PLAY EBONY, PLAY IVORY by Henry Dumas

PLAY EBONY, PLAY IVORY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A combination of lyrical invocation, blues beat, and repressed anger mark the first (and final) collection of the dead black poet: ""Every year the fire bird comes./ It is not his beauty that I meditate,/ Rather his awesome message!// 'I burn them up now./ Someday I will get you.' "" Rhyming funk (""I say, when I turned your switch, baby, didn't get no juice/ Well if you got another meter checker, I guess I have to turn you loose"") alternates with Biblical-sounding songs of lotus and diadems and temples, alternates with African spirit calling, alternates with tender love poems (""Here take the space where my/ heart goes/ I give that to you too."") Behind all this is a kind of humor-mediated rage that makes its point without going beyond the bounds of poetry into hysteria: ""So when the spaceship land/ I ain't running too fast/. . . guess I wait and see/ All I know they might look just like me."" This is a strong, uneven, but always interesting book of poems.

Pub Date: Aug. 26th, 1974
Publisher: Random House