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A literary landmark: the biggest, most ambitious anthology of black poetry ever published, gathering 250 poets from the colonial period to the present Only now, in the 21st century, can we fully grasp the breadth and range of African American poetry: a magnificent chorus of voices, some familiar, others recently rescued from neglect. Here, in this unprecedented anthology ex A literary landmark: the biggest, most ambitious anthology of black poetry ever published, gathering 250 poets from the colonial period to the present Only now, in the 21st century, can we fully grasp the breadth and range of African American poetry: a magnificent chorus of voices, some familiar, others recently rescued from neglect. Here, in this unprecedented anthology expertly selected by poet and scholar Kevin Young, this precious living heritage is revealed in all its power, beauty, and multiplicity. Discover, in these pages, how an enslaved person like Phillis Wheatley confronted her legal status in verse and how an antebellum activist like Frances Ellen Watkins Harper voiced her own passionate resistance to slavery. Read nuanced, provocative poetic meditations on identity and self-assertion stretching from Paul Laurence Dunbar to Amiri Baraka to Lucille Clifton and beyond. Experience the transformation of poetic modernism in the works of figures such as Langston Hughes, Fenton Johnson, and Jean Toomer. Understand the threads of poetic history—in movements such as the Harlem and Chicago Renaissances, Black Arts, Cave Canem, Dark Noise Collective—and the complex bonds of solidarity and dialogue among poets across time and place. See how these poets have celebrated their African heritage and have connected with other communities in the African Diaspora. Enjoy the varied but distinctly Black music of a tradition that draws deeply from jazz, hip hop, and the rhythms and cadences of the pulpit, the barbershop, and the street. And appreciate, in the anthology's concluding sections, why contemporary African American poetry, amply recognized in recent National Book Awards and Poet Laureates, is flourishing as never before. Taking the measure of the tradition in a single indispensable volume, African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song sets a new standard for a genuinely deep engagement with Black poetry and its essential expression of American genius.


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A literary landmark: the biggest, most ambitious anthology of black poetry ever published, gathering 250 poets from the colonial period to the present Only now, in the 21st century, can we fully grasp the breadth and range of African American poetry: a magnificent chorus of voices, some familiar, others recently rescued from neglect. Here, in this unprecedented anthology ex A literary landmark: the biggest, most ambitious anthology of black poetry ever published, gathering 250 poets from the colonial period to the present Only now, in the 21st century, can we fully grasp the breadth and range of African American poetry: a magnificent chorus of voices, some familiar, others recently rescued from neglect. Here, in this unprecedented anthology expertly selected by poet and scholar Kevin Young, this precious living heritage is revealed in all its power, beauty, and multiplicity. Discover, in these pages, how an enslaved person like Phillis Wheatley confronted her legal status in verse and how an antebellum activist like Frances Ellen Watkins Harper voiced her own passionate resistance to slavery. Read nuanced, provocative poetic meditations on identity and self-assertion stretching from Paul Laurence Dunbar to Amiri Baraka to Lucille Clifton and beyond. Experience the transformation of poetic modernism in the works of figures such as Langston Hughes, Fenton Johnson, and Jean Toomer. Understand the threads of poetic history—in movements such as the Harlem and Chicago Renaissances, Black Arts, Cave Canem, Dark Noise Collective—and the complex bonds of solidarity and dialogue among poets across time and place. See how these poets have celebrated their African heritage and have connected with other communities in the African Diaspora. Enjoy the varied but distinctly Black music of a tradition that draws deeply from jazz, hip hop, and the rhythms and cadences of the pulpit, the barbershop, and the street. And appreciate, in the anthology's concluding sections, why contemporary African American poetry, amply recognized in recent National Book Awards and Poet Laureates, is flourishing as never before. Taking the measure of the tradition in a single indispensable volume, African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song sets a new standard for a genuinely deep engagement with Black poetry and its essential expression of American genius.

30 review for African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song

  1. 5 out of 5

    robin friedman

    African American Poetry In The Library Of America The United States is blessed with a great and diverse literary tradition with reflection on the American experience and on its efforts and frequent failures to realize its ideals of liberty and equality. This tradition may be at its strongest in poetry. Even though the art is underappreciated by many, our country has produced many poets of high achievement. In furtherance of its mission to present the best of American writing, the Library of Ameri African American Poetry In The Library Of America The United States is blessed with a great and diverse literary tradition with reflection on the American experience and on its efforts and frequent failures to realize its ideals of liberty and equality. This tradition may be at its strongest in poetry. Even though the art is underappreciated by many, our country has produced many poets of high achievement. In furtherance of its mission to present the best of American writing, the Library of America has published large anthologies of American poetry from the 17th and 18th century, two volumes of 19th century poetry, two volumes of 20th century poetry, and a volume of American religious poetry. These volumes make an impressive collection. The Library of America has now added a vitally important collection to its celebration of American verse in this new anthology of the poetry written by African Americans, "African American Poetry: 250 years of Struggle & Song". From pre-revolutionary times to the present, African Americans have made contributions to poetry which celebrate the beauty of language and creativity and reflect upon their experiences. Kevin Young, currently the Director of the Schomberg Center for Black Culture and the soon to be Director of the Museum of African American History in Washington, D.C. edited this volume and wrote a perceptive and lengthy Introduction to its contents. Young's poem "Money Road" also appears in the volume. Reading this anthology can be overwhelming in terms of the quality and variety of the poetry and in terms of volume. The book includes the work of 248 poets spread over nearly 1000 pages. The volume also includes Young's introduction, biographical sketches of each poet included in the collection, and notes explaining references that may be unfamiliar to the reader. A strong impression of the range and themes of African American poetry can be gained by reading through the entire volume while many individual writers are worth spending time with on their own. The book can be approached in different ways: I recommend reading it through a little at a time and reading the poems together with the biographical sketches. The book includes only published, written poems. A decision needed to be made at the outset to exclude works such as the spirituals, folk poetry, children's poetry, the blues, hip-hop and other more vernacular works. These sources might be explored in anthologies of their own. The poetry in this volume shows many themes and styles of writing over its 250 year scope. Many poems celebrate individual experience of living and of love and death. Others describe the African American experience in the United States beginning with slavery and through the continued struggle for equality and for treatment as persons. The tone of the poems vary as do individual styles of writing. With the broad scope of the volume it is valuable to look for differences and continuities. The book is organized into eight sections. The sections are chronological but the poets in each section are presented alphabetically. The sections are grouped into themes, and the work of some poets could fall within more than one section even though each writer appears only once. Some discussion of each section may be useful to see the scope and content of the volume. Section One, "Bury me in a Free Land 1770 --1899" is chronologically the longest part of the book and begins with Phillis Wheatley. Section Two "Lift Every Voice 1900 -- 1918" includes James Weldon Johnson's famous poem known as the "Negro National Anthem" together with poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar, among many others. Section Three, "The Dark Tower 1919 -- 1936" roughly covers the Harlem Renaissance, including Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Bennett, Jean Toomer, and many others, familiar and unfamiliar. Section Four, "Ballads of Remembrance 1936 -- 1959" includes Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, and Margaret Walker, among poets who wrote in Chicago and elsewhere. The poets in Part Five, "Ideas of Ancestry 1959-- 1975" include Lucille Clifton, June Jordan, and Amiri Bakara. Part Six, "Blue Light Sutras 1976-1989" includes poems by AI, Rita Dove, and Yusef Komunyakaa. Part Seven is entitled "Praise Songs for the Day 1990 -- 2008" and the poets include the recent Pulitzer Prize winner, Jericho Brown, Elizabeth Alexander, and Natasha Tretheway. The final part, "After the Hurricane 2009 -- 2020" includes single poems by many contemporary writers including Joshua Bennett, Latasha Nevada Diggs, and Allison C. Rollins. Each reader will find poems in this volume to love. Some readers may prefer more traditional forms of writing with other readers will like more modernistic themes and poetic forms. There is a wealth of poetry, both familiar and unfamiliar in this collection. Many of the latter sections of the book, in particular, feature winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur Fellowship, Poets Laureate of the United States or of various states and cities, and recipients of other honors and recognitions. It is difficult to single out poems in a collection as broad as this anthology. My favorites included poems I already knew well, including Sterling Brown's poem "Ma Rainey" about the great blues singer. I also continue to love Waring Cuney's poem "NO IMAGES" which helped introduce me to African American poetry when I read it in an earlier anthology many years ago. A third special poem is "Those Winter Sundays", Robert Hayden's remembrance of his father. Kevin Young concludes his Introduction with the observation: "The African American experience, these poets know, is a central part of the nation's chorus, with Black poetry offering up a daily epic of struggle and song". Readers of this LOA volume will find their understanding of the African American experience and of the American experience enriched through the magic of art and poetry. Robin Friedman

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alicia (PrettyBrownEyeReader)

    This is the most definitive African American poetry anthology I have read. The collection contains some familiar and often anthologized poems and poets. It is the not so familiar poems and poets that are within this anthology that are the most intriguing. The anthology is divided into eight sections. Each of the sections covers a time period characterized by the types of poems produced during the era. Editor, Kevin Young explains each of these sections masterfully in the introduction of the anth This is the most definitive African American poetry anthology I have read. The collection contains some familiar and often anthologized poems and poets. It is the not so familiar poems and poets that are within this anthology that are the most intriguing. The anthology is divided into eight sections. Each of the sections covers a time period characterized by the types of poems produced during the era. Editor, Kevin Young explains each of these sections masterfully in the introduction of the anthology. He also describes how each time period influenced or was influenced by other periods. For anyone interested in African American poetry, this is a must have anthology! I was given the opportunity to review an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Bayer

    It took me quite a long time to work through this anthology, as it is massive. It's arranged by date and features hundreds of poets whom I never knew and was so glad to be introduced to. Some poems spoke to me more than others and the styles were incredibly diverse. Obviously it covers very raw, devastating subjects and obviously there are many great poets who couldn't be included. I was glad to see that my poetry mentor from college, the amazing Nikky Finney, was included, and I discovered so m It took me quite a long time to work through this anthology, as it is massive. It's arranged by date and features hundreds of poets whom I never knew and was so glad to be introduced to. Some poems spoke to me more than others and the styles were incredibly diverse. Obviously it covers very raw, devastating subjects and obviously there are many great poets who couldn't be included. I was glad to see that my poetry mentor from college, the amazing Nikky Finney, was included, and I discovered so many more poets whose work I plan to seek out. This is a book that every school, library and home should have a copy of. It's tough reading but a fantastic compilation of phenomenal work. The biographies at the end are also really moving, interesting, inspiring, you name it. Highly recommended. I read a temporary digital ARC of this book for review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kim Lockhart

    Indescribable. You have to immerse yourself before you can get close to understanding the life force, the powerful rising of these voices across time. They would not be denied. They would express the depth of their experiences. Stunning, sometimes hard, and always beautiful. I need to buy this tome. It's a repository of expository themes, clamoring to be heard. Indescribable. You have to immerse yourself before you can get close to understanding the life force, the powerful rising of these voices across time. They would not be denied. They would express the depth of their experiences. Stunning, sometimes hard, and always beautiful. I need to buy this tome. It's a repository of expository themes, clamoring to be heard.

  5. 4 out of 5

    TheEuphoricZat

    Thanks to #Netgalley for making this book available to me. This is a collection of poems by African American poets who write about their experience living in American, their experience with racial inequality, motherhood, and the fear of raising children in a country infested with discrimination and marginalized profiling that leads to death of millions of sons and daughters. I cannot express enough the importance of this book and the impression it made and I have also been introduced to a lot of n Thanks to #Netgalley for making this book available to me. This is a collection of poems by African American poets who write about their experience living in American, their experience with racial inequality, motherhood, and the fear of raising children in a country infested with discrimination and marginalized profiling that leads to death of millions of sons and daughters. I cannot express enough the importance of this book and the impression it made and I have also been introduced to a lot of new poets, one of them is Khadijah Queen whose prose addresses loss of the sense of self and that of family and the retention she wears to deflect from her problem in order to allow the focus to be moved to police brutality and the devastating effects it has on families and how sadness, tears, and marches are not an antidote or a treatment of pain experience for over 25o years. There are so many poems that speak volumes about the black experience including those who were able to build thing up from the ground and others whose hard work was overshadowed and burnt to the ground like it was in Tulsa. There is a poem by Clint Smith that addresses the injustice that Colin Kaepernick was dealt with in his poem "Your National Anthem". A child will grow, he won't remain a boy that you think is cute, because someday he would begin to ask for his right to live, then he is threatening and not so cute anymore. I also really enjoyed Yusef Komunyakaa's poems such as "Annabelle" and "More Girl Than Boy" there is also Carl Phillips's poem "Blue" which struck a chord with me. I hope you check this book out upon its release.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    I received a review copy of this a couple months ago and cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed working my way through this collection. I was so sad when I browsed the table of contents upon receiving this book and only recognized a shamefully small handful of names; I am so happy to have had the opportunity to have met them all. This is an invaluable anthology that deserves to be kept alongside (and taught alongside, for that matter) your Norton Anthologies. Kevin Young did a fantastic job wit I received a review copy of this a couple months ago and cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed working my way through this collection. I was so sad when I browsed the table of contents upon receiving this book and only recognized a shamefully small handful of names; I am so happy to have had the opportunity to have met them all. This is an invaluable anthology that deserves to be kept alongside (and taught alongside, for that matter) your Norton Anthologies. Kevin Young did a fantastic job with the introduction, the structure, the author profiles, and the selections of poems themselves. I particularly appreciated the highlighting of women and members of the LGBTQ community. The time periods/creative movements that served as the theme for each section were interesting to learn about and I greatly enjoyed how different generations and movements are clearly in dialogue with each other. "These poems they are things that I do in the dark reaching for you whoever you are and are you ready?" - from "These Poems" by June Jordan (one of my favorites).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Serena

    African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song edited by Kevin Young is a compendium like no other, exploring the wide breadth of African American poetry from songs to poems and much more. There are eight sections in this collection and there are the familiar, often anthologized poems we've come to know, but there are also the unfamiliar poets who have been obscured by American culture for far too long. The struggle is real and it continues 250 years later. Young says the collection cont African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song edited by Kevin Young is a compendium like no other, exploring the wide breadth of African American poetry from songs to poems and much more. There are eight sections in this collection and there are the familiar, often anthologized poems we've come to know, but there are also the unfamiliar poets who have been obscured by American culture for far too long. The struggle is real and it continues 250 years later. Young says the collection contains "poems we memorize, pass around, carry in our memory, and literally inscribe in stone." And I would agree wholeheartedly with that. This is a collection that should be brought to classrooms as young as elementary schools. These are the poems and truths that need to be taught so that we can learn from the past and move forward as a nation to a brighter future. Full review posts on Dec. 2, 2020: https://savvyverseandwit.com/2020/12/...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Like many aspects of American arts and culture, poetry has been extremely white. This book does a tremendous job of rounding out our country’s poetic landscape by pulling together the work of African American poets from as far back as the mid 1700s to the present day. Though poetry is still not my strong suit, many of the works here are absolutely fabulous and provide a great artistic counterpoint to the triumphalist narrative that many white American poets have given throughout our history. One Like many aspects of American arts and culture, poetry has been extremely white. This book does a tremendous job of rounding out our country’s poetic landscape by pulling together the work of African American poets from as far back as the mid 1700s to the present day. Though poetry is still not my strong suit, many of the works here are absolutely fabulous and provide a great artistic counterpoint to the triumphalist narrative that many white American poets have given throughout our history. One of the best things about this collection though is how, by reading this book from cover to cover, one can get a sense of how African American poetry evolved over the years from the familiar verses and meters of the past to a completely original style that begins to take hold in the 20th century. The brief biographical sketches of the poets in the back of the book is also incredibly useful and I would highly recommend that you read each one before you read a poet’s work(s). One thing I do wish this book had done was provide some dates for when specific poems were written. While the book is organized into chronological sections, those sections are internally organized by the poets’s last names and many of the works seem to have been written outside of their proscribed time frame. Thus, it would have been nice to see when a poem was written, even if the editor could only make an educated guess. This volume in the fabled Library of America collection has provided a tremendous contribution to American letters that fans of poetry will enjoy for years to come.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Edina Biro

    @Thanks NetGalley for giving me the access to read this wonderful story. It was such an emotional journey. I loved every line of this book. I give 5 stars to this wonderful book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Debra Hines

    I enjoyed this anthology of poetry. Of course I did not read every single poem in the book, but I sampled at least one poem by each author and for my favorite authors, like Langston Hughes, Frances Harper and Natasha Trethaway, I read most of their included poems. I discovered some new poems that I loved - Your National Anthem by Clint Smith, Women by Alice Walker, and the heart wrenching Wednesday Poem by Joel Dias-Porter, among many more. Definitely a collection teachers should use to find tex I enjoyed this anthology of poetry. Of course I did not read every single poem in the book, but I sampled at least one poem by each author and for my favorite authors, like Langston Hughes, Frances Harper and Natasha Trethaway, I read most of their included poems. I discovered some new poems that I loved - Your National Anthem by Clint Smith, Women by Alice Walker, and the heart wrenching Wednesday Poem by Joel Dias-Porter, among many more. Definitely a collection teachers should use to find text...comprehensive and vast.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Danyel

    Thank you to NetGalley and Library of America for a gifted eARC of this book. Kevin Young has a smooth writing style that flows similarly to a poem. He gives a great general overview of each section with information about the poets and the effect of their writing during that time period. Overall this is an incredible anthology of African American poetry from so many different time periods. It has a mixture of well known and lesser-unknown poets and does an amazing job of featuring them all. Kevin Thank you to NetGalley and Library of America for a gifted eARC of this book. Kevin Young has a smooth writing style that flows similarly to a poem. He gives a great general overview of each section with information about the poets and the effect of their writing during that time period. Overall this is an incredible anthology of African American poetry from so many different time periods. It has a mixture of well known and lesser-unknown poets and does an amazing job of featuring them all. Kevin Young put together an invaluable resource.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    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 jus 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.

  14. 4 out of 5

    J Earl

    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. T 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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Harry Allagree

    Some books seem to defy adequate review by a reader. This is one of them. On one hand, it's an amazing work, one worthy of continual study. But it's exceedingly painful by its nature: a book of poetry spanning "250 Years of Struggle & Song" by wonderful, brilliant, loving human beings, a good portion of whom live in America. Tje writers of these poems are, directly indirectly, bearers of the injustice of this country, because of the black color of their skin, and because the the prejudice of peo Some books seem to defy adequate review by a reader. This is one of them. On one hand, it's an amazing work, one worthy of continual study. But it's exceedingly painful by its nature: a book of poetry spanning "250 Years of Struggle & Song" by wonderful, brilliant, loving human beings, a good portion of whom live in America. Tje writers of these poems are, directly indirectly, bearers of the injustice of this country, because of the black color of their skin, and because the the prejudice of people with white skin who wield exceptional power over who & what are okay or not okay. Painful in another sense, for me personally, because I'm not even familiar with the names of, maybe, a half dozen of the writers, much, less their poetry. Further, I felt disgruntled in reading the poems because I could not truly understand much of what was written, thereby missing so much of an extremely rich legacy of human knowledge. I suspect the majority of white people like me in America could say the same -- & that is our fault! What strikes me about the book is the honesty in the writings, often in raw images & language, about their own or others' experiences. Another is the priority of education for this group of writers, and these poets' own educational accomplishments. There are few who haven't earned several academic & other degrees, awards, etc., most from highly prestigious institutions in the country.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Britt

    African American Poetry encompasses 250 years of poetry from 1770-2020. I am glad I persevered finishing this poetry beast of 1170 pages. The book starts with an in-depth introduction explaining all the parts and highlighting some poets. I thought of giving up sometimes but the poetry collection includes many, many poets that I would find gems and continue. My gems - highlighted sometimes in my page updates - will probably be different than the gems you will find in this poetry collection. Perso African American Poetry encompasses 250 years of poetry from 1770-2020. I am glad I persevered finishing this poetry beast of 1170 pages. The book starts with an in-depth introduction explaining all the parts and highlighting some poets. I thought of giving up sometimes but the poetry collection includes many, many poets that I would find gems and continue. My gems - highlighted sometimes in my page updates - will probably be different than the gems you will find in this poetry collection. Personally, it took me longer to read the older poems since English is not my first language. However, since I read the book 'normally' it became easier for me as I read more poems. The collection spreads the 250 years over 8 parts: 1. Bury Me in A Free Land 1770-1899 2. Lift Every Voice 1900-1918 3. The Dark Tower 1919-1936 4. Ballads of Remembrance 1936-1959 5. Ideas of Ancestry 1960-1975 6. Blue Light Sutras 1976-1989 7. Praise Songs for the Day 1990-2008 8. After the Hurricane 2009-2020 I would definitely recommend this poetry collection to any poetry lover and advice them to read it how they want to. Start in the middle, skip to the end. However, you like it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    The Atlantic

    In describing the works he selected for this compendium of verse, the poet and incoming Smithsonian director Kevin Young elaborates on the late writer June Jordan’s celebration of the form: “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.” The anthology includes writers such as Claude McKay, Derek Walcott, Gil Scott-Heron, Natasha Trethewey, In describing the works he selected for this compendium of verse, the poet and incoming Smithsonian director Kevin Young elaborates on the late writer June Jordan’s celebration of the form: “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.” The anthology includes writers such as Claude McKay, Derek Walcott, Gil Scott-Heron, Natasha Trethewey, Robin Coste Lewis, and my colleague Clint Smith. It’s not an exhaustive volume, as Young writes, but in its more than 1,000 pages, it captures the depth and urgency of Black poets’ contributions to the form and to the country. Without sacrificing the nuance and specificity of each poet’s work—or of the experiences that tie Black people to one another—the collection also serves as a corrective to omissions in the larger poetry canon. Young has undertaken a difficult archival endeavor, leaving the reader with something worth celebrating in the process. — Hannah Giorgis https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/a...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    When I get a very dense anthology like this, I always marvel at the scope of it. This must contain more than 500 poems over nearly 1,000 pages, and I wonder: Are there 500 great American poems? Are there 500 great poems in English? In the history of the world? Well, maybe greatness isn’t the goal of any anthology, just goodness. And this collection is very good. I’m reading this in sections: Three: The Dark Tower When going through multi-authored collections like this one, there are always a few p When I get a very dense anthology like this, I always marvel at the scope of it. This must contain more than 500 poems over nearly 1,000 pages, and I wonder: Are there 500 great American poems? Are there 500 great poems in English? In the history of the world? Well, maybe greatness isn’t the goal of any anthology, just goodness. And this collection is very good. I’m reading this in sections: Three: The Dark Tower When going through multi-authored collections like this one, there are always a few poets that jump out at you. Maybe it’s a personal connection. But it’s not surprising that Langston Hughes is one of the poets that grabbed me. I have enjoyed his plays, and I need to read more of his poetry. I was also struck by Frank Horne, and Anne Spenser. Overall, the poems are passionate and thoughtful. They tell of the ordinary moments of life, and the extraordinary effects of racism in America.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ed Kazyanskaya

    A book of astonishing depth and breadth showcasing the great variety of African-American poetry throughout history. It contains some old well-known names, such as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, and Gil Scott-Heron, and introduced me to many new favorites, like Fenton Johnson (whose "Tired" made me catch my breath and demanded multiple re-reads). As with any anthology, especially with an art form as diverse as poetry, not all entries will be to everyone's liking. However, one ca A book of astonishing depth and breadth showcasing the great variety of African-American poetry throughout history. It contains some old well-known names, such as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, and Gil Scott-Heron, and introduced me to many new favorites, like Fenton Johnson (whose "Tired" made me catch my breath and demanded multiple re-reads). As with any anthology, especially with an art form as diverse as poetry, not all entries will be to everyone's liking. However, one can usually separate out personal preference from quality when making a judgement on the poems themselves. My only issue was the inclusion of "Black Art" by Amiri Baraka, which contained antisemitic language that felt very out of place. Thank you to NetGalley and Library of America for providing me with the ARC for this vital addition to the LoA series

  20. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    This book is nearly impossible to rate. Any collection of poetry has poems you enjoy and poems you dislike. But for the historical context given, along with the sheer number of writers I now need to look into, it cannot get anything but 5 stars. These poems are important and painful and poignant. Some of my favorite poets/poems from this book include: - For Saundra by Nikki Giovanni - Legacies by Nikki Giovanni - The Idea of Ancestry by Etheridge Knight - Power by Audre Lorde - Beware: Do Not Read Th This book is nearly impossible to rate. Any collection of poetry has poems you enjoy and poems you dislike. But for the historical context given, along with the sheer number of writers I now need to look into, it cannot get anything but 5 stars. These poems are important and painful and poignant. Some of my favorite poets/poems from this book include: - For Saundra by Nikki Giovanni - Legacies by Nikki Giovanni - The Idea of Ancestry by Etheridge Knight - Power by Audre Lorde - Beware: Do Not Read This Poem by Ishmael Reed - The House Slave by Rita Dove - We Never Know by Yusef Komunyakaa - Wednesday Poem by Joel Dias-Porter - A Small Needful Fact by Ross Gay One upsetting note: Black Art by Amiri Baraka is one of the most anti-semitic things I have ever read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anna T. (booksilovegr)

    I would like to thank the publisher of African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Son for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy through NetGalley. I don't know much about African American Poetry with the exception of Maya Angelou and Audre Lorde so this anthology is an excellent introduction for readers like me, who are interested in this topic and would like to trace the roots of African American Poetry. I appreciated a lot the introduction in the book, which explained the sections I would like to thank the publisher of African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Son for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy through NetGalley. I don't know much about African American Poetry with the exception of Maya Angelou and Audre Lorde so this anthology is an excellent introduction for readers like me, who are interested in this topic and would like to trace the roots of African American Poetry. I appreciated a lot the introduction in the book, which explained the sections in the book, guiding the reader, as the poetry evolved through the ages. It's a book I will often revisit to discover more African American Poets.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Violet Laflamme

    I received an ebook copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book of poetry exceeded my expectations. First of all, I really appreciated the way the book was organized. If you're only interested in one historical period it's easy just to concentrate there. But I also felt like there was a high attention to detail in making sure as many poets as possible made it into this anthology without leaving influential and important poets behind. I can only recommend it onwar I received an ebook copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book of poetry exceeded my expectations. First of all, I really appreciated the way the book was organized. If you're only interested in one historical period it's easy just to concentrate there. But I also felt like there was a high attention to detail in making sure as many poets as possible made it into this anthology without leaving influential and important poets behind. I can only recommend it onward.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zody

    This is a beautiful collection of African American voices that have struggled for basic freedoms, human rights and their dreams. The book is organized by time and themes. I felt that it contained both famous authors and many that I hadn't been exposed too, which was a wonderful experience to be introduced to more authors of color. This is a beautiful collection of African American voices that have struggled for basic freedoms, human rights and their dreams. The book is organized by time and themes. I felt that it contained both famous authors and many that I hadn't been exposed too, which was a wonderful experience to be introduced to more authors of color.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matt Miles

    I’m not a fan of the style represented by the earliest poems because I’m not too fond of most early American and European poetry in general, but their inclusion is necessary and meaningful. And after that, it’s a diverse selection of beautiful, disturbing, unsettling, and thoughtful poetry covering every lament and joy the earth has to offer.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Liz Staab

    It took me nearly a month to get through this, but I am so glad that I took the time to read to it. This is a beautiful anthology of African American poetry that stirred my emotions. Containing poems from people who were enslaved to poems written during the tumultuous year of 2020, this collection really has it all.

  26. 4 out of 5

    J.D. DeHart

    Editor Kevin Young has assembled both a breadth and depth of poetry in this volume that represents a range of African American experiences over time. Highly recommended as both a personal and classroom resource, and packed with amazing work.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Took this out of the public library & enjoyed a lot of the poems in it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Amazing compilation and will treasure making my way through.

  29. 4 out of 5

    lisa

    So grateful for this spectacular collection.

  30. 4 out of 5

    OneDayI'll

    This was a beautiful and stunning collection of poems. I went through this slowly, to savor them. I did not want to do my usual speed read and possibly miss anything.

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