An engaging collection of writings that celebrates and reveals the historic Black Arts Movement.




Juanita’s (Virgin Soul, 2013, etc.) multigenre study guide invites readers to investigate, through fiction, poetry, drama, and essays, the many facets of the revolutionary black artistic and political movements of the 1960s and ’70s.

In the short story “The Black House,” a young woman’s first encounter with the Black Panther Party begins with nervous skepticism as she practices the Islamic greeting that the members use. She soon gets a quick introduction to sexual politics when a man ushers her into the kitchen with the words, “You belong in here.” After some resistance, she finds strength and commonality among the women of the group. The poem “(not) forgotten man” is a tribute to the author Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones), whom the speaker describes as a “quixotic nobody” who “blasted the bridges between black and white.” “Life is a Carousel” is a two-act play, set at an academic symposium and at an airport before and after it. In it, a 1960s Black Arts Movement activist (based on Baraka) spars with airline agents and younger black academics as he declaims a manifesto that modern readers will find to be both hopelessly dated and frustratingly timeless. When a younger professor says, “You lose credence when you refuse to update,” the old lion snaps back, “We call that co-opted.” The book ends with two essays, “Five Comrades in the Black Panther Party, 1967-1970” and “Meeting LeRoi Jones,” a dryly humorous story of hero worship and the thrill of a burgeoning movement. Overall, Juanita has created a dense and intriguing tribute to an important literary group whose influence still reverberates in American culture. Her works effectively embrace a wide variety of issues from gender politics to skin-color privilege within the black community. “Life is a Carousel,” for example, is a complex tapestry of intergenerational dialogue that punctures the pomposity of both the old and the young while also skewering academic conferences and probing issues of sex, sexuality, and gender identity. The discussion questions at the end of each work raise thought-provoking issues and encourage creativity.

An engaging collection of writings that celebrates and reveals the historic Black Arts Movement.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9716352-2-7

Page Count: 104

Publisher: EquiDistancePress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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