Soulscript: A Collection of Classic African American Poetry

Overview

Black poets from the early twentieth century and onward come together for a moving anthology, edited and organized by the late, revered poet June Jordan.

First published in 1970, soulscript is a poignant, panoramic collection of poetry from some of the most eloquent voices in the art. Selected for their literary excellence and by the dictates of Jordan’s heart, these works tell the story of both collective ...

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Overview

Black poets from the early twentieth century and onward come together for a moving anthology, edited and organized by the late, revered poet June Jordan.

First published in 1970, soulscript is a poignant, panoramic collection of poetry from some of the most eloquent voices in the art. Selected for their literary excellence and by the dictates of Jordan’s heart, these works tell the story of both collective and personal experiences, in Jordan’s words, “in tears, in rage, in hope, in sonnet, in blank/free verse, in overwhelming rhetorical scream.”
Soulscript features works by Jordan and other luminaries like Gwendolyn Brooks, Countee Cullen, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes, Gayl Jines, James Weldon Johnson, Audre Lorde, Claude McKay, Ishmael Reed, Sonia Sanchez, and Richard Wright, as well as the fresh voices of a turbulent era’s younger writers. Celebrated spoken-word poet Staceyann Chin, an original cast member of Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, has also added an introduction that speaks to Jordan’s legacy, helping to further cement soulscript as a visionary compilation that has already become a modern classic.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In political journalism that cuts like razors, in essays that blast the darkness of confusion with relentless light; in poetry that looks as closely into lilac buds as into death’s mouth . . . she has comforted, explained, described, wrestled with, taught and made us laugh out loud before we wept . . . I am talking about a span of forty years of tireless activism coupled with and fueled by flawless art.”
Toni Morrison, on June Jordan
Library Journal
Assembled by editor Jordan in 1970, this anthology includes works by Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright, Nikki Giovanni, and numerous others. The poems are divided into multiple categories such as Tomorrow Words Today, Black Eyes on a Fallowland, and Attitudes of the Soul. Good stuff. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767918466
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/2/2004
  • Series: Harlem Moon Classics Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

JUNE JORDAN was an internationally recognized and beloved writer, teacher, and activist. The author of many books of poetry and essays, including Kissing God Goodbye, Haruko/Love Poems, Some of Us Did Not Die, and Affirmative Acts, she died from breast cancer in 2002.

Harlem Moon Classics Series Advisor: Gina Dent, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz.

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Read an Excerpt

MY PEOPLE by Langston Hughes

The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

UNCLE BULL-BOY by June Jordan

His brother after dinner once a year would play the piano short and tough in white shirt plaid suspenders green tie and checked trousers.
Two teeth were gold. His eyes were pink with alcohol. His fingers thumped for Auld Lang Syne.
He played St. Louis Woman
Boogie, Blues, the light pedestrian.

But one night after dinner after chitterlings and pigs' feet after bourbon and rum and rye after turnip greens and mustard greens and sweet potato pie
Bullboy looking everywhere realized his brother was not there.

Who would emphasize the luxury of ice cream by the gallon who would repeat effusively the glamour not the gall of five degrees outstanding on the wall?
Which head would nod and then recall the crimes the apples stolen from the stalls the soft coal stolen by the pile?
Who would admire the eighteenth pair of forty dollar shoes?
Who could extol their mother with good brandy as his muse?

His brother dead from drinking
Bullboy drank to clear his thinking saw the roach inside the riddle.
Soon the bubbles from his glass were the only bits of charm which overcame his folded arms.

AMERICAN GOTHIC by Paul Vesey
To Satch
(The legendary Satchel Page, one of the star pitchers in Negro baseball)

Sometimes I feel like I will never stop
Just go on forever
Til one fine mornin'

I'm gonna reach up and grab me a handfulla stars
Swing out my long lean leg
And whip three hot strikes burnin' down the heavens
And look over at God and say
How about that!

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
Reflections 3
Monument in black 4
Foxey lady 5
Epilogue 6
I am waiting 7
April 4, 1968 8
Death prosecuting 10
No way out 11
Hands 12
The air is dirty 13
Dedication to the final confrontation 14
Tripart 15
Many die here 16
Satori 18
My people 21
Mother to son 22
Fruit of the flower 23
Those winter Sundays 25
Nikki-Rosa 26
The bean eaters 27
On the birth of my son, Malcolm Coltrane 28
Award 30
Five winters age 31
Uncle Bull-boy 32
To my son Parker, asleep in the next room 34
Song of the Son 36
Preface to a twenty volume suicide note 37
Blues note 41
At that moment (for Malcolm X) 43
Runagate runagate 45
Frederick Douglass 49
Malcolm X - an autobiography 50
In time of crisis 53
The ballad of Rudolph Reed 54
Blind and deaf old woman 57
After winter 58
Holyghost woman : an ole nomad moving thru the South 60
Second Avenue encounter 61
If you saw a Negro lady 62
Ameican gothic 67
Counterpoint 68
The creation 69
Reapers 73
Beware : do not read this poem 74
Mud in Vietnam 76
lXVXII 80
Of faith : confessional 81
Brown river, smile 83
The end of man is his beauty 88
As a possible lover 90
This age 91
Sonnet 92
Madhouse 93
Number 5 - December 97
Poem 98
Song 99
Naturally 100
Summer Oracle 101
Iron years : for money 103
Off d pig 104
A poem looking for a reader 107
Moonlight moonlight 110
Coal 111
Air 112
The distant drum 113
It's here in the 114
This morning 115
Georia dusk 119
The Louisiana weekly #4 121
Right on : white America 122
Rhythm is a groove (#2) 123
Now, all you children 124
Incident 125
From riot rimes : USA 126
From 26 ways of looking at a blackman 127
Riot laugh & I talk 128
I substitute for the dead lecturer 129
I have seen black hands 131
In memoriam : Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (part one) 134
Motto 139
The White House 140
O Daedalus, fly away home 141
November cotton flower 142
I know I'm not sufficiently obscure 143
Sorrow is the only faithful one 144
An Agony. As now 145
Midway 147
One thousand nine hundred & sixty - eight winters 148
Yet do I marvel 149
Dream variation 150
We have been believers 151
Nocturne varial 153
From the dark tower 154
We wear the mask 155
If we must die 156
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