African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song (LOA #333): A Library of America Anthology by Kevin Young - Book Review

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African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song (LOA #333): A Library of America Anthology Cover Image
By Kevin Young (Editor)
$45.00
ISBN: 9781598536669
Availability: Click Title for IN STORE Location
Published: Library of America - October 20th, 2020

“My silence wears the ecstasy of song.” – Anita Scott Coleman. Kevin Young and the Library of America have curated quite simply the most significant collection of African American poetry. This remarkable achievement canonizes for at least a generation 250 years of a marginalized but vibrant tradition. Or rather traditions. Whatever your taste in poetic style, you will find something you are accustomed to (traditional rhyme and meter, free verse, slam, or even a little Gil Scott-Heron) and something completely new. There are generous selections of recent poetry, of Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, but the real gift of this volume is all of the discoveries any reader will make. I’ve always liked Claude McKay, but OMG, “await / A new Fascism, the American brand, / And now worlds will be built upon race and hate / And the Eagle and the Dollar will command.” Be sure not to sleep on Toomer, Hayden, Tolson, or Randall. But start at the beginning in 1770 with Phillis Wheatley, who survived the Middle Passage, stood trial to assure a jury of white men that she could and indeed did write her poetry, traveled to England to find a publisher, and both “wrote herself into freedom” and through her achievement catalyzed the fledgling antislavery movement. This book is a gift, from Wheatley to “#sayhername.” ~ Reviewed by Dafydd Wood