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Slave Songs and the Birth of African American Poetry
     

Slave Songs and the Birth of African American Poetry

by L. Ramey
 

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This book restores the slaves' songs to their rightful place in American literature for their intrinsic value as lyric poetry, and as a touchstone of the American imagination.

Overview

This book restores the slaves' songs to their rightful place in American literature for their intrinsic value as lyric poetry, and as a touchstone of the American imagination.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A final quintet of publications attests to interest in the lasting effects of 19th-century culture and ideas. Lauri Ramey, Slave Songs and the Birth of African American Poetry (Palgrave), presents a valuable study of the formal and thematic characteristics of slave songs, most of which were collected and published in the latter half of the century. Ramey explains how they have been marginalized in the disciplinary study of folklore, religion, and music while also making a strong case for reading them as poetry, as literary texts worthy of inclusion in the canon. In a series of thematically and topically arranged chapters, she demonstrates their influence on Paul Laurence Dunbar and on a wide array of later poets." - American Literary Scholarship"The corpus of slave songs is enormous, and their impact on African American literature has long been acknowledged. But little has been written about the connection between these songs and American literature. Slave songs are usually marginalized in, or omitted altogether from, literary anthologies and studies of verse. Even classic, if now dated, works examining the songs - including Lawrence Levine's Black Culture and Black Consciousness (CH, Jul'77) and Dena Epstein's Sinful Tunes and Spirituals (CH, Sep'78) - fail to discuss the poetic aspects of the songs. Ramey (CSU, Los Angeles) attempts to fill this glaring void with this erudite yet readable volume. The author provides provocative analyses of some of the individual songs (e.g., "Poor Pilgrim" and "Steal Away"). More importantly, she sheds light on their originality and their African roots, including the call-and-response tradition. In so doing, she makes a strong argument for studying these important pieces in light of their lyric poetic qualities. This is a book for all who are interested in African American literature and in poetry more broadly." - Choice

"Ramey argues that spirituals and slave songs are central to the literary legacy of the U.S., both in their own right as a form that goes to the heart of the American experience and as a major reference of the American imagination, through their influence on black and white writers alike. This book restores the spiritual to its rightful place in the American literary canon and will certainly stimulate scholarly interest in the spiritual as art form." - F. Abiola Irele, Harvard University

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780230100343
Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan US
Publication date:
07/15/2012
Edition description:
2008
Pages:
197
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Lauri Ramey is Professor of African American Literature and Culture, Creative Writing and American Studies, California State University at Los Angeles. She is the author of Black British Writing, with R. Victoria Arana; Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone: Innovative Poetry by African Americans, with Aldon Lynn Nielsen; and The Heritage Series of Black Poetry, 1962-1975: A Research Compendium.

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