African American poetry 250 years of struggle & song

Book - 2020

Across a turbulent history, Black poets created a rich and multifaceted tradition that has been both a reckoning with American realities and an imaginative response to them. One of the great American art forms, African American poetry encompasses many kinds of verse: formal, experimental, vernacular, lyric, and protest. The anthology opens with moving testaments to the power of poetry as a means of self-assertion, as enslaved people voice their passionate resistance to slavery. This volume captures the power and beauty of this diverse tradition and its challenge to American poetry and culture. Here are all the significant movements and currents: the nineteenth-century Francophone poets known as Les Cenelles, the Chicago Renaissance that flo...urished around Gwendolyn Brooks, the early 1960s Umbra group, and the more recent work of writers affiliated with Cave Canem and the Dark Noise Collective. Here too are poems of singular, hard-to-classify figures: the enslaved potter David Drake, the allusive modernist Melvin B. Tolson, the Cleveland-based experimentalist Russell Atkins. The volume also features biographies of each poet and notes that illuminate cultural references and allusions to historical events-- adapted from dust jacket.

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2nd Floor 811.008/African Due Aug 6, 2024
New York, N.Y. : The Library of America [2020]
Item Description
Anthology of poems.
Physical Description
lx, 1110 pages ; 21 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Introduction / by Kevin Young
  • Bury me in a free land: 1770-1899
  • Lift every voice: 1900-1918
  • The dark tower: 1919-1936
  • Ballads of remembrance: 1936-1959
  • Ideas of ancestry: 1959-1975
  • Blue light sutras: 1976-1989
  • Praise songs for the day: 1990-2008
  • After the hurricane: 2009-2020
  • ONE: BURY ME IN A FREE LAND 1770-1899. On imagination ; On Recollection ; On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield. 1770 ; To S. M. a young African Painter, on seeing his Works ; To His Excellency General Washington / Phillis Wheatley
  • An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatly, Ethiopian Poetess, in Boston / Jupiter Hammon
  • [Bars Fight] / Lucy Terry
  • A Mathematical Problem in Verse / Benjamin Banneker
  • To Eliza ; The Slave's Complaint ; On hearing of the intention of a gentleman to purchase the Poet's freedom ; Division of an estate ; The Art of a Poet ; George Moses Horton, Myself / George Moses Horton
  • An Appeal to Woman ; The Grave of the Slave / Sarah Louisa Forten
  • Concatination [Selected Pottery Verses, 1834-1862] / David Drake
  • The Natives of America ; Reflections / Ann Plato
  • Armand Lanusse: Epigram ; Camille Thierry Ideas ; Pierre Dalcour: Verse Written in the Album of Mademoiselle _____ ; Victor-Ernest Rillieux: Love and Devotion/ Les Cenelles
  • America ; To Cinque / James M. Whitfield
  • Hope and Confidence / Charles L. Reason
  • A Life-Day / George B. Vashon
  • The Emigrant / Benjamin Clark
  • Song for the First of August / James Madison Bell
  • A June Song ; A Parting Hymn ; In the earnest path of duty / Charlotte Forten Grimḱe
  • Toussaint L'Ouverture ; Self-Mastery / Henrietta Cordelia Ray
  • from The Rape of Florida ; A Question / Albery A. Whitman
  • The Slave Mother ; Bury Me in a Free Land ; Learning to Read ; A Double Standard ; Songs for the People / Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.
  • TWO: LIFT EVERY VOICE 1900-1918. The House of Falling Leaves / William Stanley Braithwaite
  • Driftwood / Olivia Ward Bush
  • America ; Character or Color--Which? ; Late Mother / Carrie Williams Clifford
  • Paul Laurence Dunbar / James D. Corrothers
  • A Prayer ; And What Shall You Say? ; Supplication ; A Woman at Her Husband's Grave / Joseph Seamon Cotter, Jr.
  • Dr. Booker T Washington to the National Negro Business League / Joseph Seamon Cotter, Sr.
  • A Litany at Atlanta / W. E. B. Du Bois
  • We Wear the Mask ; A Negro Love Song ; When Malindy Sings ; When de Co'n Pone's Hot ; An Ante-Bellum Sermon ; Sympathy ; A Death Song ; Compensation / Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • Violets ; I Sit and Sew ; The Proletariat Speaks / Alice Dunbar-Nelson
  • The Black Finger ; A Mona Lisa ; El Beso ; You ; Rosabel ; The Eyes of My Regret ; Trees ; Tenebris ; Grass Fingers ; To Keep the Memory of Charlotte Forten Grimké / Angelina Weld Grimké
  • Wooing ; A Spade Is Just a Spade ; Here and Hereafter / Walter Everette Hawkins
  • Retrospect / Josephine D. Heard
  • When I Die ; The Lonely Mother ; Who Is That A-Walking in the Corn? ; from African Nights / Fenton Johnson
  • Lift Every Voice and Sing ; Sence You Went Away ; O Black and Unknown Bards ; My City ; Go Down Death / James Weldon Johnson
  • from The Fledgling Poet and the Poetry Society / George R. Margetson
  • Ode to the Sun / Eloise Bibb Thompson
  • To a Little Colored Boy / Priscilla Jane Thompson
  • The New Negro / Lucian B. Watkins.
  • THREE: THE DARK TOWER 1919-1936. Japanese Hokku ; Negro Woman ; Effigy / Lewis Grandison Alexander
  • Heritage ; Lines written at the Grave of Alexander Dumas ; Fantasy ; To a Dark Carl ; Dirge for a Free Spirit ; I Build America ; Epitaph / Gwendolyn B. Bennett
  • The Return ; A Black Man Talks of Reaping ; Southern Mansion ; The Day-breakers / Arna Bontemps
  • Ma Rainey ; Old Lem ; Slim Greer ; Strange Legacies ; Southern Cop ; To a Certain Lady, in Her Garden ; Let Us Suppose / Sterling A. Brown
  • Portraiture ; Black Baby ; Impressions from a Family Album ; Coveted Epitaph ; Denial ; Idle Wonder / Anita Scott Coleman
  • Longings ; Goal ; Farewell ; Having Had You ; Four Poems--After the Japanese ; For a New Mother ; I Look at Death / Mae V. Cowdery
  • Yet Do I Marvel ; Incident ; Tableau ; Saturday's Child ; Heritage ; from Epitaphs ; From the Dark Tower ; Uncle Jim ; Scottsboro, Too, Is Worth Its Song / Countee Cullen
  • No Images ; Nineteen-twenty-nine ; My Lord, What a Morning ; Down-Home Boy ; Carry Me Back / Waring Cuney
  • The Mask ; Solace / Clarissa Scott Delany
  • Dead Fires ; La Vie C'est la vie ; Oblivion / Jessie Redmon Fauset
  • My Last Name / Nicolas Guillen
  • Notes Found Near a Suicide / Frank Horne
  • The Negro Speaks of Rivers ; The Weary Blues ; Mother to son ; Jazz Band in a Parisian Cabaret ; Beale Street Love ; Cross ; Personal ; Midwinter Blues ; Bound No'th Blues ; Dream Variations ; I, Too ; Song for a Dark Girl ; Let America be America Again ; from Montage of a Dream Deferred ; Madam and the Rent Man ; from Ask Your Mama / Langston Hughes
  • The Singer ; The Maestro / Eva A. Jessye
  • The Heart of a Woman ; Cosmopolite ; Black Woman ; Old Black Men ; Common Dust ; I Want to Die While You Love Me ; Interracial / Georgia Douglas Johnson
  • Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem ; Poem ; Invocation / Helene Johnson
  • Jamaica Market / Agnes Maxwell-Hall
  • Christmas in de Air ; The Harlem Dancer ; Harlem Shadows ; If We Must Die ; On Broadway ; The Tropics in New York ; The Lynching ; America ; My Mother ; "The white man is a tiger at my throat" / Claude McKay
  • Man and Maid / Myra Estelle Morris
  • Shadow / Richard Bruce Nugent
  • Requiem ; This Is My Vow / Lucia Mae Pitts
  • October Prayer ; Flag Salute / Esther Popel
  • Black and Blue ; The Tree of Hope / Andy Razaf
  • At the Carnival ; White Things ; Sybil Warns Her Sister / Anne Spencer
  • Five Vignettes ; Her Lips Are Copper Wire ; from Cane ; from Essentials ; Be with Me / Jean Toomer.
  • FOUR: BALLADS OF REMEMBRANCE 1936-1959. To Satch (American Gothic) ; Nat Turner or Let Him Come ; If the Stars Should Fall / Samuel Allen
  • Narrative ; Night and a Distant Church ; It's Here in The ; Spyrytual / Russell Atkins
  • from A Street in Bronzeville ; Beverly Hills, Chicago ; The Bean Eater ; We Real Cool ; A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon ; The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till ; The Chicago Defender Sends a Man to Little Rock ; The Lovers of the Poor ; Malcolm X ; The Second Sermon on the Warpland ; Paul Robeson ; The Life of Lincoln West ; The Boy Died in My Alley ; Infirm ; I Am a Black ; An Old Black Woman, Homeless, and Indistinct / Gwendolyn Brooks
  • To Julia de Burgos ; Ay, Ay, Ay of the Kinky-Haired Negress ; Poem of the Unborn Child ; Farewell in Welfare Island ; The Sun in Welfare Island / Julia de Burgos
  • The Small Bells of Benin ; Etta Moten's Attic / Margaret Danner
  • from Ebony Under Granite ; Mojo Mike's Beer Garden ; Four Glimpses of Night / Frank Marshall Davis
  • Sorrow Is the Only Faithful One ; The Morning Duke Ellington Praised the Lord and Six Little Black Davids Tapped Danced Unto / Owen Dodson
  • Those Winter Sundays ; Frederick Douglass ; Middle Passage ; Runagate Runagate ; A Letter from Phillis Wheatley ; Paul Laurence Dunbar ; [American Journal] / Robert Hayden
  • The Truth ; Jazz Is My Religion ; The Nice Colored Man / Ted Joans
  • Hawk Lawler: Chorus ; I, Too, Know What I Am Not ; Would You Wear My Eyes? ; War Memoir ; Walking Parker Home ; Crootey Songo ; Heavy Water Blues ; Blues for Hal Waters ; Oregon / Bob Kaufman
  • from Dark Testament ; Prophecy / Pauli Murray
  • A Private Letter to Brazil ; Review from Staten Island ; Man White, Brown Girl and All That Jazz / Gloria C. Oden
  • Young Poet / Myron O'Higgins
  • Harlem Dawn ; A Definition ; Jean-Jaques / Oliver Pitcher
  • Booker T. and W.E.B. ; An Answer to Lerone Bennett's Questionnaire On a Name for Black Americans ; A Poet Is Not a Jukebox / Dudley Randall
  • Ballad of American Mores ; Face of Poverty / Lucy E. Smith
  • Dark Symphony ; from Harlem Gallery, Book I: The Curator / Melvin B. Tolson
  • For My People ; Molly Means ; October Journey / Margaret Walker
  • Between the World and Me ; Selected Haiku / Richard Wright.
  • FIVE: IDEAS OF ANCESTRY 1959-1975. Still I Rise ; Phenomenal Woman / Maya Angelou
  • Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note ; Look for You Yesterday, Here You Come Today ; Notes for a Speech ; The Liar ; Short Speech to My Friends ; Three Modes of History and Culture ; SOS ; Black Art ; Why's 12 / Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones)
  • King: April 4, 1968 / Gerald Barrax
  • Blues ; All God's Chillun ; The White River ; Sam Lord / Kamau Brathwaite
  • "in the inner city" ; miss rosie ; good times ; admonitions ; "being property once myself" ; the lost baby poem ; from some jesus ; cutting greens ; homage to my hips ; "the light that came to lucille clifton" ; jasper texas 1998 ; why some people be mad at me sometimes ; "i am accused of tending to the past" ; Jump Rope Rhymes (transcribed) ; study the masters ; to my last period ; wishes for sons ; "surely i am able to write poems" ; "won't you celebrate with me" / Lucille Clifton
  • How Long Has Trane Been Gone ; Orisha ; Rape ; Jazz Fan Looks Back / Jayne Cortez
  • Son of Msippi ; Black Star Line ; Outer Space Blues / Henry Dumas
  • I Am a Black Woman / Mari Evans
  • I Would Be for You Rain / Sarah Webster Fabio
  • High on the Hog / Julia Fields
  • Black Power ; Nikki-Rosa ; For Saundra ; Ego Tripping ; A Poem for Carol ; Legacies / Nikki Giovanni
  • American History ; Dear John, Dear Coltrane ; Nightmare Begins Responsibility ; Reuben, Reuben ; Tongue-Tied in Black and White ; Last Affair: Bessie's Blues Song ; The Love Letters of Helen Pitts Douglass / Michael S. Harper
  • Do Nothing till You Hear from Me ; A Coltrane Memorial / David Henderson
  • Medicine Man / Calvin Hernton
  • What Would I Do White? ; These Poems ; I Must Become a Menace to My Enemies ; Poem about My Rights ; Poem for Haruko / June Jordan
  • Blues for Some Literary Friends & Myself ; For Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers / Keorapetse Kgositsile
  • A Poem for Myself ; The Idea of Ancestry ; The Bones of My Father ; Haiku ; For Freckle-Faced Gerald ; The Violent Space ; Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminal Insane ; For Eric Dolphy ; Feeling Fucked Up / Etheridge Knight
  • On Being Head of the English Department / PInkie Gordon Lane
  • Coal ; Revolution Is One Form of Social Change ; A Litany for Survival ; Power ; Lunar Eclipse ; Inheritance--His / Audre Lorde
  • But He Was Cool ; Don't Cry, Scream / Haki Madhubuti (Don L. Lee)
  • Swallow the Lake ; Hair / Clarence Major
  • Malcolm X--An Autobiography ; Don't Say Goodbye to the Porkpie Hat / Larry Neal
  • 26 Ways of Looking at a Black Man / Raymond R. Patterson
  • Howlin Wolf ; Big Maybelle / Sterling D. Plumpp ; From Where the Blues? ; "WE NEED" ; " ; Metagnomy / N. H. Pritchard
  • Beware: Do Not Read This Poem ; Paul Laurence Dunbar in the Tenderloin ; The Reactionary Poet / Ishmael Reed
  • sonnet ; poll ; the poor houses ; Othello Jones dresses for dinner ; American Jazz Quartet / Ed Roberson
  • how i got ovah / Carolyn Rodgers
  • for our lady ; A Poem for My Father ; A poem for my brother ; from Philadelphia: Spring, 1985 ; haiku (for Osage ave and Doorknop) ; haiku (for mungu and morani and the children of soweto) ; two haiku (for Clarence H. Watson and The Count) ; tanka (for papa Joe Jones who used to toss me up to the sky) ; haiku (for domestic workers in the african diaspora) ; haiku ("man. you write me so") ; tanka ("like dark old men the") ; haiku ("like ermine when i") ; haiku ("i want to make you") ; blues ; Song No. 2 / Sonia Sanchez
  • Whitey on the Moon ; The Revolution Will Not Be Televised ; Home Is Where the Hatred Is / Gil Scott-Heron
  • After Vallejo / A. B. Spellman
  • Inauguration ; Song / Lorenzo Thomas
  • One for Charlie Mingus ; Poem for My Father ; After Hearing a Radio Announcement: A Comment on Some Conditions / Quincy Troupe
  • A Far Cry from Africa ; Codicil ; Blues ; from The Schooner Flight ; Sea Canes ; Volcano ; Easter ; from Omeros: Chapter VIII / Derek Walcott
  • Women / Alice Walker
  • blues for franks wooten ; from Maumau American Cantos: Canto 4 / Tom Weatherly
  • How Stars Start ; Dance of the Infidels ; Boogie with O.O. Gabugah ; The Old O.O. Blues ; A Poem for Players / Al Young.
  • SIX: BLUE LIGHT SUTRAS 1976-1989. Twenty-Year Marriage ; I Can't Get Started ; Two Brothers ; The Good Shepherd: Atlanta, 1981 / AI
  • from Haiti / Will Alexander
  • Titta / George Barlow
  • Soul Make a Path Through Shouting ; Sally Hemings to Thomas Jefferson / Cyrus Cassells
  • from Portrait of a Nude Woman as Cleopatra / Barbara Chase-Riboud
  • What It Means to Be Dark ; Mastectomy ; from American Sonnets / Wanda Coleman
  • Harriet in the Promised Land / Sam Cornish
  • Blackbottom ; The Weakness ; On the Turning Up of Unidentified Black Female Corpses ; Black Boys Play the Classics / Toi Derricotte
  • Leaving Eden ; from The Arcanum Poems ; Father / Ralph Dickey
  • Tour Guide: La Maison des Esclaves ; Turning Forty in the 90's ; Wednesday Mourning ; Heartbeats / Melvin Dixon
  • The House Slave ; David Walker (1785-1830) ; Adolescence--II ; Banneker ; from Thomas and Beulah ; Canary ; The Return of Lieutenant James Reese Europe ; Hattie McDaniel Arrives at the Cocoanut Grove ; from Sonata Mulattica / Rita Dove
  • The Dance ; The Supremes ; from Brutal Imagination / Cornelius Eady
  • Brown Girl Levitation, 1962-1989 ; Concerto no. 7: Condoleezza [working out] at the Watergate / Nikky Finney
  • Some Pieces ; Hand Me Down Blues ; Dark Mirror / Calvin Forbes
  • This Bridge Across ; Time with Stevie Wonder in It ; Chris Gilbert: An Improvisation / Christopher Gilbert
  • Vernacular Examples ; Palaver ; Sotto Voce / C. S. Giscombe
  • For My Mother (May I Inherit Half Her Strength) ; For Claude McKay / Lorna Goodison
  • Goldsboro Narrative #4: My father's Viet Nam tour near over ; Goldsboro Narrative #28 ; Goldsboro Narrative #33 ; Goldsboro Narrative #7 ; Annual Visit of the Quiet, Unmarried Son / Forrest Hamer
  • Heavy Corners ; Civil Servant ; For My Own Protection / Essex Hemphill
  • "C"ing in Colors: Blue / Safiya Henderson-Holmes
  • Surplus Future Imperfect ; Woman, with wings ; Should you find me / Erica Hunt
  • Deep Song / Gayl Jones
  • i done got so thirsty that my mouth waters at the thought of rain / Patricia Spears Jones
  • Fragments from the Diary of Amelie Patiné, Quadroon, Mistress of Monsieur Jacques R _____ / Sybil Kein
  • from The Women of Plums / Dolores Kendrick
  • Annabelle ; More Girl Than Boy ; Letter to Bob Kaufman ; Blue Light Lounge Sutra for the Performance Poets at Harold Park Hotel ; February in Sydney ; from Dien Cai Dau ; Venus's-flytraps ; My Father's Love Letters ; Anodyne ; Ode to the Maggot / Yusef Komunyakaa
  • Falso Brilhante ; Song of the Andoumboulou: 31 / Nathaniel Mackey
  • Gra'ma ; Try to Understand Papa ; Throwing Stones at the All White Pool ; Fade to Black / Colleen J. McElroy
  • Life in a Sterile Environment: A Case Study ; The Day before Kindergarten: Taluca, Alabama, 1959 ; A Reconsideration of the Blackbird ; An Anointing ; Poem for My Mothers and Other Makers of Asafetida ; The Lynching / Thylias Moss
  • from Muse & Drudge ; from Sleeping with the Dictionary / Harryette Mullen
  • A Strange Beautiful Woman ; Sleepless Nights ; Lonely Eagles ; Star-Fix / Marilyn Nelson
  • How I Became the Blues / Brenda Marie Osbey
  • The Broken English Dream / Pedro Pietri
  • The Black Back-Ups / Kate Rushin
  • All the Way Home ; from Dreamer / Primus St. John
  • Trying for Fire / Tim Seibles
  • from for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf / Ntozake Shange
  • Building Nicole's Mama ; Don't Drink the Water / Patricia Smith
  • from Free! / Sekou Sundiata
  • Inside the Blues Whale ; Scrapple ; Washing the car with My Father ; John Henry Sleeping in High Grass / Afaa Michael Weaver
  • from Letters to a New England Negro / Sherley Anne Williams.
  • SEVEN: PRAISE SONGS FOR THE DAY 1990-2008. Blue ; The New Religion / Chris Abani
  • The Venus Hottentot ; Nineteen ; Ars Poetica #28: African Leave-Taking Disorder ; Ars Poetica #100: I Believe ; Praise Song for the Day / Elizabeth Alexander
  • loose strife ; Doug Flutie's 1984 Orange Bowl Hail Mary as Water into Fire / Quan Barry
  • Verbal Mugging / Paul Beatty
  • Prayer of the Backhanded ; Bullet Points ; 'N'em ; Another Elegy ; The Tradition / Jericho Brown
  • A Balance of Blues & Angels / Darrell Burton
  • nap-i-ness / Kyle Dargan
  • Natural ; Black Funk / Kwame Dawes
  • Wednesday Poem / Joel Dias-Porter
  • Frequently Asked Questions #10 / Camille Dungy
  • View of the Library of Congress from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School / Thomas Sayers Ellis
  • Sugar and Brine: Ella's Understanding ; Salt / Vievee Francis
  • burial ; A Small Needful Fact / Ross Gay
  • Santa Ana of Grocery Carts ; Teeth ; Ode to the Little "r" / Aracelis Girmay
  • Seeing the Body / Rachel Eliza Griffiths
  • Black Mary Integrates the School House / Duriel E. Harris
  • Touch ; Satchmo Returns to New Orleans ; The Golden Shovel ; Carp Poem / Terrance Hayes
  • How to Listen ; Euphoria ; Ferguson / Major Jackson
  • The Gospel of Barbecue / Honorée Fannone Jeffers
  • Charity on Blind Tom ; General Bethune on Blind Tom ; Blind Boone's Vision ; Minnehaha / Tyehimba Jess
  • Jesse Owens, 1963 ; Rope / A. Van Jordan
  • Thirty Lines About the Fro ; My Father's Kites / Allison Joseph
  • Drop it Like It's Hottento Venus / Douglas Kearney
  • Hostage / Daniell Legros Georges
  • Plantation ; from Voyage of the Sable Venus ; "Lucy Terry Prince Prepares for Her Marriage" / Robin Coste Lewis
  • Ode to the Diasporican / Mariposa
  • from Good Stock Strange Blood / Dawn Lundy Martin
  • from The Big Smoke ; Robot Music / Adrian Matejka
  • What the Oracle Said / Shara mcCallum
  • The Keepin' It Real Awards / Tony Medina
  • Blackout 1977 / Tracie Morris
  • gayl jones ; cecil taylor ; johnny cash ; I ran from it but was still in it / Fred Moten
  • On Confessionalism / John Murillo
  • Written by Himself ; Raisin / Gregory Pardlo
  • Bembe-Faced ; Arroz con Son y Clave / Willie Perdomo
  • Blue ; Cotillion ; A Great Noise ; Speak Low / Carl Phillips
  • I want to not have to write another word about who cops keep killing / Khadijah Queen
  • from Citizen: An American Lyric / Claudia Rankine
  • The Difficult Music ; The Lucky One ; Hesitation Theory ; My Mother Was No White Dove / Reginald Shepherd
  • from The Lost Letters of Frederick Douglass ; statistical haiku (or, how do they discount us? let me count the ways) ; ode to my blackness / Evie Shockley
  • Don't You Wonder, Sometimes? ; The Universe Is a House Party ; Declaration / Tracy K. Smith
  • Offering ; Snow / Sharan Strange
  • Ode to Gentrification / Samantha Thornhill
  • Flounder ; Drapery Factory, Gulfport, Mississippi, 1956 ; Graveyard Blues ; Pilgrimage ; Miscegenation ; Incident / Natasha Trethewey
  • Strip ; RR Lyrae: Matter / Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
  • Wind Talker ; Work Ethic / Frank X. Walker
  • Dissidence ; Gwendolyn Brooks / Anthony Walton
  • "The reeds shook. A wide flat ass cradled in leather pants. This" / Simone White
  • Amethyst Rocks / Saul Williams
  • Money Road / Kevin Young.
  • EIGHT: AFTER THE HURRICANE 2009-2020. How Can Black People Write about Flowers at a Time Like This / Hanif Abdurraqib
  • La Negra Takes Medusa to the Hair Salon / Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Cento Between the Ending and the End / Cameron Awkward-Rich
  • America Will Be / Joshua Bennett
  • A Postmodern Two-Step / Reginald Dwayne Betts
  • upon viewing the death of basquiat / Mahogany L. Browne
  • Massa's House / Dominique Christina
  • Nashville / Tiana Clark
  • Dear _____, / DeLana R. A. Dameron
  • My First Black Nature Poem(TM) / LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs
  • I saw Emmett Till this week at the grocery store / Eve L. Ewing
  • Aunt Flo and Uncle Phineas / Sean Hill
  • (Afterward) One Corner More / Notes on a Letter to the Singer Abbey Lincoln from Her Lover, Abraham Lincoln / Harmony Holiday
  • After the Hurricane / Ishion Hutchinson
  • Kansas / Gary Jackson
  • Kudzu / Saeed Jones
  • The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feelings / Donika Kelly
  • One Country / Rickey Laurentiis
  • Still When I Picture It the Face of God Is a White Man's Face / Shane McCrae
  • Closer / Anis Mojgani
  • #sayhername / Aja Monet
  • The President's Wife / Morgan Parker
  • Violins / Rowan Ricardo Phillips
  • History / Camille Rankine
  • Black Can Sleep / Justin Phillip Reed
  • Children Listen / Roger Reeves
  • Why Is We Americans / Alison C. Rollins
  • Object Permanence / Nicole Sealey
  • Gnawa Boy, Marrakesh, 1968 / Charif Shanahan
  • Fisherman's Daughter / Safiya Sinclair
  • dinosaurs in the hood / Danez Smith
  • Your National Anthem / Clint Smith
  • Prayer / Phillip B. Williams
  • Ode to Herb Kent / Jamila Woods.
Review by Booklist Review

ldquo;For African Americans, the very act of composing poetry proves a form of protest," writes poet, scholar, and editor Young, director of New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, who presents a defining, glorious, and invaluable anthology of African American poetry that reaches back to 1770 and concludes with today's artistic flourishing in sync with Black Lives Matter. Vitality, beauty, anger, sorrow, humor, and hope all find original, resonant, and consummate expression throughout this expert gathering of works by both celebrated poets and many who will be new to readers, especially women and LGBTQ poets from earlier eras, and all 250 poets are succinctly profiled. Young provides a historical and literary framework in eight chronological sections, each discussed in substantial and enlightening detail in his elegantly composed and dynamic introduction. His coverage includes pivotal creative movements, including not only the Harlem Renaissance, but also the Chicago Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, and such writing collectives as June Jordan's Poetry for the People, Cave Canem, and the Dark Room Collective. In this powerhouse anthology, African American poets are clearly in dialogue with each other across generations, sustaining community. Written under siege both obvious and insidious, their poems engage with every aspect of life while tracking the ongoing quest for equality and justice. A profound and affirming pleasure to read and an imperative resource for every public library.

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

In this necessary and unprecedented anthology, Young (Books of Hours) collects poems by more than 250 poets from the colonial period to the present. Young writes in his introduction that his aim is to provide "a comprehensive look at the centuries of song and struggle that make up African American verse, a legacy that is fruitful and large enough to barely be represented by one volume." And yet this ambitious volume offers an impressive variety of styles and aesthetics, juxtaposing different historical moments to provide a rich, panoramic assembly of voices. Aptly, the book opens with 18th-century poet Phillis Wheatley's "On Imagination," whose lines ask: "Imagination! who can sing thy force?/ Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?" In the sixth section, Essex Hemphill's gorgeous poem "My Protection" begins: "I want to start/ an organization/ to save my life." The final section, "After the Hurricane (2009--2020)," features poems from Hanif Abdurraqib, Reginald Dwayne Bates, Danez Smith, and other young writers. With this monumental work, Young has provided a lasting contribution to historical preservation and poetry. (Oct.)

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

Even readers familiar with the rich tradition of African American poetry will be stunned--stunned--by the breadth of this compilation from Young, who's the perfect man for the job. Not only is he a leading poet and poetry editor of The New Yorker but as director of NYPL's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and soon the Smithsonian's Museum of African American History and Culture, he's an archivist/scholar at heart. The extent of his reach is reflected not only in the number of poets represented--nearly 250--but in their variety. Even the most astute poetry lovers may not know the dozen and a half other poets included with Phillis Wheatley in the book's first section, "Bury Me in a Free Land (1770--1899)"; the work of Fenton Johnson in "Two: Lift Every Voice (1900--1918), who interrupts melodious musings to declare bluntly, "I am tired of building up somebody else's/ civilization"; and the jump rope rhymes gathered by Lucille Clifton in "Five: Ideas of Ancestry 1959--1975." And wise book critics will survey the final section, "Eight: After the Hurricane (2009--2020)," to find poets they may have missed. VERDICT Essential.

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

From the introduction: The Difficult Miracle This is the difficult miracle of Black poetry in America: that we persist, published or not, and loved or unloved: we persist. --June Jordan For over 250 years, African Americans have written and recited and published poetry about beauty and injustice, music and muses, Africa and America, freedoms and foodways, Harlem and history, funk and opera, boredom and longing, jazz and joy. They wrote about what they saw around them and also what they dreamt up--even if it was a dream deferred, derailed, or outright denied. In sonnets and anthems, odes and epics, Black poets in the Americas confronted violence and indifference, legal barriers to reading and writing, illegal suppression of voting rights, and outright threats to their personhood, livelihood, and neighborhoods. They wrote from a world they made and a world that, at times, seemed designed to distract at best, to dis or destroy at worst. For African Americans, the very act of composing poetry proved a form of protest. In this they were participating in a long line of creation, spanning back to the enslaved "Black and Unknown Bards" of the Negro spirituals, who transformed traditions and invented language to describe and change their conditions--and to take pleasure and power in their own inventiveness. African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song captures a quarter-millennia of Black poetry in the Americas from Phillis Wheatley to the present day. Whether we consider that timespan to consist of what June Jordan calls "the difficult miracle of Black poetry in America," what Amiri Baraka names "the changing same," or the pleasure that Toi Derricotte invokes when she says "joy is an act of resistance," this anthology provides a comprehensive look at the centuries of song and struggle that make up African American verse, a legacy that is fruitful and large enough to barely be contained in one volume. Black poetry has always lived beyond books. If Wheatley was first to publish a volume--one she had to go to England to find support for--then the first poem of record by a person of African descent in North America is Lucy Terry's "Bars Fight." Composed orally in 1746, the poem was passed around for generations till first mentioned in print in 1819 and printed in full in 1855, the same year as Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass . Poet Jupiter Hammon published several of his works, often pious, in newspapers and other outlets, starting in 1760; he was the first African American to published poetry in a magazine. But it wasn't till Wheatley that an entire tradition coalesced, and fully began--with her poems addressed to British royalty and then-General Washington, contemplating creativity and creation and a freedom she ultimately would write herself into. This book is organized in eight linked sections. Section One: Bury Me in a Free Land (1770-1899) features a rich array of poets, from Wheatley to Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, all of whom encountered (and wrote against) bondage in some way. Section Two: Lift Every Voice (1900-1918) considers poets from Paul Laurence Dunbar on, and the advent of the New Negro, including W.E.B. DuBois, novelist, poet, and anthologist James Weldon Johnson, poet and playwright Angelina Weld Grimké, and publisher and poet Fenton Johnson, whose prose poems inaugurate a modernist moment. Section Three: The Dark Tower (1919-1936) focuses on the Harlem Renaissance and beyond, especially what James Weldon Johnson in his introduction to Sterling Brown's Southern Road in 1932 called the "Younger Group" of Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Hughes, Toomer, and Brown--a list notably missing any of the terrific women writers of the time, from Gwendolyn B. Bennett, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Anne Spencer, and the neglected by nearly all quarters Mae V. Cowdery, all robustly represented here. Indeed, this Dark Tower argues in its selections for women writers and LGBTQ voices sometimes ignored, and for a Renaissance that stretches from Paris to Philadelphia to D.C. to the American South and Caribbean. Section Four: Ballads of Remembrance (1937-1959) takes us through the Chicago Renaissance of Gwendolyn Brooks and other poets of the wartime and postwar period, considering the period between the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement. The results consider place across the land--from Alabama to Cleveland to New Orleans--and poets whose work too often falls by the wayside. This includes everyone from Beat poet Bob Kaufman to Margaret Walker, the first Black person to win the Yale Younger Poets Prize (and the only one for nearly 70 years afterwards). The second half of the book charts the ongoing boom in Black poetry, starting with the Black Arts Movement featured in Section Five: Ideas of Ancestry (1960-1975) . This intense artistic and political outburst could fill, and has filled, many anthologies, but stands out for its foment in a short, intense period--from Amiri Baraka to Sonia Sanchez--much like the Harlem Renaissance before it. By expanding the period beyond the revolutions and unrest of the 1960s, we discover other poets who wrote alongside the movement, including Jay Wright and Michael S. Harper and Audre Lorde, who continued the work (and outlook) in the decades after, often shaped by Black Arts freedoms but also embracing a multitude of influences. The following Section Six: Blue Light Sutras (1976-1989) continues with poets like Ai, who almost exclusively wrote persona poems, as well as Pulitzer Prize-winners Rita Dove and Yusef Komunyakaa, or Sherley Anne Williams and Christopher Gilbert--all of whom wrote in personal ways about history and its music. These artists came to see that recognizing a multitude of influences, and capturing an array of voices, meant something deeply Black too. The book ends with what is arguably another, more current renaissance, an explosion of talent and culmination of tradition that began appearing in the early 1990s. Sections Seven: Praisesongs for the Day (1990-2010) and Eight: After the Hurricane (2011-2020) consider what appears now two generations of "furious flowering"--borrowing a phrase from Gwendolyn Brooks that became the name of the important festivals and poetry center formed by scholar JoAnne Gabbin in 1994. One is tempted to say that over these last two decades we are newly in a time of writing collectives, but this would be ignoring the presence, going back through time, of June Jordan's Poetry for the People in the 1990s, the Umbra Group in the 1960s, the Black Opals or Saturday Evening Quills of the 1920s, or even groups like Les Cenelles in the nineteenth century. Yet, this tradition found a newfound form in the Dark Room Collective, whose emergence in the late 1980s after the funeral of James Baldwin helped galvanize the current moment and eventually included Natasha Trethewey and Tracy K. Smith, two Pulitzer Prize-winning poets who have also served as U.S. Poets Laureate. They have been joined, in just the Pulitzer alone, by Tyehimba Jess and Gregory Pardlo--representative of increased and overdue recognition African American excellence. As a kind of coda, this book's final, eighth section can only hope to provide a representation and overview of our current moment and mood, whose vibrancy and varied voices follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of years (and pages) before. One selection per poet can merely hint at the new songs being written, the struggles always underway, and those yet to come. Excerpted from African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song (LOA #333): A Library of America Anthology All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.