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Blues Poems (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets)

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Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375414589
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/2/2003
  • Series: Everyman's Library Pocket Poets
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 936,032
  • Product dimensions: 4.37 (w) x 6.49 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword

STANDARDS (Blues Poems before World War II)
LANGSTON HUGHES The Weary Blues
LANGSTON HUGHES Morning After
LANGSTON HUGHES Beale Street Love
LANGSTON HUGHES Song for a Dark Girl
LANGSTON HUGHES Midwinter Blues
LANGSTON HUGHES Too Blue
LANGSTON HUGHES Note on Commercial Theatre 26
FENTON JOHNSON Tired
CLAUDE MCKAY The Harlem Dancer
NANCY CUNARD Memory Blues
COUNTEE CULLEN Colored Blues Singer
STERLING BROWN Ma Rainey
STERLING BROWN Choices
NICOLÁS GUILLÉN High Brown
MELVIN B. TOLSON Sootie Joe
MAXWELL BODENHEIM Street-level Jazz
W. H. AUDEN Blues
W. H. AUDEN Funeral Blues
MURIEL RUKEYSER George Robinson: Blues
LEOPOLD SENGHOR Ndéssé, or “Blues”
OWEN DODSON Guitar
CHARLES EDWARD SMITH Blues Stanzas
RICHARD WRIGHT AND LANGSTON HUGHES Red Clay Blues
RICHARD WRIGHT The FB Eye Blues
VINCENT MCHUGH Dicty Blues
WARING CUNEY Down-home Boy
WARING CUNEY Carry Me Back
WARING CUNEY Let Me Tell You Blues Singers Something
GWENDOLYN BROOKS Queen of the Blues

SOME SONGS
W. C. HANDY St. Louis Blues
MAMIE SMITH Crazy Blues
MA RAINEY See See Rider Blues
BESSIE SMITH Empty Bed Blues
BESSIE SMITH Backwater Blues
BESSIE SMITH Gimme a Pigfoot
IDA COX Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues
RICHARD M. JONES Trouble in Mind
BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed
SON HOUSE Death Letter Blues
ROBERT JOHNSON Kindhearted Woman Blues
ROBERT JOHNSON Hellhound on My Trail
ROBERT JOHNSON Love in Vain
JIMMY RUSHING Sent for You Yesterday
LEADBELLY Good Morning Blues
MUDDY WATERS Hoochie Coochie Man
BIG MAMA THORNTON Hound Dog

FORM
JAYNE CORTEZ You Know
AMIRI BARAKA Look for You Yesterday, Here You Come Today
SONIA SANCHEZ Blues
SONIA SANCHEZ Blues Haikus
SONIA SANCHEZ Set. No. 2
NIKKI GIOVANNI Master Charge Blues
MARGARET WALKER Inflation Blues
QUINCY TROUPE Woke Up Crying the Blues
ELIZABETH ALEXANDER Letter: Blues
A. VAN JORDAN Cheating Woman Blues Haiku
ETHERIDGE KNIGHT Feeling Fucked/Up

FACING OFF
JAMES C. MORRIS The Blues
KENNETH REXROTH Married Blues
KENNETH PATCHEN Lonesome Boy Blues
HENRY DUMAS Concentration Camp Blues
HENRY DUMAS Outer Space Blues
DEREK WALCOTT Blues
SHERMAN ALEXIE Reservation Blues
GUSTAVO PÉREZ FIRMAT Bilingual Blues
MARILYN CHIN Blues on Yellow
CARL PHILLIPS Blue
GAYL JONES Deep Song
CALVIN FORBES Soledad
CALVIN FORBES Some Pieces
DARRELL BURTON Broom Song
ALLEN GINSBERG Sickness Blues
SANDRA MCPHERSON Bad Mother Blues
AFAA M. WEAVER Rambling
JUNE JORDAN Uncle Bull-boy
TRACIE MORRIS Get Away 1928
SEAN HILL Joe Chappel’s Foot Log Bottom Blues 1952
ALAN DUGAN Swing Shift Blues
BILLY COLLINS The Blues

FIGURES
SHERLEY ANNE WILLIAMS Any Woman’s Blues
CORNELIUS EADY I’m a Fool to Love You
CORNELIUS EADY Muddy Waters & the Chicago Blues
CORNELIUS EADY Leadbelly
KEVIN YOUNG Langston Hughes
WILLIE PERDOMO Song for Langston
STERLING PLUMPP Muddy Waters
HONORÉE FANONNE JEFFERS Big Mama Thornton
CHARLES WRIGHT Poem Almost Wholly in My Own Manner
JOHN BERRYMAN Dream Song [no. 40]
DAVID WOJAHN John Berryman Listening to Robert Johnson’s King of the Delta Blues, January 1972
FORREST HAMER Arrival
DAVID RIVARD Not Guilty
ALFRED ENCARNACION Bulosan Listens to a Recording of Robert Johnson

FREIGHT
AL YOUNG The Blues Don’t Change
G. E. PATTERSON Cinderella
YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA Annabelle
YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA For You, Sweetheart, I’ll Sell Plutonium Reactors
YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA Woman, I Got the Blues
CATHERINE BOWMAN Hard-Luck Resume
THOMAS MCGRATH Gone Away Blues
ROBERT CREELEY Broken Back Blues
JOSEPH BRODSKY Blues
WILLIAM MATTHEWS Narcissus Blues
RAYMOND R. PATTERSON Special Pain Blues
TOI DERRICOTTE Blackbottom
MAJOR JACKSON How to Listen
JANE COOPER Wanda’s Blues
ALBERT MURRAY From Aubades
NATASHA TRETHEWEY At the Station
JEFF FALLIS Nosferatu Blues
CHARLES SIMIC Bed Music
JOHN YAU Domestic Bliss
BOB KAUFMAN Blues for Hal Waters
BOB KAUFMAN Heavy Water Blues
WANDA COLEMAN Heavy Daughter Blues
TERRANCE HAYES The Things-No-One-Knows Blues
ANTHONY WALTON The Encyclopedia of Rhythm and Blues

FINALE (For Bessie Smith)
ALVIN AUBERT Bessie
ROBERT HAYDEN Homage to the Empress of the Blues
JACKIE KAY Twelve Bar Bessie
MYRON O’HIGGINS Blues for Bessie
WARING CUNEY Bessie Smith
COLLEEN J. MCELROY Mae West Chats It Up with Bessie Smith
MICHAEL S. HARPER Last Affair: Bessie’s Blues Song

List of Authors
Acknowledgments

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2003

    Fantastic historical value

    Excellent collection of poems that relate to the human spirit and condition and the prevailing determination of the soul in a difficult world.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2013

    Melodies for the Soul!

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2004

    SLOPPY EDITING JOB

    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.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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