cover image African American Poetry

African American Poetry

Edited by Arnold Rampersad and Marcellus Blount, illus. by Karen Barbour. Sterling, $14.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4027-1689-8

This addition to the Poetry for Young People series compiles poems by African-American writers, beginning with Phillis Wheatley in the 18th century and continuing through Harlem Renaissance writers and poets still writing today. Barbour combines collage, watercolor, and ink in her stylized images, which communicate gracefully with the poems. For Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask,” Barbour offers a solemn seated figure holding a smiling mask at knee level. She creates a celestial canvas of silver starbursts for James Weldon Johnson’s “The Creation,” and for Nikki Giovanni’s blissful “Winter Poem,” she shows the graceful, oblong face of a woman surrounded by snowflakes. Rampersad and Blount make the material accessible to readers by including vocabulary definitions, historical context, and thoughtful interpretations. Ages 8–up. (Jan.)