THE FORERUNNERS: Black Poets in America by

THE FORERUNNERS: Black Poets in America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This small anthology of sixteen black poets is a by-product of a Howard University poetry festival dedicated to Langston Hughes. The poets asked to read their own and Hughes' work on that occasion were, according to 'poet Dudley Randall's preface, ""a bridge between generations--lyricists who carried the baton of poetic tradition from the Renaissance into the forties and fifties, and created the foundation of the sixties and seventies."" Critic Addison Gayle, Jr. has contributed a short essay on the forging of a racial consciousness in the black American, starting with a bathetic little verse by an 18th century poet, one Jupiter Hammon, who thanked God for delivering him into slavery at the hands of the superior white race. Richard Wright provides his base note, and Gayle's a hard man on writers ""who attempt to lose the black experience in abstraction and surrealism."" There is some superb writing in this anthology, with Gwendolyn Brooks' ""Life of Lincoln West"" standing well above the crowd. Also here: Samuel Allen, Russell Atkins, Ama Bontemps, Sterling Brown, Frank Marshall Davis, Owen Dodson, Robert Hayden, Naomi Long Madgett, Margaret Walker, Jay Wright. Some are angry, some got the blues, some are funny, some just sly, and they all celebrate the souls of black folk in literature which--sorry, Gayle--has no color at all.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Howard Univ. Press