From the Publisher
“This is a fine collection whatever the need: for poetry shelves, black history collections, social consciousnessraising sessions, cultural literacy courses--or for anyone who likes the sight of words that shimmy shimmy shimmy on the page.” Kirkus Reviews
“A remarkable collection of poetry from the Harlem Renaissance and beyond.... this title is an important resource for those interested in poetry and in understanding the African American experience.” School Library Journal
“Poet Giovanni celebrates the great flowering of African American poetry when writers such as Langston Hughes, Robert Hayden, and Countee Cullen spoke for the people with powerful simplicity. The poetry sings for all of us with sadness, anger, humor, and grace.” Hazel Rochman, Booklist
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-A remarkable collection of poetry from the Harlem Renaissance and beyond, stitched together with commentary by Giovanni. Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Robert Hayden, Ntozake Shange, and Gwendolyn Brooks are among the powerful voices included. W.E.B. DuBois, not primarily known as a poet, is shown here to be one of accomplishment. After each poem, Giovanni points out, in a readable, almost conversational style, the poet's significance and relationship to the movement. The choice of poems is sometimes idiosyncratic, and the reminiscences are quite personal and sometimes quirky. But Giovanni is always on the mark, even when she pursues a tangent, and always comes back to the role of the Harlem Renaissance in influencing African American artists. As the book progresses, the poetry becomes more difficult, and those who seek to use it as a textbook should be prepared to help students understand some of the selections. There are some serious, provocative, and violent themes, but this title is an important resource for those interested in poetry and in understanding the African American experience.-Ruth K. MacDonald, Bay Path College, Longmeadow, MA
An annotated collection of poems from the Harlem Renaissance and beyond, presented by a master teacher and a terrific storyteller. Exhorting, cajoling, willing readers to listen and to hear, Giovanni (Put a Genie in a Jar, p. 447, etc.) starts each chapter with a poem or poems from an African-American writer such as Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Margaret Walker, or Ishmael Reed, covering 23 poets in all. She discusses, briefly, the lives of these writers, the context of African-American history, and the structure and sense of the poems in short chapters. The book is a conversationreaders can almost hear Giovanni talkingas she anticipates questions, clarifies obscurities, and utterly beguiles with her passion and personal feelings for the writers.
Much of the poetry is painful to read: Ntozake Shange on female genital mutilation; Gwendolyn Brooks on the murder of Emmett Till. There is an underlying joy, however, in tune with the music of the language. This is a fine collection whatever the need: for poetry shelves, black history collections, social consciousnessraising sessions, cultural literacy coursesor for anyone who likes the sight of words that shimmy shimmy shimmy on the page.