Books by Michael R. Strickland

MY OWN SONG by Michael R. Strickland
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

Strickland's second anthology of poems about music (Poems That Sing to You, 1993) contains 51 selections, including 6 of his own and 10 from some of the publisher's other authors. Most of the selections address singing, dancing, and playing instruments, but some (Shakespeare's ``Sonnet 130'') use music as only one of many images surrounding an entirely different subject. The scratchboard illustrations (reproduced in murky black-and-white) point to a young audience, but the book will be more useful as a resource for teachers, since the poems range in accessibility from Eleanor Farjeon's ``Music'' (``Can you dance? I love to dance!'') to William Blake's ``How sweet I roam'd from field to field,'' and some enigmatic work by Edvidge Giunta and Lisa Bahlinger. While there is much here that is first-rate, e.g., James Weldon Johnson's ``O Black and Unknown Bards,'' there is also a great deal that is unremarkable. The graceless design has three ill-assorted typefaces per page (four, when italics are used), blocks of text plunked down without regard for balance between type and leading, poems set almost into the gutter, and long pieces crammed on to one page. This is an uneven set of variations, poorly presented, on a marvelous theme. (Poetry. 9- 11) Read full book review >
AFRICAN-AMERICAN POETS by Michael R. Strickland
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

This solid and sensible collective biography of ten African-American poets, from Phillis Wheatley to Rita Dove, is nicely done indeed. Librarians, teachers, and students will welcome this collection, with essays that are just the right length for citing in reports. Each essay outlines the life and covers the work of the poet, and each ends, appropriately, with a complete poem. Besides Wheatley and Dove, Strickland (Poems that Sing to You, 1993, etc.) includes Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka (whose adopted name is translated, erroneously, as ``blessed'' for Ameer and ``prince'' for Baraka— a simple reversal of the meanings), Haki R. Madhubuti, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, and Eloise Greenfield. The abbreviated format and concentration on the poets' words rather than on their lives occasionally leads to an oversimplification of their influences or of the difficulties they suffered, but this is still a great collection-builder. (b&w photos, notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 11+) Read full book review >