The Garden Thrives: 20th Century African American Poetry

Clarence Major, Author Harper Perennial $20 (512p) ISBN 978-0-06-095121-4
There are nearly 100 contributors in this massive companion volume to the well-received Calling the Wind: 20th-Century African-American Short Stories, also edited by Major. Along with the expected contributors (e.g., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, Audre Lorde and Rita Dove), works by less-recognized writers appear. There are the proud, gentle poems of Angela Weld Grimk (1880-1958); Gerald Barrax's quiet lyrics; cutting portraits of New York City by Henry Dumas (1934-1968); Ellease Southerland's explorations of her spiritual and physical relationship with her African heritage; Essex Hemphill's tragicomic image of nailing Barbie doll heads to telephone poles. In his overview, Major, a professor at UC-Davis, traces African American poetry back to slavery and spirituals but also cites the influence of white poets (e.g., William Carlos Williams) in the work of several contributors. He also considers less worthy efforts, particularly early in this century, in this valuable resource. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/29/1996
Release date: 02/01/1996
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