ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

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The first literary black poets tried to write as whites for a white audience. Phillis Wheatley imitated

Pope and Dryden. their models were likely to be genteel or to antedate the current poetic practices.

In the Harlem Renaissance, Countee Cullen wrote under the influence of Keats and Housman,

and Claude McKay wrote sonnets in the tradition of Wordsworth and Milton.

 

 

Books by and about Dudley Randall

Julius E. Thompson. Dudley Randall, Broadside Press, and the Black Arts Movement in Detroit, 1960-1995. Jefferson: McFarland, 1999. 344 pp

The Black Poets. Edited by Dudley Randall. A Bantam Book 1971.

Black Poetry: A Supplement to Anthologies Which Exclude Black Poets / Poem Counterpoem  / Cities Burning  /  Love You  

More to Remember: Poems of Four Decades / After the Killing  / Broadside Memories: Poets I Have Known

A Litany of Friends: New and Selected Poems  / For Malcolm: Poems on the Life and the Death of Malcolm

Golden Song: The Fiftieth Anniversary Anthology of the Poetry Society of Michigan

*   *   *   *   *

Dudley Randall

Born 14 January 1914 in Washington, District of Columbia, United States
Died  5 August  2000 in Southfield, Michigan

Publisher, Editor, Detroit's First Poet Laureate

A Librarian as Guiding Light of Black Arts Movement

Bio-sketch by Lorenzo Thomas, et al

 

Legacy: My South

What desperate nightmare rapts me to this land

Lit by a bloody moon, red on the hills,

Red in the valleys? Why am I compelled

To tread again where buried feet have trod,

To shed my tears where blood and tears have flowed?

Compulsion of the blood and of the moon

Transports me. I was molded from this clay

My blood must ransom all the blood shed here,

My tears redeem the tears. Cripples and monsters

Are here. My flesh must make them whole and hale.

I am the sacrifice.

See where the hat

Attempt again and again to cross a line

Their minds have drawn, but fear snatches them back

Though health and joy wait on the other side.

And there another locks himself in a room

And throws away the key. A ragged scarecrow

Cackles an antique lay, and cries himself

Lord of the world. A naked plowman falls

Famished upon the plow, and overhead

A lean bird circles.

*   *   *   *   *

The Southern Road

There the black river, boundary to hell.

And here the iron bridge, the ancient car,

And grim conductor, who with surly yell

Forbids white soldiers where the black ones are.

And I re-live the enforced avatar

Of desperate journey to a dark abode

Made by my sires before another war;

And I set forth upon the southern road.

 

To a land where shadowed songs like followers swell

And where the earth is scarlet as a scar

Friezed by the bleeding lash that fell (O fell)

Upon my fathers’ flesh. O far, far, far

And deep my blood has drenched it. None can bar

My birthright to the loveliness bestowed

Upon this country haughty as a star.

And I set forth upon the southern road.

 

This darkness and these mountains loom a spell

Of peak-roofed town where yearning steeples soar

And the holy holy chanting of a bell

Shakes human incense on the throbbing air

Where bonfires blaze and quivering bodies char.

Whose is the hair that crisped, and fiercely glowed?

I know it; and my entrails melt like tar

And I set forth upon the southern road.

 

O fertile hillsides where my fathers are,

From which my griefs like trouble streams have flowed,

I have to love you, though they sweep me far.

And I set forth upon the southern road.

*   *   *   *  

Black Magic

Black girl black girl

lips as curved as cherries

full as grape bunches

sweet as blackberries

 

Black girl black girl

when you walk you are

magic as a rising bird

or a falling star

 

Black girl black girl

what’s your spell to make

the heart in my breast

jump           stop         shake

*   *   *   *   *

The Poetry of Black America. Copyright © 1973 by Arnold Adoff. Introduction copyright © 1973 by Gwendolyn Brooks Blakely • Harper & Row • New York, N.Y. 10022

*   *   *   *   *

Booker T. and W. E. B.

"It seems to me," said Booker T.,
"It shows a mighty lot of cheek
To study chemistry and Greek
When Mister Charlie needs a hand
To hoe the cotton on his land,
And when Miss Ann looks for a cook,
Why stick your nose inside a book?"
"I don't agree," said W.E.B.,
"If I should have the drive to seek
Knowledge of chemistry or Greek,
I'll do it. Charles and Miss can look
Another place for hand or cook.
Some men rejoice in skill of hand,
And some in cultivating land,
But there are others who maintain
The right to cultivate the brain."
"It seems to me," said Booker T.,
"That all you folks have missed the boat
Who shout about the right to vote,
And spend vain days and sleepless nights
In uproar over civil rights.
Just keep your mouths shut, do not grouse,
But work, and save, and buy a house."
"I don't agree," said W.E.B.,
"For what can property avail
If dignity and justice fail.
Unless you help to make the laws,
They'll steal your house with
trumped-up clause.
A rope's as tight, a fire as hot,
No matter how much cash you've got.
Speak soft, and try your little plan,
But as for me, I'll be a man."
"It seems to me," said Booker T.—  
"I don't agree,"
Said W.E.B.

Source: Modern American Poetry

*   *   *   *   *

Bio- Sketches of Dudley Randall (1914-2000)

Randall, a librarian by training and trade . . . figures prominently prominently in the development of an audience for the new black poetry. Randall also served in World War II and writes poems about the war, love, violence, art, and the black presence. His well known "Booker T. and W.E.B.," digesting the Washington-Du Bois controversy, was seen by Du Bois, and this pleased Randall. The poem first appeared in Midwest Journal, 1952. Randall has also written about and translated Russian poetry.

With Margaret Danner he coauthored Poem Counterpoem (1966), and his Cities Burning appeared in 1968. More to Remember (1971) pulls together Randall's poems from "four decades." His work has been published in Umbra, Beloit Poetry Journal, and other places. He initiated the Broadside (posters) in 1965 with his own "Ballad of Birmingham." The series grew quickly, laying the foundation for Broadside Press, the most significant black poetry press in America.

Randall's work of this period has the stamp of formality. He writes in ballad and free-verse forms, but he had a tightness that would be relaxed in the late sixties. "Legacy" chronicles the hurt, physical and mental, of a land "Lit by a bloody moon." But the one who is "moulded from this clay" vows

      My tears redeem my tears.

"Perspectives" recasts the time-immemorial theme of we only pass this way once. There is no need to complain about discomfort, the poems says, because even the mountains--in their hugeness--are dissolved "away" by the seas. Randall's Pacific Epitaphs are recollections of the war. The short pieces are epigrammatic and haiku-like. Here is a poignant one ("Iwo Jima"):

     Like oil of Texas

     My blood gushed here.

Prominent in a group of Detroit poets (Margaret Danner, Oliver La Grone, Naomi Long Madgett, James Thompson, and others), Randall often enmeshes himself in a sense of personal injury over his people's history. This tendency, and a debt to the black poetic tradition (especially Sterling Brown), can be seen in "The Southern Road," in which the "black river" serves as a "boundary to hell." The country is "haughty as a star,"

     And I set forth upon the southern road.  [329-330]

 

. . . . The poetry hub for the late sixties and seventies, of course, is Randall's Broadside Press. Randall has changed as a poet and person, he says, in ways that perhaps parallel the changes in Gwendolyn Brooks. A "father" figure among some new black poets, he publishes dozens of them (over one hundred, at this writing), releases new books of his own poetry, serves as distributor of Breman's Heritage Series and travels widely as lecturer, teacher, librarian, and translator of Russian poetry.

A formalist by training and temperament, Randall described his new poetic stance in a statement in modern and Contemporary Afro-American Poetry (Bell, 1972):

 

My poetics is to try to write poetry as well as I can. i think i have said elsewhere that the function of the poet is to write poetry. My earlier poetry was more formal. Now I am trying to write a looser, more irregular, more colloquial and more idiomatic verse. I abhor logorrhea and try to make my poems as concentrated as possible.

Indeed Randall has tried to do just that--moving from a traditional to a loose conversational verse. This he attempts in such volumes as Love You (1970) and After the Killing (1973). When Randall is describing a girl in an African village or the "Miracle of Love," he is genuine and strong. But such poems as "Green Apples" and "Words Words Words" pit him against his mettle. These and other pieces are merely vertical prose, appearing as sketches and letters. But he is primarily a librarian, publisher, and editor whose service to black poets has been and remains invaluable. This is seen not only in his production of their work, but in the many anthologies he has edited. With Chicagoan Margaret Burroughs, he coedited Malcolm: Poems on the Life and Death of Malcolm X (1967), the latter unbalanced and apparently quickly put together, since it has practically no introduction and contains no bio-bibliographical material on the poets. [394-395]

 

Source: Eugene Redmond. Drumvoices: The Mission of Afro-American Poetry: A Critical History. Doubleday, 1976.

*   *   *   *   *

Education: Wayne University (now Wayne State University), B.A., 1949; University of Michigan, M.A.L.S., 1951; graduate study, University of Ghana, 1970. . . .

Memberships: International Afro-American Museum, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, American Library Association, Michigan Library Association, Michigan Poetry Society, Detroit Society for the Advancement of Culture and Education

Career

Ford Motor Co., River Rouge, MI, foundry worker, 1932-37; U.S. Post Office, Detroit, MI, carrier and clerk, 1938-51; Lincoln University, Jefferson City, MO, librarian, 1951-54; Morgan State College, Baltimore, MD, associate librarian, 1954-56; Wayne County Federated Library System, Wayne, MI, 1956-69, began as assistant branch librarian, became branch librarian, 1956-63, head, reference-interloan department, 1963-69; University of Detroit, Detroit, reference librarian and poet-in-residence, 1969-75. Visiting lecturer, University of Michigan, 1969. Founder and general editor, Broadside Press, Detroit, 1965-77, consultant, 1977--. Founder, Broadside Poets Theater and Broadside Poetry Workshop, 1980. Member, Advisory Panel on Literature, Michigan Council for the Arts, and New Detroit, Inc., both 1970--. Has participated in several poetry seminars and festivals, including the East-West Culture Learning Institute's Seminar on socio-literature at the University of Hawaii.

Source: Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2006. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2006. Galenet

*   *   *   *   *

An accomplished poet himself and chair of the Black Studies program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Thompson possesses the skills and sensibility required for this multifaceted project. His narrative employs the neutral tone of a standard reference work, yet he chooses biographical details that deftly and almost imperceptibly guide the reader's attention.

Dudley Randall was born in 1914 to a middle-class family, but--as the family moved from Washington, D.C., to East St. Louis and, finally, to Detroit--his father's employment status steadily declined. A full-scale biography might explore this development at length, speculating on its effect on the young Randall. Thompson's format, however, only allows him to supply enough data so that the perceptive reader will be aware of this aspect of Randall's formative years. As a poet, Dudley Randall got off to a slow start. Encouraged by his parents, he developed a serious interest in poetry and began to write while still in high school, but his only literary contact was a casual friendship with Robert Hayden in the 1930s. Secure in a clerk's job at the Post Office, Randall did not participate in the Depression-era Federal Writers Project that set Hayden and many others on the road to later success.

After Army service in the South Pacific in World War II, Randall used his GI Bill benefits to attend Wayne State University. When he graduated in 1948 he was more confident about his poetry, but, unfortunately, it was at just that moment that the Urban League's Opportunity magazine and the NAACP's The Crisis—the nation's major outlets for black poets since the 1920s--were no longer viable publishing venues. Randall did manage to publish a few poems in Midwest Journal, Russell Atkins's FreeLance, and other small magazines as he continued to juggle the duties of a full-time job and graduate school, earning a degree in library science at the University of Michigan. As a professional librarian with literary interests, he joined the ranks of figures such as Arna Bontemps, Dorothy Porter, Ernest Kaiser, Casper Leroy Jordan, and Ann Allen Shockley.

By 1960 Randall was enjoying a comfortable professional career, but it was the early stirrings of the Black Arts Movement that provided the catalyst for his most productive period as a writer, as well as his establishment of Broadside Press. During the decade, Randall developed mutually energizing associations with Detroit writers such as Margaret Danner, Woodie King, Ron Milner, Oliver La Grone, and James W. Thompson. For Randall and his peers, the establishment of independent African American media began to seem an indispensable element of Civil Rights goals such as "self-determination" or community political empowerment. As a result, Thompson writes, Randall assumed an effective role as "an active participant both in the Black Arts Movement and in the ongoing struggles of the Civil Rights Movement. Randall and the writers and artists who published under the Broadside Press label became major shapers of the cultural and intellectual developments fostered by the Black Arts Movement" (29). The project definitely reflected the movement's emphasis on "grass roots" political engagement.

Randall's first publications in 1965 were literally broadsides—single poems printed on large sheets of paper that sold for fifty cents. The next year the press produced a small book, Poem Counterpoem, a collaboration by Randall and Margaret Danner that resembled a conversation in verse. For Malcolm X, an anthology edited by Randall and Margaret Burroughs, appeared in 1967 and immediately sold more than 8,000 copies.

Unlike most small literary presses, Broadside seemed to have an audience avidly—almost impatiently—awaiting its publications. Certainly, Randall's editorial acumen was impressive. The poets published by Broadside would eventually include major voices of the 1940s such as Melvin B. Tolson, Margaret Walker, and Gwendolyn Brooks as well as newcomers Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde, Haki R. Madhubuti (Don L. Lee), Mae Jackson, James A. Emanuel, Etheridge Knight, Sonia Sanchez, and Keorapetse Kgositsile. Randall's press also introduced important yet still underrated poets such as Sterling D. Plumpp, Melba Joyce Boyd, and the late Lance Jeffers.

 

Source: Lorenzo Thomas, Book Review, African American Review,  Fall, 2000.

 

*   *   *   *   *

In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, when Detroit was the "Arsenal of Democracy" and the "Automobile Capital of the World," industrial wealth embellished the city's industrial identity. In tandem with the city's educational institutions, poets emerged from a myriad of ethnicities.

Literary relationships of historic note, such as the friendship between Dudley Randall (1914-2000) and Robert Hayden (1913-1980), demonstrated how the automobile industry and the labor struggle stimulated artistic expression and aesthetic exchange in the working-class and the African American community.

During the Great Depression in 1937, Randall and Hayden met and provided aesthetic sustenance for each other and their artistic pursuits. By day, Randall labored in the Ford foundry, while Hayden worked for the WPA. By night, Randall and Hayden met at the YMCA to discuss literary techniques and their own writings. In fact, Randall typed Hayden's first manuscript, Heart-Shape in the Dust, for submission to a poetry contest. Although it did not win the prize, Falcon Press, founded by a group of union organizers, published the manuscript. Randall and Hayden struggled to be published in national magazines because of the limited outlets and opportunities for black poets. . . .

Dudley Randall was a member of Boone House when he composed "Ballad of Birmingham," following the 1963 Ku Klux Klan bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, for Correspondence Magazine in Detroit. In 1965 folksinger Jerry Moore asked for permission to record the poem as a song. In order to protect his rights as the author, Randall printed the poem as a broadside, a single sheet of paper, and founded the Broadside Press. Shortly thereafter, he began the Broadside Series and published poems by such prominent black poets as Robert Hayden, Margaret Walker, Naomi Long Madgett, Gwendolyn Books, LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Melvin Tolson, Jean Toomer, and Langston Hughes. He called the first set of poems "Poems of the Negro Revolt." As the press grew, it began to publish books by these same broadside authors, and it also introduced new black voices of the 1960s, including Don L. Lee (Haki Madhubuti), Etheridge Knight, James Emanuel, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, and Audre Lorde. According to poet and scholar Eugene Redmond, Broadside Press became "the hub of black poetry publishing."

Under Randall's auspices, Broadside also published emerging Detroit-based poets: Jill Witherspoon Boyer, who was also the editor of the Broadside Annual; Melba Joyce Boyd, who was Randall's assistant editor (1972-77); Aneb Kgositsile, who served as an editor for the press (1977-80); John Sinclair; and Michelle Gibbs. Broadside Press was the most successful small poetry press at the time. More than five hundred thousand books were distributed between 1965-77. It served as inspiration for other aspiring, small presses.

Randall's colleague Naomi Long Madgett founded Lotus Press in 1972. Its first publication was Madgett's Pink Ladies in the Afternoon. Like Randall, Madgett realized that only through independent presses could black poets ensure that their works would be made public. She extended her resources and skills to other poets and published the works of noted Detroit poets Toi Derricotte, Paulette Childress, and Bill Harris. Since 1972 the press has grown significantly, claiming 76 titles.

 

Source: Melba Joyce Boyd and M. L. Liebler, eds. Abandon Automobile: Detroit City Poetry 2001. (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001), pages 23-28. Internet source: http://www.lib.wayne.edu

*   *   *   *   *

Book Review

Julius E. Thompson's carefully crafted Dudley Randall, Broadside Press, and the Black Arts Movement in Detroit, 1960-1 995, is a valuable and somewhat unusual book that delivers everything the title promises, though not necessarily in the proportions a reader might expect. Part biography, part literary history, the book is primarily a flawlessly detailed study of an important publishing enterprise. McFarland is a publishing house that specializes in reference works and books intended for the use of librarians, and that fact surely has influenced Thompson's approach.

 

Source: Lorenzo Thomas, Book Review, African American Review,  Fall, 2000.

*   *   *   *   *

The Black Poets edited by Dudley Randall

The claim of The Black Poets [1971] to being a partially definitive anthology is that it  presents the full range of Black-American poetry,  from the slave songs to the present day. It is important that folk poetry be included because it is  the root and inspiration of later, literary  poetry. Folk and ballad poetry influence is seen in Haydn's  "The Ballad of Nat Turner," Melvin B. Tolson's "The Birth of John Henry," and in Etheridge Knight's version of the legend of Shine, the stoker on the Titanic. In Black Fire, Larry Neal gives as different version of the legend.

It is important that the reader, as well as young black poets, be familiar with these roots of black poetry, so that he  can recognize them as they recur in Tolson, Sterling A. Brown, Margaret Walker, or in some new young poet of today, and so that the poets can utilize them in their own poetry

Not only does this book present the full range of Black poetry, but it presents most poets in depths, and in some cases presents aspects of a poet  neglected or overlooked before. Claude McKay is well-known for his poetry of defiance and rebellion, but some of his later introspective, self-questioning poems, after he was converted from atheism to Catholicism, are included here. Haydn is often characterized (wrongly) as an art for art's sake poet, but some of his poems in this book are the most powerful presentations of the black experience. Frank Horne is best known for his "Letters Found Near a Suicide." Students in my class were so fond of them that I asked them whether they were death-wish oriented. But his later poetry, when he was struggling for strength after paralysis, is include here. Gwendolyn Brooks  is represented not only by poems on racial and  domestic themes, but is revealed as a writer of  superb love lyrics.

In addition new poets, or poets seldom anthologized before, are included, such as Everett Hoagland, James Randall, Jr., Stephany, Carolyn M. Rodgers, Doughtry Long, and Johari Amini.

The first literary black poets tried to write as whites for a white audience. Phillis Wheatley imitated Pope and Dryden. their models were likely to be genteel or to antedate the current poetic practices. In the Harlem Renaissance, Countee Cullen wrote under the influence of Keats and Housman, and Claude McKay wrote sonnets in the tradition of Wordsworth and Milton. It took the impingement of racism on Cullen's life, and McKay's belligerent personality, to give their poetry distinction. Only Langston Hughes and Jean Toomer, one by his use of colloquial black speech and blues form, and the other by his employment of new images and symbolism, were abreast of the poetic practices of the day.

In the post Renaissance generation, Sterling A Brown and Margaret Walker, continued Hughes's use of folk materials, and Robert Haydn, Gwendolyn Brooks, Melvin B. Tolson, and Margaret Danner brought black poetry abreast of its time by absorbing and mastering the techniques of T.S. Eliot, Hart Crane, Ezra Pound.

The poets of the sixties and seventies have gone further than the poets of the post-Renaissance. the best of them have absorbed the techniques of the masters, have rejected them, and have gone in new directions. perhaps this rejection had its roots in the movement of the fifties and sixties. when the poets saw the contorted faces of the mobs, saw officers of the law commit murder, and "respectable" people scheme to break the law (there was no cry for law and order then), perhaps they asked themselves, Why should we seek to be integrated with such a society? perhaps they resolved to work toward a more civilized, a more humane society.

This alienation from white society initiated a turning away from its values and its poetry. poets turned to poetry of the folk, of the streets, to jazz musicians, to the language of black people for their models. their first impulse was no longer to send a poem to Poetry Magazine or Harper's, but to think of Black World, Journal of Black Poetry, Black Dialogue, Soulbook, Freedomways, or Liberator. This emancipation from white literary models and critics freed them to create a new black poetry of their own. such freedom was necessary if they were to create a truly original poetry. This is not to say that they remain ignorant of the currents of contemporary poetry, but that their attitude toward it was different. What they could use, they took, but they wrote as black men, not as black writers trying to be white. they tried to change language, to turn it around, to give new meanings and connotations to words. One example of this is the word black, which no longer connotes evil or dirt, but pride and beauty.

Examples of their success in "blackening the language" are phrases that have passed into common speech and that one repeats without knowing the originator, such as Imamu Baraka's (LeRoi Jones's) "upa aginst the wall" and "black art," and Don lee's "think black," black pride," "the unpeople," "therealpeople," "the world runners,' "Iunder/overstand," "blackwriting," "integration of negroes with black people,' and "talking black and sleeping white."

This turning away from White models and returning to their roots has freed Black poets to  create a new poetry. This book records their  progress. they no longer imitate white models, strain toward white magazines, defer to white critics, or court white readers. they are in the process of creating a new literature. Whatever the outcome, they are taking care of business. —from the Introduction  of  The Black Poets [1971] dited by Dudley  Randall

*   *   *   *   *

The Black Poets 

edited by Dudley Randall

Contents

 

Introduction

xxiii

   

FOLK POETRY

1

Walk Together Children

1

   
Folk Seculars

3

                  Songs: We Raise de Wheat

3

He Paid Me Seven (Parody)

5

Run, Nigger, Run!

5

Promises of Freedom

5

Jack and Dinah Want Freedom

5

Wild Negro Bill

7

Negro Soldier's Civil War Chant

7

Song to the Runaway Slave

8

Down in the Lonesome Garden

8

This Sun is Hot

9

That Hypocrite

9

Old Man Know-All

9

Raise a "Rucus" To-Night

10

I'll Wear Me a Cotton Dress

11

John Henry

12

She Hugged Me and Kissed Me

16

Slave Marriage Ceremony Supplement

16

Blessing Without Company

17

The Old Section Boss

17

The Turtle's Song

18

Chuck Will's Widow Song

19

   

Spirituals

21

                     No More Auction Block

21

   
I Know the Moonlight

23

Go Down, Moses

23

Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho

24

Dere's No Hidin' Place Down Dere

25

I Got a Home in Dat Rock

25

Deep River

26

Steal Away to Jesus

27

Git on Board, Little Children

27

Give Me Jesus

28

What Yo' Gwine to do when Yo' Lamp Burn Down?

29

Crucifixion

29

Were You There when They Crucified My Lord?

30

I Thank God I'm Free at Las'

31

De Ole Sheep Dey Know De Road

32

   

LITERARY POETRY

33

Black Poet, White Critic

33

By Dudley Randall

 
   
The Forerunners

35

         from America, by James M. Whitfield

35

   

LUCY TERRY

37

Bar's Fight, August 28, 1746

37

   

PHILLIS WHEATLEY

38

from To The Right Honorable William, Earl of Darmouth

38

   

FRANCES E.W. HARPER

39

The Slave Auction

39

Bury Me In a Free Land

40

   

JAMES WELDON JOHNSON

41

Listen, Lord--A Prayer

41

O Black and Unknown Bards

42

   

PAUL LAWRENCE DUNBAR

44

An Ante-Bellum Sermon

44

Misapprehension

46

Harriet Beecher Stowe

47

Soliloquy of a Turkey

47

When Dey 'Listed Colored Soldiers

48

To a Captions Critic

50

In the Morning

51

The Poet

52

A Spiritual

53

The Unsung Heroes

54

Philosophy

55

Compensation

56

   
Harlem Renaissance

57

       Esthete in Harlem by Langston Hughes  
   

CLAUDE MCKAY

59

The Harlem Dancer

59

Spring in New Hampshire

59

The Tired Worker

60

To O.E.A.

60

The White City

61

Enslaved

62

Tiger

62

If We Must Die

63

The Negro's Tragedy

63

Truth

64

The Pagan Isms

64

I Know My Soul

65

   

JEAN TOOMER

66

Karintha

66

Reapers

68

Georgia Dusk

69

Evening Song

70

   

FRANK HORNE

71

Letters Found Near a Suicide

 

     To Mother

71

     To 'Chick'

71

     To You

72

     To James

73

Walk

75

'Mammal'

76

Patience

77

   

LANGSTON HUGHES

78

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

78

Dinner Guest: Me

78

Un-American Investigators

79

Third Degree

80

Who But the Lord?

81

Ku Klux

81

Peace

82

Still Here

83

Cultural Exchange

83

Junior Addict

85

Children's Rhymes

86

Words Like Freedom

87

Justice

87

American Heartbreak

87

Frederick Douglass: 1817-1895

87

Where? When? Which?

88

Angola Question Mark

89

Question and Answer

89

The Backlash Blues

90

Warning

91

   

ARNA BONTEMPS

92

God Give to Men

92

Reconnaissance

92

Nocturne of the Wharves

93

A Black Man Talks of Reaping

94

   

COUNTEE CULLEN

95

Heritage

95

Incident

98

Simon the Cyrenian Speaks

99

From the Dark Tower

100

Yet Do I Marvel

100

To Certain Critics

101

   
Post-Renaissance

103

            "Summertime and the Living . . ."  
                     By Robert Haydn

103

   

STERLING BROWN

105

Slim in Hell

105

Old Lem

109

Southern Road

111

Long Gone

112

Strong Men

113

Crispus Attucks McCoy

115

   

MELVIN B. TOLSON

118

A Legend of Versailles

118

The Birth of John Henry

118

Satchmo

119

   

FRANK MARSHALL DAVIS

121

Robert Whitmore

121

Arthur Ridgewood, M.D.

121

Giles Johnson, Ph.D.

122

   

ROBERT HAYDN

123

Middle Passage

123

Runagate Runagate

128

A Ballad of Remembrance

131

A Ballad of Nat Turner

133

Full Moon

135

The Diver

136

The Wheel

137

In the Mourning Time

138

   

DUDLEY RANDALL

139

Analysands

139

Primitives

139

Hail, Dionysos

140

The Melting Pot

141

A Different Image

142

Roses and Revolutions

142

Ballad of Birmingham

143

The Idiot

144

George

145

Souvenirs

146

The Profile on the Pillow

147

Abu

147

Ancestors

148

 

 

MARGARET DANNER

149

Garnishing the Aviary

149

The Convert

149

This Is an African Worm

151

The Painted Lady

152

And through the Caribbean Sea

152

Goodbye David Tamunoemi

153

The Slave and the Iron Lace

154

   

MARGARET WALKER

156

Street Demonstration

156

Girl Held without Bail

156

For Malcolm X

157

For Andy Goodman--Michael Swerner--and James Chaney

159

Prophets for a New Day

160

   

RAY DUREM

163

I Know I'm Not Sufficiently Obscure

163

Award

164

   

GWENDOLYN BROOKS

165

The Mother

165

Kitchenette Building

166

What Shall I Give My Children?

166

The Rites for Cousin Vit

167

A Lovely Love

167

When You have Forgotten Sunday: The Love Story

168

The Chicago Picasso

169

The Sermon on the Warpland

170

Young Heroes

171

     I Keorapetse Kgositsile (Willie)

172

     II To Don at Salaam

172

     III Walter Bradford

173

Riot

174

     Riot

175

     The Third Sermon on the Warpland

176

     The Aspect of Love, Alive in the Ice and Fire

179

   
The Nineteen Sixties

181

                SOS by Imamu Amiri Baraka

181

   

MARI EVANS

183

Black jam for dr negro

183

To Mother and Steve

184

Spectrum

186

Where Have You Gone

186

Marrow of My Bone

187

   

JAMES EMANUEL

188

Nightmare

188

The Negro

189

Negritude

190

The Treehouse

191

For "Mr. Dudley," A Black Spy

192

Panther Man  

 

 

NAOMI MADGETT

194

Quest

194

Star Journey

195

Dream Sequence

195

The Race Question

196

Pavlov

196

Midway

197

Alabama Centennial

197

   

CONRAD KENT RIVERS

199

A Mourning Letter from Paris

199

Four Sheets to the Wind and a One-Way Ticket to France

199

In Defense of Black Poets

200

The Death of a Negro Poet

201

   

ETHERIDGE KNIGHT

203

The Idea of Ancestry

203

For Freckled-Faced Gerald

205

Haiku

206

It was a Funky Deal

207

The Violent Space

208

I Sing of Shine

209

   

IMAMU AMIRI BARAKA

211

An Agony. As now.

211

The Pressures

212

Ka 'Ba

213

Beautiful Black Women . . .

213

Babylon Revisited

214

leroy

215

A Poem Some People Will have to Understand

216

Letter to E. Franklin Frazier

217

Numbers, Letters

218

Young Soul

220

Cold Term

220

In One battle

221

Return of the Native

222

Black Bourgeoise,

223

Black Art

223

Poem for Half White College Students

225

Black People

226

   

A.B. SPELLMAN

228

When Black People Are

228

In Orangeburg My Brothers Did

229

   

JOHARI AMINI

230

Saint Malcolm

230

Utopia

230

   

SONIA SANCHEZ

231

to all brothers

231

poem at thirty

231

nigger

232

black magic

233

summary

234

LISTENEN TO BIG BLACK AT S.F. STATE

235

a poem for my father

236

hospital/poem

236

summer words of a sistuh addict

237

--answer to yo/question of am i not yo/woman even if u went on shit again--

238

poem for etheridge

239

a chant for young/brothas & sistuhs

240

   

JUNE JORDAN

243

Okay "Negroes"

243

Cameo No.11

243

Poem for my Family: Hazel Griffin and Victor Hernandez Cruz

245

Poem from the Empire State

247

My Sadness Sits Around Me

248

Nobody Riding the Roads Today

248

What Happens

249

   

LUCILLE CLIFTON

250

Good times

250

Love Rejected

250

Admonitions

251

If I Stand in My Window

252

   

JAMES W. THOMPSON

253

The Constant Labor

253

The Greek Room

254

The Spawn of Slums

254

The Plight

256

   

JOHN RAVEN

258

An Inconvenience

258

Assailant

258

The Roach

259

   

CAROLYN M RODGERS

260

Now Ain't That Love?

260

Testimony

261

One

261

for h.w. fuller

262

Breakthrough

263

What Color is Lonely

265

Yuh Lookin GOOD

266

   

LARRY NEAL

268

Harlem Gallery: From the Inside

268

James Powell on Imagination

269

Malcolm X--An Autobiography

269

   

JAMES A. RANDALL, JR.

272

Who Shall Die?

272

Untitled

273

Don't Ask Me Who I Am

274

When Something Happens

275

Execution

277

Jew

278

   

WELTON SMITH

280

malcolm

280

The Nigga Section

282

   

ISHMAEL REED

284

badman of the guest professor

284

black power poem

288

Beware : Do Not Read This Poem

288

   

MICHAEL HARPER

290

Elvin's Blues

290

American History

291

A Mother Speaks : Motel Incident, Detroit

291

   

YUSEF IMAM

293

Love Your Enemy

293

   

DON L. LEE

295

BACK AGAIN, HOME (confessions of an ex-executive)

295

RE-ACT FOR ACTION

296

THE PRIMITIVE

287

The Self-Hatred of Don L. Lee

297

communication in whi-te

299

But He Has Cool or : he even stopped for green lights

299

a poem to complement other poems

300

One Sided Shoot-out

301

Big Momma

304

Mixed Sketches

306

We Walk the Way of the New World

307

   

DOUGHTRY LONG

310

Ginger Bread Mama

310

One Time Henry Dreamed, the Number

310

   

EVERETT HOAGLAND

312

love Child--a black aesthetic

312

My Spring Thing

313

The Anti-Semanticist

314

It's a Terrible Thing!

315

   

NIKKI GIOVANNI

318

The True Import of Present Dialogue: Black vs. Negro

318

My Poem

319

Beautiful Black Men

320

For Saundra

321

Knoxville, Tennessee

322

The Funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr.

323

Concerning One Responsible Negro with Too Much Power

323

Poem for Black Boys

325

Kidnap Poem

326

Poem for Aretha

327

   

STEPHANY

330

In the Silence

330

Who Is Not a Stranger Still

331

My Love When This Is Past

332

Let Me Be Held When the Longing Comes

332

That We Head  Towards

333

   
Publishers of Black Poetry

335

Periodicals Publishing Black Poetry

339

phonograph Records

343

Tapes

347

Video Clips

351

Films

353

Source: The Black Poets. Edited by Dudley Randall. A Bantam Book 1971. / posted 22 January 2007

 

Melba Joyce Boyd

Wrestling with the Muse

Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press (2003)

In 1963, the African American poet Dudley Randall (1914–2000) wrote "The Ballad of Birmingham" in response to the bombing of a church in Alabama that killed four young black girls, and "Dressed All in Pink," about the assassination of President Kennedy. When both were set to music by folk singer Jerry Moore in 1965, Randall published them as broadsides. Thus was born the Broadside Press, whose popular chapbooks opened the canon of American literature to the works of African American writers.

Dudley Randall, one of the great success stories of American small-press history, was also poet laureate of Detroit, a civil-rights activist, and a force in the Black Arts Movement. Melba Joyce Boyd was an editor at Broadside, was Randall’s friend and colleague for twenty-eight years, and became his authorized biographer. Her book is an account of the interconnections between urban and labor politics in Detroit and the broader struggles of black America before and during the Civil Rights era.

But also, through Randall’s poetry and sixteen years of interviews, the narrative is a multipart dialogue between poets, Randall, the author, and the history of American letters itself, and it affords unique insights into the life and work of this crucial figure.

Melba Joyce Boyd is professor of Africana studies at Wayne State University and adjunct professor at the Center for Afro-American and African Studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of six books of poetry, including The Province of Literary Cats, co-editor of Abandoned Automobile: Detroit City Poetry 2001, author of Discarded Legacy: Politics and Poetics in the Life of Frances E. W. Harper, 1825–1911, and the producer and director of the documentary film, The Black Unicorn: Dudley Randall and Broadside Press.

*   *   *   *   *

Books by Dudley Randall

Poem Counterpoem, by Randall and Margaret Danner (Detroit: Broadside Press, 1966).

Cities Burning (Detroit: Broadside Press, 1968).

Love You   (London: Paul Breman, 1970).

More to Remember: Poems of Four Decades (Chicago: Third World Press, 1971).

After the Killing (Chicago: Third World Press, 1973),

Broadside Memories: Poets I Have Known (Detroit: Broadside Press, 1975).

A Litany of Friends: New and Selected Poems (Detroit: Lotus Press, 1981).

Edited Books

For Malcolm: Poems on the Life and the Death of Malcolm X, edited by Dudley Randall and Margaret G. Burroughs (Detroit: Broadside Press, 1967).

Black Poetry: A Supplement to Anthologies Which Exclude Black Poets (Detroit: Broadside Press, 1969).

The Black Poets, edited by Dudley Randall (New York: Bantam, 1971).

Golden Song: The Fiftieth Anniversary Anthology of the Poetry Society of Michigan, edited by Randall and Louis J. Cantoni (Detroit: Harlo, 1985).

*   *   *   *   *

AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

The Black Arts Movement
Literary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s

By James Edward Smethurst 

Emerging from a matrix of Old Left, black nationalist, and bohemian ideologies and institutions, African American artists and intellectuals in the 1960s coalesced to form the Black Arts Movement, the cultural wing of the Black Power Movement. In this comprehensive analysis, James Smethurst examines the formation of the Black Arts Movement and demonstrates how it deeply influenced the production and reception of literature and art in the United States through its negotiations of the ideological climate of the Cold War, decolonization, and the civil rights movement.

Taking a regional approach, Smethurst examines local expressions of the nascent Black Arts Movement, a movement distinctive in its geographical reach and diversity, while always keeping the frame of the larger movement in view. The Black Arts Movement, he argues, fundamentally changed American attitudes about the relationship between popular culture and "high" art and dramatically transformed the landscape of public funding for the arts.Publisher, University of North Carolina Press

*   *   *   *   *

Visions of a Liberated Future

Black Arts Movement Writings

By Larry Neal

"What we have been trying to arrive at is some kind of synthesis of the writer's function as an oppressed individual and a creative artist," states Neal (1937-1981), a writer, editor, educator and activist prominent in the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and '70s. Articulate, highly charged essays about the black experience examine the views of his predecessors--musicians and political theorists as well as writers--continually weighing artistic achievement against political efficacy. While the essays do not exclude any readers, Neal's drama, poetry and fiction are more limited in their form of address, more explicitly directed to the oppressed. The poems are particularly intense in their protest: "How many of them / . . . have been made to /prostitute their blood / to the merchants of war." Rhythmic and adopting the repetitive structure of music, they capture the "blues in our mothers' voices / which warned us / blues people bursting out." Commentaries by Neal's peers, Amiri Baraka, Stanley Crouch, Charles Fuller and Jayne Cortez, introduce the various sections.—Publishers Weekly

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

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Related files: Dudley Randall and Audre Lorde   Other Anthologies: New Negro Poets U.S.A.   Black Fire The Black Poets   Black Nationalism in America     360° A Revolution of Black Poets