) is reinvigorated within new verse as Grimes reminds young readers that The truth is, every day we rise is like thunder / a clap of surprise. Could be echoes of trouble, or blossoms / of blessing. Grimes joins the work of historic black wordsmiths such as Georgia Douglas Johnson, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, plus the less-anthologized yet incredibly insightful Gwendolyn Bennett and Clara Ann Thompson, with her contemporary characters and thematic entanglements to bring forth a Harlem Renaissance that is as close to the present as the weight of injustice and unfulfilled promise that they spoke through. This striking, passionate anthology reminds young readers and adult fans of poetry alike that while black life remains no crystal stair, there remains reason to hope and a reserve of courage from which to draw. (historical note, authors notes, biographies, sources, index) (Poetry. 10 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.