cover image Poemhood: Our Black Revival

Poemhood: Our Black Revival

Edited by Taylor Byas, Erica Martin, and Amber McBride. HarperTeen, $19.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-06-322528-2

Byas (I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times, for adults), Martin (And We Rise), and McBride (Gone Wolf) gather 37 writers to present an artfully arranged anthology that seeks to encapsulate the depth and diversity of the Black experience through poetry. Included alongside works by contemporary contributors such as Kwame Alexander, Nikki Giovanni, and Sonia Sanchez are poems by James Baldwin (1924–1987), Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000), and Audre Lorde (1934–1992), among others. “By placing poems written sixty years ago beside poems written today,” the editors assert in an introduction, “words are able to reach across time and converse on the page.” This time-spanning theme is evident in the curation of the entries, as well as within many of the poems themselves, as when Tony Keith Jr. writes, “My ancestor is a nineteen-year-old Black boy/ who wrote poems and read books and smiled at me/ when saying his mother was beautiful,” in “Views for Damani.” Brief outros by the volume’s editors follow each poem, providing information about the selection, including illuminating historical context and thought-provoking structural analysis. This deep and complex assemblage of Black poetry culminates in a joyful, painful, and emotionally rich experience. Ages 13–up. (Jan.)