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African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song

by Kevin Young (Editor)

Other authors: Chris Abani (Contributor), Hanif Abdurraqib (Contributor), Elizabeth Acevedo (Contributor), Ai (Contributor), Elizabeth Alexander (Contributor)240 more, Lewis Grandison Alexander (Contributor), Will Alexander (Contributor), Samuel Allen (Contributor), Maya Angelou (Contributor), Russell Atkins (Contributor), Cameron Awkward-Rich (Contributor), Benjamin Banneker (Contributor), Amiri Baraka (Contributor), George Barlow (Contributor), Gerald Barrax (Contributor), Quan Barry (Contributor), Paul Beatty (Contributor), James Madison Bell (Contributor), Gwendolyn B. Bennett (Contributor), Joshua Bennett (Contributor), Reginald Dwayne Betts (Contributor), Arna Bontemps (Contributor), William Stanley Braithwaite (Contributor), Kamau Brathwaite (Contributor), Gwendolyn Brooks (Contributor), Jericho Brown (Contributor), Sterling A. Brown (Contributor), Mahogany L. Browne (Contributor), Darrell Burton (Contributor), Olivia Ward Bush (Contributor), Cyrus Cassells (Contributor), Barbara Chase-Riboud (Contributor), Dominique Christina (Contributor), Benjamin Clark (Contributor), Tiana Clark (Contributor), Carrie W. Clifford (Contributor), Lucille Clifton (Contributor), Anita Scott Coleman (Contributor), Wanda Coleman (Contributor), Sam Cornish (Contributor), James D Corrothers (Contributor), Jayne Cortez (Contributor), Joseph Seamon Cotter Jr (Contributor), Joseph Seamon Cotter Sr (Contributor), Mae V. Cowdery (Contributor), Countee Cullen (Contributor), Waring Cuney (Contributor), Pierre Dalcour (Contributor), DéLana R.A. Dameron (Contributor), Margaret Danner (Contributor), Kyle Dargan (Contributor), Frank Marshall Davis (Contributor), Kwame Dawes (Contributor), Julia de Burgos (Contributor), Clarissa Scott Delany (Contributor), Toi Derricotte (Contributor), Joel Dias-Porter (Contributor), Ralph Dickey (Contributor), LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs (Contributor), Melvin Dixon (Contributor), Owen Dodson (Contributor), Rita Dove (Contributor), David Drake (Contributor), W.E.B. Du Bois (Contributor), Henry Dumas (Contributor), Paul Laurence Dunbar (Contributor), Alice Dunbar-Nelson (Contributor), Camille T. Dungy (Contributor), Cornelius Eady (Contributor), Thomas Sayers Ellis (Contributor), Mari Evans (Contributor), Eve L. Ewing (Contributor), Sarah Webster Fabio (Contributor), Jessie Redmon Fauset (Contributor), Julia Fields (Contributor), Nikky Finney (Contributor), Calvin Forbes (Contributor), Sarah Louisa Forten (Contributor), Vievee Francis (Contributor), Ross Gay (Contributor), Danielle Legros Georges (Contributor), Christopher Gilbert (Contributor), Nikki Giovanni (Contributor), Aracelis Girmay (Contributor), C. S. Giscombe (Contributor), Lorna Goodison (Contributor), Rachel Eliza Griffiths (Contributor), Angelina Weld Grimke (Contributor), Charlotte Forten Grimke (Contributor), Nicolás Guillén (Contributor), Forrest Hamer (Contributor), Jupiter Hammon (Contributor), Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (Contributor), Michael S. Harper (Contributor), Duriel E. Harris (Contributor), Walter Everette Hawkins (Contributor), Robert Hayden (Contributor), Terrance Hayes (Contributor), Josephine D. Heard (Contributor), Essex Hemphill (Contributor), David Henderson (Contributor), Safiya Henderson-Holmes (Contributor), Calvin Hernton (Contributor), Sean Hill (Contributor), Harmony Holiday (Contributor), Frank Horne (Contributor), George Moses Horton (Contributor), Langston Hughes (Contributor), Erica Hunt (Contributor), Ishion Hutchinson (Contributor), Gary Jackson (Contributor), Major Jackson (Contributor), Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (Contributor), Tyehimba Jess (Contributor), Eva A. Jessye (Contributor), Ted Joans (Contributor), Fenton Johnson (Contributor), Georgia Douglas Johnson (Contributor), Helene Johnson (Contributor), James Weldon Johnson (Contributor), Gayl Jones (Contributor), Patricia Spears Jones (Contributor), Saeed Jones (Contributor), A. Van Jordan (Contributor), June Jordan (Contributor), Allison Joseph (Contributor), Bob Kaufman (Contributor), Douglas Kearney (Contributor), John Keene (Contributor), Sybil Kein (Contributor), Donika Kelly (Contributor), Dolores Kendrick (Contributor), Keorapetse Kgositsile (Contributor), Etheridge Knight (Contributor), Yusef Komunyakaa (Contributor), Pinkie Gordon Lane (Contributor), Armand Lanusse (Contributor), Rickey Laurentiis (Contributor), Robin Coste Lewis (Contributor), Audre Lorde (Contributor), Nathaniel Mackey (Contributor), Haki Madhubuti (Contributor), Clarence Major (Contributor), George R Margetson (Contributor), Mariposa (Contributor), Dawn Lundy Martin (Contributor), Adrian Matejka (Contributor), Agnes Maxwell-Hall (Contributor), Shara McCallum (Contributor), Shane McCrae (Contributor), Colleen J McElroy (Contributor), Claude McKay (Contributor), Tony Medina (Contributor), Anis Mojgani (Contributor), Aja Monet (Contributor), Myra Estelle Morris (Contributor), Tracie Morris (Contributor), Thylias Moss (Contributor), Fred Moten (Contributor), Harryette Mullen (Contributor), John Murillo (Contributor), Pauli Murray (Contributor), Larry Neal (Contributor), Marilyn Nelson (Contributor), Richard Bruce Nugent (Contributor), Myron O'Higgins (Contributor), Gloria C. Oden (Contributor), Brenda Marie Osbey (Contributor), Gregory Pardlo (Contributor), Morgan Parker (Contributor), Raymond R Patterson (Contributor), Willie Perdomo (Contributor), Carl Phillips (Contributor), Rowan Ricardo Phillips (Contributor), Pedro Pietri (Contributor), Oliver Pitcher (Contributor), Lucia Mae Pitts (Contributor), Ann Plato (Contributor), Sterling D. Plumpp (Contributor), Esther Popel (Contributor), NH Pritchard (Contributor), Khadijah Queen (Contributor), Dudley Randall (Contributor), Camille Rankine (Contributor), Claudia Rankine (Contributor), Henrietta Cordelia Ray (Contributor), Andy Razaf (Contributor), Charles L Reason (Contributor), Ishmael Reed (Contributor), Justin Phillip Reed (Contributor), Roger Reeves (Contributor), Victor-Ernest Rillieux (Contributor), Ed Roberson (Contributor), Carolyn M Rodgers (Contributor), Alison C. Rollins (Contributor), Kate Rushin (Contributor), Sonia Sanchez (Contributor), Gil Scott-Heron (Contributor), Nicole Sealey (Contributor), Tim Seibles (Contributor), Charif Shanahan (Contributor), Ntozake Shange (Contributor), Reginald Shepherd (Contributor), Evie Shockley (Contributor), Safiya Sinclair (Contributor), Clint Smith (Contributor), Danez Smith (Contributor), Lucy E. Smith (Contributor), Patricia Smith (Contributor), Tracy K Smith (Contributor), AB Spellman (Contributor), Anne Spencer (Contributor), Primus St. John (Contributor), Sharan Strange (Contributor), Sekou Sundiata (Contributor), Lucy Terry (Contributor), Camille Thierry (Contributor), Lorenzo Thomas (Contributor), Eloise Bibb Thompson (Contributor), Priscilla Jane Thompson (Contributor), Samantha Thornhill (Contributor), Melvin B. Tolson (Contributor), Jean Toomer (Contributor), Natasha Trethewey (Contributor), Quincy Troupe (Contributor), Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon (Contributor), George B Vashon (Contributor), Derek Walcott (Contributor), Alice Walker (Contributor), Frank X Walker (Contributor), Margaret Walker (Contributor), Anthony Walton (Contributor), Lucian B Watkins (Contributor), Tom Weatherly (Contributor), Afaa Michael Weaver (Contributor), Phillis Wheatley (Contributor), Simone White (Contributor), James Monroe Whitfield (Contributor), Albery Allson Whitman (Contributor), Phillip B. Williams (Contributor), Saul Williams (Contributor), Sherley Anne Williams (Contributor), Jamila Woods (Contributor), Richard Wright (Contributor), Al Young (Contributor)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1734157,178 (4.57)5
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 flourished 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.… (more)
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Across a turbulent history, from such vital centers as Harlem, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and the Bay Area, Black poets created a rich and multifaceted tradition that has been both a reckoning with American realities and an imaginative response to them. Capturing the power and beauty of this diverse tradition in a single indispensable volume, African American Poetry reveals as never before its centrality and its challenge to American poetry and culture. - from the publisher
  PendleHillLibrary | Oct 13, 2023 |
Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
  fernandie | Sep 15, 2022 |
African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song, edited by Kevin Young, is a sweeping anthology that doesn't simply present the poetry but presents a history of the poetry. His introduction does a great job of both presenting the chronology as well as explaining both what is excluded and included. As with any anthology decisions have to be made and Young makes a strong case for why he made the ones he made.

No doubt everyone comes to any anthology with some ideas about what they expect. Those expectations are rarely the goals set by the editor so there is going to be some disconnect. Such is the case for me with this collection, but after reading why the selections were made and, most important, reading any new works I might not have known, I came away quite satisfied.

This anthology is weighted toward the more recent, as in the past sixty years or so. I found this helpful since many of the older works are anthologized far more often. Those complaining about being too recent to be included, well, they have their own agendas. I recall studying Eliot, Frost, Sandburg, Cummings, Williams, and others when I was young and many of those works were well under sixty years old. So what other reason could these people have for complaining about this collection including newer work? Hmmmmm. I think I hear dog whistles.

I highly recommend this to readers of poetry who might recognize that their knowledge and appreciation of African American poetry is limited to the few included in most survey courses. Like any anthology you'll like some and not like some. But they all speak to the reader and the newer ones speak to us about the society we are still living in.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  pomo58 | Dec 20, 2020 |
Library of America's African Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song, edited by Kevin Young, is a mammoth piece of work, essential for anyone interested in the ways poets address the issues of their times. At 1,170 pages, it offers an expansive reading experience. One can, of course, work one's way through it chronologically, not just observing changes is perspective, but also in poetic form. But one can also seek out poems from a specific region or on a specific topic. And it's a great title just for flipping through and reading whatever pieces present themselves. This is the kind of book to keep at one's bedside and savored a bit at a time. ( )
1 vote Sarah-Hope | Sep 20, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Young, KevinEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abani, ChrisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abdurraqib, HanifContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Acevedo, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
AiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, Lewis GrandisonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, WillContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allen, SamuelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Angelou, MayaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Atkins, RussellContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Awkward-Rich, CameronContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Banneker, BenjaminContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baraka, AmiriContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barlow, GeorgeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barrax, GeraldContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barry, QuanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beatty, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bell, James MadisonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Bennett, JoshuaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Bontemps, ArnaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Braithwaite, William StanleyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brathwaite, KamauContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brooks, GwendolynContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brown, JerichoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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 flourished 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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