Cover Image: African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song (LOA #333)

African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song (LOA #333)

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Member Reviews

670 poems! 250 poets! 1150 pages!

There is a lot to digest. Both in number of pages and content. The collection is divided into eight sections by time period. From 1770 to 2020. All the poets have a biography part. Which makes you get to know each individual better. Each section explains the historical period in which the poems were written. It connects poems and poets to the historical events. I started by reading random poems, but soon found that I benefited more from the collection by reading from beginning to end. To see the connections more clearly. It also did not take long before I realized that I have BIG holes in my knowledge of history.
I have spent a few weeks reading the book. I have not read everything. There have been exciting reunions with famous names such as Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes and Derek Walcott. New poets for me like Danez Smith and Yusef Komunyakaa I want to read more of. The collection contains everything from Phillis Wheatley, who was the first African American poet to be published, to today's slam poetry.
The poems are about slavery and hunger, but also about love, music and food. There are celebrations and mourning. Also protestsongs. "For African Americans, the very act of composing poetry proves a form of protest," writes Kevin Young in the introduction. It makes many of the poems more intense. Engaging.
For me, it is the musicality that characterizes the poems. A rhythm of its own. Blues. Jazz. Beat the poets' talking poem. It's exciting. The poems dance more than I am used to.

This is a collection with great variety. A collection that opens up the world. Make it bigger, more inclusive and interesting. A collection that is nice to read with someone. Read it out loud. Talk about the poems afterwards. A gathering that invites conversation and discussion.
Reading this collection was an exciting journey. I have learned a lot. Understood. Felt. And I've been dancing.

African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song is a masterful monument. Recommended.

 I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
(My native language is not english)
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This is an excellent introduction to African American poetry, full of standards and new voices, and some lovely surprises. I'm a bit unhappy with the inclusion of Alice Walker, known for her antisemitism, but I understand why her work is included. However, the formatting of the book (at least for Kindle) is a problem. Lines are pushed together or broken unevenly (and not in the ways they're broken in printed versions of the same poems) and the notes are all endnotes, not footnotes or introductory notes, meaning that readers have to flip back and forth hundreds of pages to see the notes for each poem.
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Despite having struggled to read some parts of this book, considering older texts have considerable differences in regards of language, I loved reading it, even considering these parts--as an aspiring linguist, I like the challenge. I've been quite interested in reading nonwhite literary works as well as historical narratives, as most of the ones seen in the school's history books are introduced in a very eurocentric point of view, and this book was an insightful start.
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This is a great collection of poetry about African Americans lives. Lovers of poetry will enjoy this a lot.
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This is a wonderful and important collection -- something anyone who loves poetry should have in their personal library to study and to cherish. It is a comprehensive (but fun and highly readable!) survey of 250 years of African American poetry, starting with pioneers like Phillis Wheatley and Jupiter Hammon, early 20th century masters like Paul Laurence Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson, before moving on to Harlem Renaissance mainstays like Claude McKay and Langston Hughes, and more modern masters like Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Richard Wright, Nikki Giovanni, Derek Walcott, and literally dozens more, including contributions from poets from the last decade.  Congratulations to Library of America for another fantastic collection.  And thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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This book is nearly impossible to rate. Any collection of poetry has poems you enjoy and poems you dislike. But for the historical context given, along with the sheer number of writers I now need to look into, it cannot get anything but 5 stars. These poems are important and painful and poignant.
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I studied poetry in college, but can probably name the African American poets we discussed in class on one hand. I look back at all the anthologies on my shelf and see pages and pages, centuries of writing by white authors. I can't express how thrilled I am to have access to an anthology that showcases centuries of African American poetry and allows us to view American history through the words of so many Black authors, many whom I'd never heard of or had the pleasure of reading. What a joy to read and savor this: It's a big volume, but well worth reading.
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I initially had this as a courtesy copy via NetGalley to provide an honest review. This by far has become my favorite anthology of poetry and after I got to the Harlem Renaissance, I knew this had to be a permanent collection to my library. So, then I purchased a physical copy to my bookshelf, it's just that important to have. For starters, the book is divided into eight sections and while I thought I was familiar with most of the notable poets, I learned that there are SO MANY others that I have never read. And that is related to my one complaint, I wish that the biographical notes had been included with the introduction of each poet or section, instead of at the end. I found that I needed to put the book down to Google or quickly flip to the back of the book to learn a bit more. 


Very thoughtfully compiled, some poems were familiar and definitely needed to be included. Others were new to me but will forever be remembered. This is definitely my "traveling book" that will stay in my to go bag/work bag to pull out to read over and over.
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I loved reading all the poetry and the history behind the works. I don't remember reading any of these in high school or college; so I am glad that this came across my search today. I would highly recommend teachers utilize some of these works in their classrooms today.
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I've read several of Young's curated works, and they are all well done. This is an excellent collection -- a good one to have on hand.
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This is a wonderful book! The large amount of content and the genre will make it the type of book that I will dip in and out of from time to time. It's not a book that can be rushed!
Thank you so much for letting me have this ARC. I plan on buying my own copy so that can savor the content.
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A comprehensive collection of African American poetry perfect for the classroom. This collection is extensive and covers a huge variety of poetry and poets from 1770-2020. Sections break down poetry by specific time periods throughout American History. A wonderful reference for the classroom or for a personal library! 

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing this ARC.
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Thank you NetGalley for this ebook!

This is an fantastic collection of important poetry tracing the lives of African Americans over the last 250 years. It was well curated and truly a joy to read! I don't know why NetGalley is still giving out free ebooks for this, given that the book this is worth its weight in gold.

My grandmother hates almost everything I read and is especially picky about the poetry collections presented to her, but I would 100% give this book to her and be confident in her liking it. THAT IS THE HIGHEST PRAISE I CAN GIVE!
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I received an ebook copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book of poetry exceeded my expectations. First of all, I really appreciated the way the book was organized. If you're only interested in one historical period it's easy just to concentrate there. But I also felt like there was a high attention to detail in making sure as many poets as possible made it into this anthology without leaving influential and important poets behind. I can only recommend it onward.
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A wonderful compilation of poetry from African American's through history.  It is lovely that you can see the  progression of themes through the sections of the book as you move closer to present day.  While I was more personally interested in reading authors and their poems from the late twenty and twenty-first century (1990-2020), as an English teacher I appreciated the sections that focused on the Harlem Renaissance era  and the Civil Rights era.  While this book has well over 900 pages, one wouldn't expect to sit down and read it cover to cover.  Like with any anthology you can peruse it at your leisure and find the authors you love, while finding new ones to treasure.  As a teacher, I'd love for this to be on my bookshelf to show my Black and Brown students that there have been, and continue to be countless poets that look like them.  This is a great collection to add to your shelf.
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This is an outstanding collection of important poetry tracing the lives of African Americans over the last 250 years. Truly a treasure that belongs on every family's bookshelf and in every school and public library.
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This was an amazing and in-depth compilation of so much African American poetry and prose. The historical context behind the different poems and poets in addition to the detailed description of the impact on black and American society was well written. I really enjoyed reading this and would recommend it to anyone, especially anyone who loves the variety in African American artists.
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Amazing compilation of african american poetry and lives in this read. Recommend to the lovers of poetry.
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I would like to thank the publisher of African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Son for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy through NetGalley.

I don't know much about African American Poetry with the exception of Maya Angelou and Audre Lorde so this anthology is an excellent introduction for readers like me, who are interested in this topic and would like to trace the roots of African American Poetry. I appreciated a lot the introduction in the book, which explained the sections in the book, guiding the reader, as the poetry evolved through the ages. 
It's a book I will often revisit to discover more African American Poets.
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This is a truly masterful collection of Black poetry, and I'm going to buy a physical copy right now to put on my shelf. A must-have for any poet.
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