ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Drumvoices offers a critical introduction to black poetry, including an outline of
its historical development. Redmond, a poet and educator, discusses trends
within the Black literary movement and the social milieu of the major periods.
Books by Eugene Redmond
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Drumvoices: The Mission of Afro-American Poetry
A Critical History by Eugene B. Redmond
Eugene B. Redmond. Drumvoices: The Mission of Afro-American Poetry, A Critical History .New York: Doubleday, 1976
The poetry of Black America is a strong and powerful force on the American literary scene. In Drumvoices, Eugene Redmond analyzes the works of such contemporary poets as June Jordan, Quincy Troupe, Jayne Cortez, Gwendolyn Brooks, Haki Madhubuti, Carolyn Rodgers, the esteemed Black poets of the Harlem Renaissance: Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown; as well as the poetic expression of such popular lyricists/poets as Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and B.B. King.
Drumvoices offers a critical introduction to black poetry, including an outline of its historical development. Redmond, a poet and educator, discusses trends within the Black literary movement and the social milieu of the major periods. This exceptional work thoroughly explores the dynamics of Black poetic expression through a detailed examination of the meaning and form of songs, sayings, and poemsBackcover Drumvoices
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As promised in our Preface, we have tried to avoid forcing our research and findings into manicured paradigms and neat frames. However, Drumvoices does advance theories and thesesmany of them well known and some of them originalfor this study has been termed a critical history; and one must take stands. Indeed, the poets have taken their own stands as individuals and groups, since to project an inner self to the public is to assume a stance; to work out one’s systems of beliefs, perceptions, relationships, and values within the function or framework of poetry and poetics. Such stands have always represented critical choices for poets. And for Afro-American poets they have created a unique crisis-continuum in that so many “unusual” factors attend their written “commitments.” One factor was the apparent self-mockery that initially accompanied the poets use of written English. for the early bards, there was the simplebut gravetask of “proving” their ability to employ literary skills; this test, alas, was conducted by “liberal” slavemasters, while many states made black literacy a crime punishable by imprisonment, beating and, in some cases, even death.
There was much confusion and misdirection of values and energies in the earlier poetry: the poets were neither encouraged nor allowed to retain an African flavor (let alone language). The Christianization of slaves had aided in the development of a ghastly “duality”or wall between the African and himselfwhich cluttered the poets’ self-esteem and world-views, indeed sending most black intellectuals into psychic chaos. This tendency, called a “veil” by W. E. B. Du Bois, held Afro-American poetry in a state of moral limbo up through the beginning of the twentieth century. And though there wee exceptions (Horton, Whitfield, Whitman, Frances Harper), anyone with proper background study can understand the isolationism and alienation of a Phillis Wheatley or a Jupiter Hammon, who refused freedom for himself but advocated it for young Blacks. One need only read David Walker to discover the boundaries of Negro “freedom” in the “free” states of early America.
In the meantime, a folk traditionon the plantations, among escaped slaves, out of the minstrel erawas also developing. This folk strain in the poetry (separated by Wagner from the “spiritualist” vein) has survived as a conscience, more or less, of Afro-American letters, philosophy, and art. And even though such critics as Wagner make false distinctions between the folk and the literary (or spiritual) realms, all but a few of the “intellectual” poets have delved into the folk roots and origins in one way or another. This fact is not as obvious in such poets as Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, or Jean Toomer as it is in, say, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson, Sterling Brown, and Langston Hughesbut it can be identified. At the same time, however, the ambivalent attitude toward the Christian God and white people is as evident in the folk poets as it is in those steeped in book theology.
Examinations of the artificial boundaries established between folk (oral, gesture) poetry and literary (intellectual, book) poetry has not been pursued with enough intensity by critics and writers. Just because Europe and larger America have depreciated communal art forms does not mean that Afro-American has to follow suit! Or does it? And, as we stated in the beginning of Chapter VI, the social-communal value of the poetry has yet to be viewed in the context of black reading trends and habits. For we know Black place great emphasis on the dramatic presentation of a poem. Witness the magnetism and charisma of poets at live readings and the development of a national black audience for poetry via such vehicles as Ellis Haizlip’s TV show “Soul.”
All the foregoing statements tie in with our opening remarks about stands taken by poets. For, if the transliteration, if you will, of the thought or impulse to the page results in a reduction of poetic intensity, then the silent reading of the poem cuts a similar nerve contact between reader and the originating idea or instinct. One has only to hear such an “intellectual” poet as Robert Haydn read his own works to understand this principle. Our point, then, is that much of the strait-laced poetry of the early periods has less meaning for us when it is not delivered in its natural environments of church services, abolitionist rallies, choir-singing, dances or social activities. For example, one should avoid listening to a poor reader present dialect poems of Dunbar, or Corrothers.
A number of devices and themes are central to Afro-American poetry. And while there have been instances (Wheatley, Hammon, Ann Plato, the Creole poets) of poets’ being immune to the social whirlwind, most Afro-American poets have been in that whirlwind. Hence, patterns of segregation in America turned a “curse” into a “blessing” (to paraphrase Alain Locke) and provided black poets with private languages, forms, styles, and tones. from the ditties, blues, spirituals, dozens, sermons, and jokes, the poets fashioned an endless stream of poetic forms and fusions (Tolson dressed the Pindaric ode in a blues form). And that same, segregated pattern gave these poets their ominous themes and their grave tones and temperaments, which, coupled with their crisp insight into America’s contradictions and paradoxes, allowed them to project, to prophesy, and to refine their “duality” into one of the most powerful aesthetical tools available to any group of writers.
Hence the Afro-American poet has his own private (cultural) symbols and themes as well as those of the larger world. For example, most black poets have written poems about lynching, but most Euro-Americans poets have not. themes related to slavery, job discrimination, the ambivalence of a Christian God, psychic tumult in a white world, homelessness and restlessness, poverty reinforced by oppression, racism, prejudice, rivers and trains, castration, plus the landscape of terror and fear resulting from a web of social inequities, all, in one way or another, work themselves into Afro-American poetry.
Though certain forms and themes have historically dominated Afro-American poetry, unique variations and divergent approaches characterize the use of them. Outside of the dominating clusters, however, the poets display myriad other interests, themes and preoccupations. many of these trends stem from black family units that have existed for hundreds of yearseven if such a fact is obscured by a socio-media representation with all its accompanying pathological emphases. (Any young Black’s critical analysis of white culture includes his own unstated or implied cultural preferences.)
True, Africans in the new land have lived the nightmare amid talk of an American Dream; and, understandably, the darker poets’ songs are full of unpleasantries and recollections of that nightmare. But the end of black poetry can never be self-pity, chauvinism, ideology, rhetoric, or complaint (Baraka says, “The End of Man Is His Beauty”). Thus Margaret walker, amid her sisters’ use of “safe” female subjects and her brothers’ trips to the altar of the white literati, is able to celebrate black life (For My People).
Robert Haydn transcends artificial barriers between himself (and us) and nature and enters the flower (Night-Blooming Cereus), as does Henry Dumas in Play Ebony Play Ivory and Pinkie Gordon Lane in Wind Thoughts. Other examples of such diversity and sensitivity abound: Owen Dodson (Powerful Long Ladder), Langston Hughes (The Dream Keeper), Alice Walker (Once), Raymond Patterson (26 Ways of Looking at a Black Man), Joyce Carol Thomas (Blessing), and the cross-spread of almost any anthology.
We have said the poet takes a stand not inherent in, say, the musician’s, when he commits his thoughts to paper. And over the past few years of social change and unrest, the black poet whose aesthetic or religious position was not aligned with that of vested interest groups came up before many a strange court, at which times his own feelings and sensibilities were often neutralized in favor of the “popular latex brand.” Serious critics and ‘cultural stabilizers” need to examine such “one-way approaches to poetry/criticism, especially as they have occurred over the past ten years. We mention this “side” show of the contemporary poetry scene because its presence has often dirtied the waters of “open” thought and either crippled or destroyed many a budding talent. In a few cases it has even muffled a rich or significant voice. However, it is time the critical flood gates were “opened” completely and honestly. Only in this way can Afro-American poetry continue to breathe the breath of the ancestors.
Finally, as winds of change shift, speed up, or slow down, and the “tradition” congeals, readers and poets must ask about ultimate designs and inherent missions. As the drum stands at the crossroads of traditional African and Afro-American culture, so the poet should stand at the center of the drum. Most poetic principles, and the language associated with them, rely on the vocabulary of sound and music. Music is the most shared experiencethe most vital commodityamong Afro-Americans. And poetry is music’s twin. Both the metaphysical and the metaphorical word stem from and return in measured rumble or anxious cacophony. Between the lines are the rattle of choruses, the whine (hum) of guitars, and the shriek of tambourines, framed by rivers that will not run away. And the drumvoices urging us to cross them, cross them.
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Acknowledgements iv Preface xiii Chapter I Black Poetry: Views, Visions, Conflicts 1 Chapter II The Black and Unknown Bards 17 Origins of Black Expression 17 Black Folk Roots in America 22 Spirituals 23 Folk seculars 27 Folk Anthology Section (Sample) 34 Spirituals 34 Go Down Moses Slavery Chain No More Auction Block Shout Along, Chillen Swing Low, Sweet Chariot Steal Away Deep River Folk Seculars 38 He Is My Horse Did You Feed My Cow Song Many A Thousand Gone Freedom Rainbow Roun Mah Shoulder John Henry Hammer Song A Big Fat Mama How Long Blues Chapter III African Voice in Eclipse (?): Imitation and Agitation (1746-1865) 43 Overview 43 Literary and Social Landscape 43 The Voice on the Totem 49 Chapter IV Jubilees, Jujus, and Justices (1865-1910) 85 Overview 85 Literary and Social Landscape 86 The Voices on the Totem 91 Chapter V A Long Ways from Home (1910-1960) 139 Overview 139 Literary and Social Landscape 140 To 1930 140 From 1930 to 1960 147 The Voices on the Totem 155 The Coming Cadence: Prerenaissance Voices 155 Poets, as Prophets: The Harlem Renaissance 169 Minor, or Second-Echelon Poets of the Renaissance 196 Renaissance Fallout: Negritude Poets and Pan-African Writing 217 The Extended Renaissance: ’30s, ’40s, ’50s 221 Chapter VI Festivals and Funerals: Black Poetry of the 1960s and 1970s 294 Overview 294 Literary and Social Landscape 296 The Voices on the Totem 309 “Soon One Morning”: Threshold of the New Black Poetry 309 “Griefs of Joy”: The Poetry of Wings and the Black Arts Movement 347 Reflections on the New Black Poetry 413 Chapter VII Conclusion: Afterthoughts 418 Bibliographical Index 423 General Research Aids 423 Periodicals 426 Anthologies 427 Literary History and Criticism 433 General 433 Poetry 440 Folklore and Language 444 Discography and Tape Index 448 Collections (Phonograph) 448 Single Poets (Phonograph) 452 Single Poets (Tape) 454 Index 455
Source: Eugene B. Redmond. Drumvoices: The Mission of Afro-American Poetry, A Critical History New York: Doubleday, 1976
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Eugene B. Redmond / Office: PH 2206 / Phone: x3991 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
M.A. Washington University / Editor: DRUMVOICES REVUE Specializations: Creative Writing, African-American and Multi-Cultural Literature. Currently a Professor of English and the editor of DRUMVOICES REVUE at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Eugene B. Redmond is an active voice in the local writing community as well as in national and international circles.
As a founder of the Eugene B. Redmond Writers Club (1986) in East St. Louis, he continues to be instrumental in the lives of novice and experienced writers across the globe.
Awards His awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lifetime Achievement Award from Pan-African Movement USA, a Pushcart Prize: Best of Small Presses, a Tribute to an Elder from the African Poetry Theater of NYC, an American Book Award (The Eye in the Ceiling: Selected Poems, 1993), and Writing Fellowships from the California, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri and West Virginia Arts Councils.Bio A national and international lecturer, Redmond reaches worldwide audiences with his multicultural messages. In 1999, Redmond joined Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley, Lerone Bennett Jr., August Wilson, and Henry Dumas as an inductee into the National Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent.
While a professor of English and Poet-in-Residence in Ethnic Studies at California State University-Sacramento (1970-85), he was named and remains Poet Laureate of East St. Louis.
Redmond’s books of poetry are Sides of the River (1969,) Sentry of the Four Golden Pillars (1970), River of Bones and Flesh and Blood (1971), Songs from an Afro/Phone (1972), Consider Loneliness As These Things, and In a Time of Rain & Desire 1973); his LP recording of poetry, Bloodlinks and Sacred Places, was released by Black River Writers in 1973. He edited Drumvoices: The Mission of Afro-American Poetry, A Critical History (1976) and Echo Tree: The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas (2003)
He taught at the Experiment in Higher Education (Southern Illinois University-East St. Louis) where his colleagues included Henry Dumas, Joyce Ladner, and Katherine Dunham. He has authored six volumes of poetry and has edited many more.
Since 1968 when he became literary executor of the Dumas estate, Redmond has edited several volumes of prose and poetry by the late writer.
posted 26 January 2007
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Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho
Joshua fit de battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho. Joshua fit de battle of Jericho an de walls come tumblindown.
You may talk about yo king of Gideon You may talk about yo man of Saul Deres none like good ole Joshua at de battle ob Jericho.
Up to de walls ob Jericho He marched with spear in han Go blow dem ram horns, Joshua cried, Cause de battle am in my han.
Den de lam ram sheep begin to blow, trumpets begin to soun Joshua commanded de children to shout an de walls come tumblin down Dat mornin
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho Joshua fit de battle of Jericho an de walls come tumblindown.
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He Is My Horse
One day I was a-ridin’ by,
said dey: “Ole man yo’ hoss will die.”
“If he dies, he is my loss;
and if he lives, he is my hoss.”
Nex’ day w’en I come a’ridin’ by,
dey said: “Oleman, yo’ hoss may die.”
“If he dies, I’ll tan ‘is skin;
an’ if he lives, I’ll ride ‘im ag’in.”
Den ag’in w’en I come a-ridin’ by,
said dey: “Olem man, yo’ hoss mought die.”
“If he dies, I’ll eat his co’n;
an’ if he lives, I’ll ride ‘im on.”
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music website > http://www.kalamu.com/bol/ writing website > http://wordup.posterous.com/ daily blog > http://kalamu.posterous.com twitter > http://twitter.com/neogriot facebook > http://www.facebook.com/kalamu.salaam
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Men We Love, Men We HateSAC writings from Douglass, McDonogh 35, and McMain high schools in New Orleans.
An anthology on the topic of men and relationships with men
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By Lorraine Hansberry
I can hear Rosalee See the eyes of Willie McGee My mother told me about Lynchings My mother told me about The dark nights And dirt roads And torch lights And lynch robes
The faces of men Laughing white Faces of men Dead in the night sorrow night and a sorrow night
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Writer Lorraine Hansberry’s sober eulogy of the death of Willie McGee weighed heavy on the hearts and minds of the American Left. On May 8, 1951, a crowd of five hundred lingered outside the courthouse of Laurel, Mississippi, to witness the execution of yet another black man convicted for allegedly raping a white woman. His 1945 lightning trial resulted in a guilty conviction delivered in less than two and a half minutes by an all-white, male jury, setting off a heated five-year legal struggle that drew national headlines. Despite an aggressive appeals defense team who attempted every legal maneuver in the book, the US Supreme Court ultimately chose not to intervene. With the legal lynching of the Martinsville Seven in February, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg’s conviction in March, followed by the execution of McGee in May, 1951 was a bad year for Left-leaning lawyers (Parrish 1979; Rise 1995). Most discouraging, national news sources like the New York Times and Life magazine red-baited the “Save Willie McGee” campaign andas Life reportedits “imported” lawyers (Popham 1951a; Life 1951). Few felt McGee’s passing with as heavy a heart as his chief counsel, thirty-one-year-old Bella Abzug.
Before Abzug became a representative in Congress and a leader in the peace and women’s movements, she confronted the Southern political and legal system at the height of the early Cold War. Retained in 1948 by the Civil Rights Congress (CRC)a New York-headquartered Popular Front legal defense organizationthe novice labor lawyer honed her civil rights . . .
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By Alex Heard
An iconic criminal casea black man sentenced to death for raping a white woman in Mississippi in 1945exposes the roiling tensions of the early civil rights era in this provocative study. McGee’s prosecution garnered international protestshe was championed by the Communist Party and defended by a young lawyer named Bella Abzug (later a New York City congresswoman and cofounder of the National Women’s Political Caucus), while luminaries from William Faulkner to Albert Einstein spoke out for himbut journalist Heard (Apocalypse Pretty Soon) finds the saga rife with enigmas. The case against McGee, hinging on a possibly coerced confession, was weak and the legal proceedings marred by racial bias and intimidation. (During one of his trials, his lawyers fled for their lives without delivering summations.) But Heard contends that McGee’s storythat he and the victim, Willette Hawkins, were having an affairis equally shaky. The author’s extensive research delves into the documentation of the case, the public debate surrounding it, and the recollections of McGee and Hawkins’s family members. Heard finds no easy answers, but his nuanced, evocative portrait of the passions enveloping McGee’s case is plenty revealing.Publishers Weekly
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By Marcus Rediker
In this groundbreaking work, historian and scholar Rediker considers the relationships between the slave ship captain and his crew, between the sailors and the slaves, and among the captives themselves as they endured the violent, terror-filled and often deadly journey between the coasts of Africa and America. While he makes fresh use of those who left their mark in written records (Olaudah Equiano, James Field Stanfield, John Newton), Rediker is remarkably attentive to the experiences of the enslaved women, from whom we have no written accounts, and of the common seaman, who he says was a victim of the slave trade . . . and a victimizer. Regarding these vessels as a strange and potent combination of war machine, mobile prison, and factory, Rediker expands the scholarship on how the ships not only delivered millions of people to slavery, [but] prepared them for it. He engages readers in maritime detail (how ships were made, how crews were fed) and renders the archival (letters, logs and legal hearings) accessible. Painful as this powerful book often is, Rediker does not lose sight of the humanity of even the most egregious participants, from African traders to English merchants. Publishers Weekly
Marcus Rediker is professor of maritime history at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (1987), The Many-Headed Hydra (2000), and Villains of All Nations (2005), books that explore seafaring, piracy, and the origins of globalization. In The Slave Ship, Rediker combines exhaustive research with an astute and highly readable synthesis of the material, balancing documentary snapshots with an ear for gripping narrative. Critics compare the impact of Redikers history, unique for its ship-deck perspective, to similarly compelling fictional accounts of slavery in Toni Morrisons Beloved and Charles Johnsons Middle Passage. Even scholars who have written on the subject defer to Redikers vast knowledge of the subject. Bottom line: The Slave Ship is sure to become a classic of its subject.Bookmarks Magazine
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26 March 2010
National Black Writers Conference
Patrick Oliver, Kalamu ya Salaam, Dorothea Smartt, Frank Wilderson discuss the use of literature to promote political causes and instigate change and transformation. The event is at the Medgar Evers College at the City University of New York. C-Span Archives
26 March 2010
National Black Writers Conference
Herb Boyd, Thomas Bradshaw, Charles Edison and Major Owens discuss how current events are reflected in the writings of African Americans. The event is at the Medgar Evers College at the City University of New York. C-Span Archives
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Part of a recording of an interview of Jelly Roll Morton by Alan Lomax in 1938. Jazz history archive material. Jelly sings and plays Buddy Bolden Blues, and tells of his experiences watching Buddy in New Orleans, and talks about the great Buddy Bolden. “Buddy was the blowinest man since Gabriel!”.
Jelly Roll Morton playing and singing his composition of “Buddy Bolden’s Blues”
Buddy Boldens Blues
Lyrics by Jelly Roll Morton.
I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say You nasty, you dirtytake it away You terrible, you awfultake it away I thought I heard him say
I thought I heard Buddy Bolden shout Open up that window and let that bad air out Open up that window, and let the foul air out I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say
I thought I heard Judge Fogarty say
Thirty days in the markettake him away
Get him a good broom to sweep withtake him away
I thought I heard him say
I thought I heard Frankie Dusen shout
Gal, give me that moneyIm gonna beat it out
I mean give me that money, like I explain you, or Im gonna beat it out
I thought I heard Frankie Dusen say
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A Novel in Linocut by Stefan Rerg
In a series of brilliantly rendered linocut relief prints, Berg tells the story of Buddy Bolden, a New Orleans jazz musician living from 1877 to 1931. Each crisp image masterfully succeeds in evoking a feeling of the fluidity of the music, the boisterousness of the community, and the darkness of the events surrounding the musician’s demise. An introduction by Donald M. Marquis, author of In Search of Buddy Bolden: First Man of Jazz, and an afterword by renowned artist, George A. Walker, round out this collection.
Fans of the graphic novel genre and enthusiasts of linocut relief printmaking will surely be pleased with Let That Bad Air Out: Buddy Bolden’s Last Parade. Highly recommended.
Stefan Berg revives the wordless graphic novel in his portrait of he `first man of jazz’. Very little is known of Buddy Bolden. His music was never recorded and there is only one existing photograph, yet he is considered to be the first bandleader to play the improvised music that has since become known as jazz.
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#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family thats about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys muscles jabbered like chickens. Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake. She conveys something fundamental about Eschs fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.
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By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarcerationbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 10 January 2012