100 Best African American Poems with CD

100 Best African American Poems with CD

by Nikki Giovanni
     
 

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Hear voices contemporary and classic as selected by New York Times bestselling author Nikki Giovanni

Award-winning poet and writer Nikki Giovanni takes on the impossible task of selecting the 100 best African American works from classic and contemporary poets. Out of necessity, Giovanni admits she cheats a little,

Overview

Hear voices contemporary and classic as selected by New York Times bestselling author Nikki Giovanni

Award-winning poet and writer Nikki Giovanni takes on the impossible task of selecting the 100 best African American works from classic and contemporary poets. Out of necessity, Giovanni admits she cheats a little, selecting a larger, less round number.

The result is this startlingly vibrant collection that spans from historic to modern, from structured to freeform, and reflects the rich roots and visionary future of African American verse. These magnetic poems are an exciting mix of most-loved classics and daring new writing. From Gwendolyn Brooks and Langston Hughes to Tupac Shakur, Natasha Trethewey, and many others, the voice of a culture comes through in this collection, one that is as talented, diverse, and varied as its people.

African American poems are like all other poems: beautiful, loving, provocative, thoughtful, and all those other adjectives I can think of. Poems know no boundaries. They, like all Earth citizens, were born in some country, grew up on some culture, then in their blooming became citizens of the Universe. Poems fly from heart to heart, head to head, to whisper a dream, to share a condolence, to congratulate, and to vow forever. The poems are true. They are translated and they are celebrated. They are sung, they are recited, they are delightful. They are neglected. They are forgotten. They are put away. Even in their fallow periods they sprout images. And fight to be revived. And spring back to life with a bit of sunshine and caring.
-Nikki Giovanni

Read

  • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Kwame Alexander
  • Tupac Shakur
  • Langston Hughes
  • Mari Evans
  • Kevin Young
  • Asha Bandele
  • Amiri Baraka

Hear

  • Ruby Dee
  • Novella Nelson
  • Nikki Giovanni
  • Elizabeth Alexander
  • Marilyn Nelson
  • Sonia Sanchez

And many, many, more

Nikki Giovanni is an award-winning poet, writer, and activist. She is the author of more than two dozen books for adults and children, including Bicycles, Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, Racism 101, Blues: For All the Changes, and Love Poems. Her children's book-plus-audio compilation Hip Hop Speaks to Children was awarded the NAACP Image Award. Her children's book Rosa, a picture-book retelling of the Rosa Parks story, was a Caldecott Honor Book and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. Both books were New York Times bestsellers. Nikki is a Grammy nominee for her spoken-word album The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection and has been nominated for the National Book Award. She has been voted Woman of the Year by Essence, Mademoiselle, and Ladies' Home Journal. She is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, where she teaches writing and literature.

Editorial Reviews

In this multimedia anthology, editor Nikki Giovanni brings together the words and sounds of one hundred superlative African American poems from Phillis Wheatley to the present. This book and CD package can be beginning of a lifetime's conversation with inspiring poetry.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402221118
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
11/01/2010
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
468,127
Product dimensions:
8.40(w) x 11.66(h) x 0.94(d)

Read an Excerpt

From the Introduction:

Poems are like clouds on a June morning or two scoops of chocolate ice cream on a sugar cone in August...something everyone can enjoy. Or maybe poems are your cold feet in December on your lover's back...he is in agony but he lets your feet stay...something like that requires a bit of love. Or could it be that poems are exactly like Santa Claus...the promise, the hope, the excitement of a reward, no matter how small, for a good deed done...or a mean deed from which we refrained. The promise of tomorrow. I don't know. It seems that poems are essential. Like football to Fall, baseball to Spring, tennis to Summer, love Anytime. Something you don't think too much about until it is in Season. Then you deliciously anticipate the perfection. African American poems are like all other poems: beautiful, loving, provocative, thoughtful, and all those other adjectives I can think of.

Poems know no boundaries. They, like all Earth citizens, were born in some country, grew up on some culture, then in their blooming became citizens of the Universe. Poems fly from heart to heart, head to head, to whisper a dream, to share a condolence, to congratulate, and to vow forever. The poems are true. They are translated and they are celebrated. They are sung, they are recited, they are delightful. They are neglected. They are forgotten. They are put away. Even in their fallow periods they sprout images. And fight to be revived. And spring back to life with a bit of sunshine and caring.

These poems, this book, admit I cheated. The idea of this and no more would simply not work for me. I needed these plus those. My mother's favorite poem by Robert Hayden, plus James Weldon Johnson beginning a world that included the longing of the unfree for a loving God. My own fun "Ego Tripping" reaching to embrace Margaret Walker's "For My People." "Train Rides" and "Nikki-Rosa" read by old and loving friends. But also the newness: Novella Nelson lending that sultry voice to the youngsters; Ruby Dee bringing her brilliance to the Gwendolyn Brooks cycle. My Virginia Tech Family wanted to participate: our president Dr. Charles Steger reading "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," recognizing all our souls "have grown deep like the rivers." We celebrate our Hips; we See A Negro Lady at a birthday celebration. Our friends from James Madison University and West Virginia University came to celebrate poetry with us, too. I love these poems so much. The only other thing I would have loved is Caroline Kennedy reading "A Clean Slate."

At the end of a loving day of laughter in Jeff Dalton's studio, when Clinton's makeup had taken forty years off some of us and twenty-five off others, we all came together with one last great cry: the Dean of our College; the Director of Honors; young, old, professional, professor, and recited in one great voice "We Real Cool." Yeah. We are. This book says Poetry Is For Everyone. What a Treat to be Snowbound with The 100* Best African American Poems (*but I cheated).

I did cheat.
It's true.
But I did not lie.

Nikki Giovanni
Poet
12 December 2009

Meet the Author

Nikki Giovanni is an award-winning poet, writer, and activist. She is the author of more than two dozen books for adults and children, including Bicycles, Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, Racism 101, Blues: For All the Changes, and Love Poems. Her children's book-plus-audio compilation Hip Hop Speaks to Children was awarded the NAACP Image Award. Her children's book Rosa, a picture-book retelling of the Rosa Parks story, was a Caldecott Honor Book and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. Both books were New York Times bestsellers. Nikki is a Grammy nominee for her spoken-word album The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection and has been nominated for the National Book Award. She has been voted Woman of the Year by Essence, Mademoiselle, and Ladies' Home Journal. She is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, where she teaches writing and literature.

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