Blues Poems (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets)by Kevin Young
Born in African American work songs, field hollers, and the powerful legacy of the spirituals, the blues traveled the country from the Mississippi delta to “Sweet Home Chicago,” forming the backbone of American music. In this anthology–the first devoted exclusively to blues poems–a wide array of poets pay tribute to the form and offer… See more details below
Born in African American work songs, field hollers, and the powerful legacy of the spirituals, the blues traveled the country from the Mississippi delta to “Sweet Home Chicago,” forming the backbone of American music. In this anthology–the first devoted exclusively to blues poems–a wide array of poets pay tribute to the form and offer testimony to its lasting power.
The blues have left an indelible mark on the work of a diverse range of poets: from “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes and “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden, to “Blues on Yellow” by Marilyn Chin and “Reservation Blues” by Sherman Alexie. Here are blues-influenced and blues-inflected poems from, among others, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, June Jordan, Richard Wright, Nikki Giovanni, Charles Wright, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Cornelius Eady. And here, too, are classic song lyrics–poems in their own right–from Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, Ma Rainey, and Muddy Waters.
The rich emotional palette of the blues is fully represented here in verse that pays tribute to the heart and humor of the music, and in poems that swing with its history and hard-bitten hope.
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Excellent collection of poems that relate to the human spirit and condition and the prevailing determination of the soul in a difficult world.
These are probably the richest and evocative poems I've ever laid eyes on! It's rare that you find a volume of poetry dedicated to what some have deemed the bible for black folks (after the one and only Book). The blues is a sort of pain that can make you feel good and lets you know that you are not the only one who feels the burden of human emotion. This portable, pocket-sized (maybe a little larger than your actual pocket) is one that should be treasured for years to come.
I've read a few poems by Kevin Young in anthologies and liked them, so I bought this anthology with high expectations. Alas, I'm about as disappointed in it as I was in some of the segments of the recent PBS blues 'mini-series', where a favorite movie director of mine, blues aficionado Martin Scorcese, botched a promising project! It's not that I object to most of Young's selections (although some are questionable); however, as someone who is rather familiar with African-American literature, I'm at a loss trying to figure out why some of the most important contemporary poetry concerning the blues is not included! And I'm not talking about obscure works -- I'm thinking, for example, of Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize-winner, former U.S. poet laureate and arguably not only our greatest living Black poet but one of the best American poets regardless of race. Did Mr. Young never come across Ms. Dove's marvelous poem 'Canary', about Billie Holiday, or her funny observation of blues legend Champion Jack Dupree in 'Shakespeare Say'? And there are other glaring omissions in this book that indicate Kevin Young did not do his homework. What a pity -- this sloppy (or lazy?) editing job really gave ME the blues.