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The Vintage Book of African American Poetry

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In The Vintage Book of African American Poetry, editors Michael S. Harper and Anthony Walton present the definitive collection of black verse in the United States--200 years of vision, struggle, power, beauty, and triumph from 52 outstanding poets. From the neoclassical stylings of slave-born Phillis Wheatley to the wistful lyricism of Paul Lawrence Dunbar . . . the rigorou In The Vintage Book of African American Poetry, editors Michael S. Harper and Anthony Walton present the definitive collection of black verse in the United States--200 years of vision, struggle, power, beauty, and triumph from 52 outstanding poets. From the neoclassical stylings of slave-born Phillis Wheatley to the wistful lyricism of Paul Lawrence Dunbar . . . the rigorous wisdom of Gwendolyn Brooks...the chiseled modernism of Robert Hayden...the extraordinary prosody of Sterling A. Brown...the breathtaking, expansive narratives of Rita Dove...the plaintive rhapsodies of an imprisoned Elderidge Knight . . . The postmodern artistry of Yusef Komunyaka.  Here, too, is a landmark exploration of lesser-known artists whose efforts birthed the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts movements--and changed forever our national literature and the course of America itself. Meticulously researched, thoughtfully structured, The Vintage Book of African-American Poetry is a collection of inestimable value to students, educators, and all those interested in the ever-evolving tradition that is American poetry.


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In The Vintage Book of African American Poetry, editors Michael S. Harper and Anthony Walton present the definitive collection of black verse in the United States--200 years of vision, struggle, power, beauty, and triumph from 52 outstanding poets. From the neoclassical stylings of slave-born Phillis Wheatley to the wistful lyricism of Paul Lawrence Dunbar . . . the rigorou In The Vintage Book of African American Poetry, editors Michael S. Harper and Anthony Walton present the definitive collection of black verse in the United States--200 years of vision, struggle, power, beauty, and triumph from 52 outstanding poets. From the neoclassical stylings of slave-born Phillis Wheatley to the wistful lyricism of Paul Lawrence Dunbar . . . the rigorous wisdom of Gwendolyn Brooks...the chiseled modernism of Robert Hayden...the extraordinary prosody of Sterling A. Brown...the breathtaking, expansive narratives of Rita Dove...the plaintive rhapsodies of an imprisoned Elderidge Knight . . . The postmodern artistry of Yusef Komunyaka.  Here, too, is a landmark exploration of lesser-known artists whose efforts birthed the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts movements--and changed forever our national literature and the course of America itself. Meticulously researched, thoughtfully structured, The Vintage Book of African-American Poetry is a collection of inestimable value to students, educators, and all those interested in the ever-evolving tradition that is American poetry.

30 review for The Vintage Book of African American Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tai Harris

    I enjoyed reading this beautiful collection of 50 accomplished African- American poets whose writing has played a major part in shaping my own poetry. Comprised in this book are writing styles of beat poetry, haikus, lyrical and other English inspired forms. This collection is a diverse compilation of works that speak of struggle, beauty, hope and ambition from writers dating back to as early as the 1920’s. Before each set of poems, there is a biographical introduction of each poet which aids in I enjoyed reading this beautiful collection of 50 accomplished African- American poets whose writing has played a major part in shaping my own poetry. Comprised in this book are writing styles of beat poetry, haikus, lyrical and other English inspired forms. This collection is a diverse compilation of works that speak of struggle, beauty, hope and ambition from writers dating back to as early as the 1920’s. Before each set of poems, there is a biographical introduction of each poet which aids in connecting the political and social climate in which each piece was written. “In Madam and the Rent Man” Hughes speaks to the living conditions and expectations African-Americans experienced. He gives a strong voice to Black women who were, at that time, ignored and/or dismissed. In my own writing I hope I address social issues that bring a voice to those silenced by injustice just as Hughes did. Reading all of this poetry has helped me work on creating strong voices as well as aided me in developing well rounded characters.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael Blackmore

    Pretty good anthology, but like with all anthologies (especially those cover periods of time) it can be hit or miss. The earliest poetry in the collection was a bit difficult to read since it was by actual slaves and often expressing "gratitude" for being taken from Africa, which I imagine was the only way their owners would let them publish it. But as the times advanced you had more free African Americans and post slavery ones sharing their views and the poetry becomes powerful. I have to admit Pretty good anthology, but like with all anthologies (especially those cover periods of time) it can be hit or miss. The earliest poetry in the collection was a bit difficult to read since it was by actual slaves and often expressing "gratitude" for being taken from Africa, which I imagine was the only way their owners would let them publish it. But as the times advanced you had more free African Americans and post slavery ones sharing their views and the poetry becomes powerful. I have to admit I'm most fond (with the occasional ones I liked before and after) with the poets who were part of the Harlem Renaissance. I wonder if there is an anthology of writers from that? Some of the more contemporary poets simply don't work for me as well. Still a good collection and probably a great place to start for folks interested in these writings.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    This is an anthology of black talent through the years and across the country. I found it interesting when certain parallels surface such as attending a certain school, sharing common influences, or even certain images repeating in the work. I also admire the different writing styles, from how words are arranged on a page, to how a poem is used...whether its to describe a moment in time, celebrate a person who has passed, or just reflect on the current state of society.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael Mingo

    In addition to some of my favorite poets (Countee Cullen, Yusef Komunyakaa), this anthology includes a number of writers I would sorely like to read more from (Frances E. W. Harper, Elizabeth Alexander).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    A fine survey of interesting poets. Most are represented with several examples, along with some biographical information.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This book has a wide range of poems from former slaves and is very interesting to read. It shows how much passion these men and women had for poetry by learning things behind their masters backs.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    I'm leaving this un-starred because it feels weird to me to "rate" a historical anthology of poetry. Some of the poems viscerally moved me and some of them I don't connect with, but that has been my experience with poetry in general. I'm glad this book exists and that Bunmi Laditan of "Honest Toddler" fame recommended it on Twitter. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Paul Laurence Dunbar and Georgia Douglas Johnson. I'm leaving this un-starred because it feels weird to me to "rate" a historical anthology of poetry. Some of the poems viscerally moved me and some of them I don't connect with, but that has been my experience with poetry in general. I'm glad this book exists and that Bunmi Laditan of "Honest Toddler" fame recommended it on Twitter. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Paul Laurence Dunbar and Georgia Douglas Johnson.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Corman

    If you can’t be free, be a mystery -Rita Dove, "Canary"

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear the Mask,” is included in "The Vintage Book of African American Poetry." This poem portrays the false outward appearance African Americans had to portray in a racist country. While this poem was written about the adversity slaves faced every day in America, the message of this poem can be applied to various situations today. Those who are oppressed often hide or silently struggle, as the majority is often the oppressor. This poem resonates with anyone who ha Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear the Mask,” is included in "The Vintage Book of African American Poetry." This poem portrays the false outward appearance African Americans had to portray in a racist country. While this poem was written about the adversity slaves faced every day in America, the message of this poem can be applied to various situations today. Those who are oppressed often hide or silently struggle, as the majority is often the oppressor. This poem resonates with anyone who has felt oppressed or has had to hide from his or her own identity. “We Wear the Mask” could be used as a mentor text before discussing other texts that display discrimination, adversity, or hatred. This text could be used when discussing slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, the Holocaust, and many other moments in history when minorities suffered from the actions or thoughts of the majority. I would enjoy introducing “We Wear the Mask” to my students, as it is a powerful poem with an important, insightful message.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Tremolo. Dexter comes back to rest / behind my eyelids. A loneliness / lingers like a silver needle / under my black skin, / as I try to feel how it is / to scream for help through a horn.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

  12. 4 out of 5

    MG Hardie

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eliana

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sam Albala

  17. 4 out of 5

    alise

  18. 5 out of 5

    S. Donovan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lorilin

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rohn

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Jarrell

  22. 4 out of 5

    David

  23. 4 out of 5

    Timmia King

  24. 5 out of 5

    Vincent F. A. Golphin

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jacara Brown

  26. 5 out of 5

    Francesgrace Ferland

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brian Pounders

  28. 4 out of 5

    Professor Typewriter

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jack Kruse

  30. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

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