Poetry for Young People: African American Poetryby Karen Barbour, Arnold Rampersad, Marcellus Blount
The newest addition to the acclaimed Poetry for Young People series shines a light on the power and beauty of African-American verse. Co-editors Arnold Rampersad and Marcellus Blountboth towering figures in literary criticismhave put together an impressive anthology that will open up a world of wonderful word images for children. The classic poems come from some of the most influential and celebrated African-American writers in history, including Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Countee Cullen, Lucille Clifton, and James Baldwin.
Helpful and generous annotations, a lively introduction, and beautiful illustrations by Karen Barbour make this the ideal book to introduce young readers to the marvels of poetry.
"Slim and handsome, this beautifully constructed collection introduces 27 poets from the days of Phillis Wheatley to well-established poets writing in the 21st century. A four-page introduction outlines historical periods and influences. Presented chronologically, the entries begin with a paragraph describing the poet's life and work. Paul Laurence Dunbar, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, Maya Angelou, and others are joined by George Moses Horton, Mae V. Cowdery, Carolyn M. Rodgers, and others. A small glossary appears at the end of each poem. Barbour mixes a bit of collage with watercolor in spare drawings that meld folk and contemporary graphic elements. Stylized human figures are elongated and flat, most with large eyes but distinctive in character. They appear in side panels, vignettes, or full pages that are sometimes washed in soft color and other times set on white with no background. This elegant book nicely melds an overview of African American history, an introduction to these notable writers, and a bit of explanation of some poetry forms. It offers many uses in classrooms and libraries and is likely to be treasured by teens and adults perhaps even more than older children. Though only one or two selections represent the work of each poet, readers will find this a rich compendium in the inviting guise of a picture book.” School Library Journal
“A sampler worth sampling . . . an outstanding introductory overview . . . at least as valuable for its editorial additions as its lyric contents.” Kirkus Reviews
Praise for the Series:
“[S]atisfies in every way.”--School Library Journal
“Nothing short of breathtaking.”--Parents Magazine
“[T]he most ambitious attempt to bring poetry to children. . .”--Los Angeles Times
Meet the Author
Arnold Rampersad is the author of the widely acclaimed two-volume biography The Life of Langston Hughes as well as Days of Grace: A Memoir, co-authored with Arthur Ashe, and Jackie Robinson: A Biography. He has also edited several books, among them The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (with David Roessel). He is professor of English and Senior Associate Dean at Stanford University, an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society, and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship.
Marcellus Blount lives in New York City and is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He has published essays in PMLA, Callaloo, American Literary History, and Southern Review. He co-edited Representing Black Men with George Cunningham. His first study was entitled "In a Broken Tongue: Rediscovering African-American Poetry," and his current project is entitled Listening for My Name: African-American Men and the Politics of Friendship.
Karen Barbour has created illustrations for the New York Times and other magazines and newspapers. She has also written and illustrated several children's books, including Mr. Williams, which School Library Journal praised in a starred review: “The beauty of this book comes from the synergy of the spare narrative and rich artwork. The contrast makes each one more compelling; together they are powerful. [An] exquisite piece of oral history.” Karen lives in Inverness, CA. See more of her work at karenbarbour.com.
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