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Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetryby Charles Henry Rowell
Synopses & Reviews
This is not just another poetry anthology. It is a gathering of poems that demonstrate what happens when writers in a marginalized community collectively turn from dedicating their writing to political, social, and economic struggles, and instead devote themselves to the art of their poems and to the ideas they embody. These poets bear witness to the interior landscapes of their own individual selves or examine the private or personal worlds of invented personae and, therefore, of human beings living in our modern and postmodern worlds. The anthology focuses on post-1960s poetry and includes such poets as Rita Dove, Ai, Nathaniel Mackey, Natasha Trethewey, Kevin Young, Terrence Hayes, Elizabeth Alexander, Major Jackson, Carl Phillips, Harryette Mullen, and Yusef Komunyakaa--artists who, using a wide range of styles and forms, are cultivating a poetry of personal voice and interiority that speaks against the backdrop of community and anscestry.
"This important if sprawling collection might be the first to give such a full and various account of its subject: African-American poets since the 1960s, and especially since the 1980s, in much of their ambitiously pluralist, confident, and energetic variety. Its 86 poets begin a bit farther back, with Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, the polemical Black Arts Movement (Mari Evans: 'I/ am a black woman/ tall as a cypress/ strong') and the sometimes more fruitful poets who stood outside or beside it during the 1970s. Most of these pages, however, yield poets still at work now, some already famous (Rita Dove, Elizabeth Alexander, U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey, 2012 Pulitzer winner Tracy K. Smith), many still on the rise. Poems in historical personae and short meditations on black identity predominate: Rowell, the founding editor of the influential journal Callalloo, favors a line of careful, speech-based realism, though spoken-word attitudes (Patricia Smith) and harsher experiment (Dawn Lundy Martin) certainly do get in the door. Each poet's poems are preceded by his or her own short prose excerpt or statement. Rowell's fulsome introduction does his poets no favors, and some selections (e.g. Terrance Hayes) favor early work unduly. Yet this big book will also let almost any reader find African-American writers who should be better known.'" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
More than seventy poets are represented in this innovative new anthology of African American poetry since the 1960s.
About the Author
Charles Henry Rowell is the founder and editor of the premier literary and cultural journal of the African diaspora, Callaloo. He is a professor of English at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, where he lives.
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