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The Book of American Negro Poetry

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This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.


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This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.

53 review for The Book of American Negro Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rowena

    One of my favourite poets, James Weldon Johnson, edited this anthology of African-American poetry, which was published in 1922. I was impressed by this collection and the vision that James Weldon Johnson had in compiling it; he desired African-Americans to be proud of their heritage, and he realized that one way for this to happen is to introduce the world to their poetry. Here are some excerpts from James Weldon Johnson’s preface to the anthology: “There is, perhaps, a better excuse for giving One of my favourite poets, James Weldon Johnson, edited this anthology of African-American poetry, which was published in 1922. I was impressed by this collection and the vision that James Weldon Johnson had in compiling it; he desired African-Americans to be proud of their heritage, and he realized that one way for this to happen is to introduce the world to their poetry. Here are some excerpts from James Weldon Johnson’s preface to the anthology: “There is, perhaps, a better excuse for giving in Anthology of American Negro Poetry to the public than can be offered for many of the anthologies that have recently been issued. The public, generally speaking, does not know that there are American Negro poets–to supply this lack of information is, alone, a work worthy of somebody’s effort.” “A people may become great through many means, but there is only one measure by which its greatness is recognized and acknowledged. The final measure of the greatness of all peoples is the amount and standard of the literature and art they have produced. The world does not know that a people is great until that people produces great literature and art. No people that has produced great literature and art has ever been looked upon by the world as distinctly inferior.” I was introduced to an array of poets and a diversity of writing styles and topics. Below is one of my favourite poems from the collection. It Was Not Fate – William H. A. Moore It was not fate which overtook me, Rather a wayward, wilful wind That blew hot for awhile And then, as the even shadows came, blew cold. What pity it is that a man grown old in life’s dreaming Should stop, e’en for a moment, to look into a woman’s eyes. And I forgot! Forgot that one’s heart must be steeled against the east wind. Life and death alike come out of the East: Life as tender as young grass, Death as dreadful as the sight of clotted blood. I shall go back into the darkness, Not to dream but to seek the light again. I shall go by paths, mayhap, On roads that wind around the foothills Where the plains are bare and wild And the passers-by come few and far between. I want the night to be long, the moon blind, The hills thick with moving memories, And my heart beating a breathless requiem For all the dead days I have lived. When the Dawn comes — Dawn, deathless, dreaming – I shall will that my soul must be cleansed of hate, I shall pray for strength to hold children close to my heart, I shall desire to build houses where the poor will know shelter, comfort, beauty. And then may I look into a woman’s eyes And find holiness, love and the peace which passeth understanding

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mohamed

    "A people may become great through many means, but there is only one measure by which its greatness is recognized and acknowledged. The final measure of the greatness of all peoples is the amount and standard of the literature and art they have produced. The world does not know that a people Is great until that people produces great literature and art. No people that has produced great literature and art has ever been looked upon by the world as distinctly Inferior." I really liked these poems "T "A people may become great through many means, but there is only one measure by which its greatness is recognized and acknowledged. The final measure of the greatness of all peoples is the amount and standard of the literature and art they have produced. The world does not know that a people Is great until that people produces great literature and art. No people that has produced great literature and art has ever been looked upon by the world as distinctly Inferior." I really liked these poems "Two Points of View FROM this low-lying valley; Oh, how sweet And cool and calm and great is life, I ween, There on yon mountain-throne—that sun-gold crest! From this uplifted, mighty mountain-seat: How bright and still and warm and soft and green Seems yon low lily-vale of peace and rest!" or even "The Road to the Bow EVER and ever anon, After the black storm, the eternal, beauteous bow! Brother, to rosy-painted mists that arch beyond, Blithely I go. My brows men laureled and my lyre Twined with immortal ivy for one little rippling song; My “House of Golden Leaves” they praised and “passionate fire”— But, Friend, the way is long! Onward and onward, up! away! Though Fear flaunt all his banners in my face, And my feet stumble, lo! the Orphean Day! Forward by God’s grace! These signs are still before me: “Fear,” “Danger,” “Unprecedented,” and I hear black “No” Still thundering, and “Churl.” Good Friend, I rest me here— Then to the glittering bow! Loometh and cometh Hate in wrath, Mailed Wrong, swart Servitude and Shame with bitter rue, Nathless a Negro poet’s feet must tread the path The winged god knew. Thus, my true Brother, dream-led, I Forefend the anathema, following the span. I hold my head as proudly high As any man."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    You can get this for free for your e-reader you know. Even from Amazonian overlords.

  4. 4 out of 5

    B. P. Rinehart

    This book, published in 1922, was one of the earliest, if not the first, anthology of African-American poets. It has nearly every important Black poet of that generation and previous except for Langston Hughes (who would not publish his first book of poetry until 1926) and Countee Cullen. It has some of the greats of the pre-Hughes era like Paul Laurence Dunbar (who most people at that time thought of when they heard the words "Negro poet"), and not so remembered. The editor of this book is Jame This book, published in 1922, was one of the earliest, if not the first, anthology of African-American poets. It has nearly every important Black poet of that generation and previous except for Langston Hughes (who would not publish his first book of poetry until 1926) and Countee Cullen. It has some of the greats of the pre-Hughes era like Paul Laurence Dunbar (who most people at that time thought of when they heard the words "Negro poet"), and not so remembered. The editor of this book is James Weldon Johnson the man celebrated now for writing the "Black National Anthem" Lift Every Voice and Sing. He also has a good selection of poetry in here. If I may make a personal preference I would seek out Claude McKay's "If We Must Die" which became a national favorite during WWI&II as he was often requested to read that poem on national and military radio stations. This is hilarious considering some of his views. In the end I recommend this to everyone for historical value but also because dialect aside a good selection of these poems are pretty good and it shows people poetry with Black people did not begin with "The Bus Boy Poet".

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is a great book of poetry! The beginning "preface" is more of a combination history lesson, critique and introduction of the poets that was a lot longer than I expected. The author even says that while he intended the preface to be short, in the end he decided there needed to be background to the poets and their poems as well as "Negro poetry" itself. While it was a bit long, I did enjoy reading the preface as I learned a lot. The poetry in this book is wonderful to read. It is interesting This is a great book of poetry! The beginning "preface" is more of a combination history lesson, critique and introduction of the poets that was a lot longer than I expected. The author even says that while he intended the preface to be short, in the end he decided there needed to be background to the poets and their poems as well as "Negro poetry" itself. While it was a bit long, I did enjoy reading the preface as I learned a lot. The poetry in this book is wonderful to read. It is interesting to see the topics the poets wrote about, ranging from current events of the time, to love, anger, sadness and joy. Some poems have plenty of levity, while others take on a more somber tone. You will be sure to find many emotions in between too.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kristi

    Beautiful What a great compilation of poems and prose. Such a diverse group of writers. This book paints a clear picture of pain, loss, celebration, and love in times where little hope could be found. For all people interested in black history, this is a must read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Talea

    Eye opening and true. In this day and age it is a necessary read. To understand ourselves we need to see the truth of our past and poets have a way of cutting into those truths in a way that essays and lectures don't often reach. These poems reach the heart of men and women dealing with oppression, love, joy, anger, sorrow, faith, and all things that encompass what it means to be human. The fact that these poets aren't as known as Keats, Wadsworth, or Longfellow is a shame! Sadly it showed me ju Eye opening and true. In this day and age it is a necessary read. To understand ourselves we need to see the truth of our past and poets have a way of cutting into those truths in a way that essays and lectures don't often reach. These poems reach the heart of men and women dealing with oppression, love, joy, anger, sorrow, faith, and all things that encompass what it means to be human. The fact that these poets aren't as known as Keats, Wadsworth, or Longfellow is a shame! Sadly it showed me just how far we've yet to go in educating our children of the fullness of our history, of our collective history as Americans, and embrace ALL the passion, hatred, love, and humanity of us all.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I was searching for a book to fulfill a portion of my readers challenge and stumbled upon this amazing compilation. There are over 30 poets and 177 beautifully detailed works in this collection. "The Haunted Oak" is such a fitting title and keenly distressing. "Calling the Doctor" reminds me of all the things Grandma use to mention when she would talk about curing ills. And "Miss Melerlee"- "Dat’s not yo’ name, but it ought to be!" is just so fun to recite. Throughout this book, the cadence is b I was searching for a book to fulfill a portion of my readers challenge and stumbled upon this amazing compilation. There are over 30 poets and 177 beautifully detailed works in this collection. "The Haunted Oak" is such a fitting title and keenly distressing. "Calling the Doctor" reminds me of all the things Grandma use to mention when she would talk about curing ills. And "Miss Melerlee"- "Dat’s not yo’ name, but it ought to be!" is just so fun to recite. Throughout this book, the cadence is beautiful on the tongue and the words astute. I give this 5 stars. I was blessed to find this free on Amazon for Kindle.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

    A great book of poetry!!!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Suezy Proctor

    An anthology of voices I’ve never heard, whose poetry sings a song I have felt in my gut for years. James Weldon Johnson, African American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter and civil rights activist, and early leader of the NAACP (1917), is a favorite writer in poems and his anthologies. God’s Trombones remains one of my all-time favorite collections of spirituals of black culture. This book will not be shelved. It is one to be revisited again and again. This morning, I read again fo An anthology of voices I’ve never heard, whose poetry sings a song I have felt in my gut for years. James Weldon Johnson, African American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter and civil rights activist, and early leader of the NAACP (1917), is a favorite writer in poems and his anthologies. God’s Trombones remains one of my all-time favorite collections of spirituals of black culture. This book will not be shelved. It is one to be revisited again and again. This morning, I read again for the umpteenth time, Dead Fires: If this is peace, this dead and laden thing, Then better far the hateful fret, the sting. Better the sound forever seeing balm Than this grey calm! Is this pain’s surcease? Better far the ache, The long-drawn dreary day, the night’s white wake, Better the choking sigh, he sobbing breath Than passion’s death!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    Released in 1922, The Book of American Negro Poetry was the first black literary anthology published in the United States. With the exception of Langston Hughes, it contains every important African-American poet of the period, along with several otherwise lost to obscurity, such as William H.A. Moore and Roscoe C. Jamison. Editor James Weldon Johnson's long introduction is worth reading all on its own. He discusses the concept of cultural appropriation decades before the term was coined and prov Released in 1922, The Book of American Negro Poetry was the first black literary anthology published in the United States. With the exception of Langston Hughes, it contains every important African-American poet of the period, along with several otherwise lost to obscurity, such as William H.A. Moore and Roscoe C. Jamison. Editor James Weldon Johnson's long introduction is worth reading all on its own. He discusses the concept of cultural appropriation decades before the term was coined and provides a critical in-depth survey of black American poetry from Phillis Wheatley through the current Harlem Renaissance. The poems themselves are incredibly diverse, exploring not only racial topics but also themes of nature, gratitude, romance, religion, and simple everyday life. Some notes on the LibriVox audiobook: Lynda Marie Neilson was terrible. She's an elderly white Canadian trying to read poetry written in vintage AAVE and the result is just impossible to listen to. They should've given all the dialect poems to Kahlil B and David Gore. They were excellent.

  12. 4 out of 5

    PAUL VAUGHN

    Great range of themes, emotions I think this work is indispensable. I was introduced to many poets, and had a wonderful time looking up their histories, careers, politics, activism, and other writings. Anyone who's interested in poetry would enjoy this book. Topics range from the merits of a family meal to the injustice of slavery and the joy of freedom. Many Biblical and mythological references, too.

  13. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is an early Negro Poetry anthology. James Weldon Johnson's insights are spot on. He traces African American poetry from slavery through the pre-Harlem Renaissance. It has a couple of surprises: Claude McKay and Louisville poet Joseph Seamon Cotter, Jr. (Cotter Homes).

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matt Miles

    This collection of poetry provides a necessary and enlightening voice in history too often missing in Western Literature. The poems successfully capture a time, place, and people; none of which should be forgotten.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alysia

    This book changed my life at an early age. I LOVE poetry and always have. In the beginning of finding that love I was introduced to the poetry of my ancestors and that I will never forget. For me it was emotional, funny, and a learning experience through the poetry of my kin!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Enjoyed tremendously It is no wonder that these people of color can relate their pain so vividly as most of the poem's were written during Jim Crow days. What is more wonderful are the poem's of sheer joy that are here published.

  17. 5 out of 5

    G L Meisner

    This collection was amazing. I can't believe that these authors and poets aren't required reading in history class or English during high school. As it was I only knew of one author and now I so very much want to find more works by many of them.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Read: Paul Laurence Dunbar, James Edwin Campbell, Daniel Webster Davis, James Weldon Johnson, Fenton Johnson, Claude McKay, Georgia Douglass Johnson, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, James David Corrothers, Jesse Fauset, Anne Spencer, Sterling Brown, Helene Johnson

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jude Brigley

    I hate the title and the introduction is patronising and uncomfortable but the poetry is just great.As an historical document it offers insight into another time.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angelene Anderson

    It's good if you can get passed the spelling

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Juilano

    I enjoyed the poetry. Some of it took a bit to get through due to the writing style however, once I was able to get through the spelling, each one was fantastic.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karen Wood

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tanika

  24. 5 out of 5

    Roz

  25. 5 out of 5

    John Komenda

  26. 5 out of 5

    Les Johnson

  27. 4 out of 5

    Monica

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christopher R Acquavella

  29. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Garcia

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Keilty

  31. 5 out of 5

    Nina

  32. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  33. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  34. 4 out of 5

    Phillip

  35. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  36. 5 out of 5

    Isabel Geathers

  37. 5 out of 5

    Stephy

  38. 5 out of 5

    Erica Perry

  39. 4 out of 5

    Yasmin

  40. 4 out of 5

    Jbondandrews

  41. 4 out of 5

    Steve Leach

  42. 4 out of 5

    Craig Werner

  43. 4 out of 5

    Sean Cooper

  44. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  45. 4 out of 5

    Steven

  46. 4 out of 5

    Robert Lashley

  47. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  48. 5 out of 5

    Sibhs

  49. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  50. 4 out of 5

    Parker Hartzog

  51. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  52. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Shorey

  53. 4 out of 5

    Heather

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