A splendid, rattling good collection of African-American poetry. Represented are 25 poets (and 35 poems), some of whom are household names--W.E.B. Du Bois, Maya Angelou, Rita Dove, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, and Langston Hughes. There are examples of the influential Harlem Renaissance poets--Angelina Weld GrimkÆ’, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Jean Toomer, for example--and the first known poem composed by an African-American, Lucy Terry's ""Bars Fight."" The brimming anger of James M. Whitfield comes through, along with the injustice of lines that had to be transcribed by others because African-Americans were denied by law the right to put poetry to paper. Clinton includes short biographical sketches and critical snippets on every poet, and these only further the impact of the tragic, warm, sad, and ferocious voices of great presence that survived beyond all odds. Alcorn's elegant illustrations have an expressiveness that honors the words.