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Publisher's Summary

Starting with Lucy Terry of the early 18th century and finishing with poet laureate Rita Dove, this anthology edited by Catherine Clinton captures the talent and passion of black poets. Powerful and diverse, I, Too, Sing America is a forum for voices baring their souls, speaking their minds, tracing their roots, and proclaiming their dreams.

    Each of the 25 poets is introduced with a brief biography and poetry notes to help the listener place his or her work in context. Included in the anthology is:

    • "I, Too, Sing America" by Langston Hughes
    • "Bars Fight" by Lucy Terry
    • "Liberty and Peace" by Phillis Wheatley
    • "On Liberty and Slavery" by George Moses Horton
    • "Yes! Strike Again That Sounding String" by James M. Whitfield
    • "Bury Me in a Free Land" by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
    • "The Song of the Smoke" by W. E. B. Du Bois
    • "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" by James Weldon Johnson
    • "We Wear the Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar
    • "The Black Finger" by Angelina Weld Grimke
    • "Your World" and "Interracial" by Georgia Douglas Johnson
    • "Children of the Sun" by Fenton Johnson
    • "If We Must Die" and "The White House" by Claude McKay
    • "Beehive" by Jean Toomer
    • "Heritage" and "To a Dark Girl" by Gwendolyn Bennett
    • "A Black Man Talks of Reaping" by Arna Bontemps
    • "Harlem," "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," "Merry-Go-Round," and "Cross" by Langston Hughes
    • "Tableau," "Saturday's Child," and "Incident" by Countee Cullen
    • "Sorrow Home" by Margaret Walker
    • "Martin Luther King Jr.," "Malcolm X," and "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks
    • "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou
    • "Rites of Passage" by Audre Lorde
    • "In the Year" by Amiri Baraka
    • "The Funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr." by Nikki Giovanni
    • "Women" by Alice Walker
    • "Primer" by Rita Dove
©2011 Catherine Clinton (P)2011 AudioGO

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Rolling over in their graves--

The entire pantheon of African American poets are rolling over in their graves. Those included in this work who happen to be alive are most likely wishing death. I rarely comment on works of art, especially negative, but these over-the-top, comical, borderline disrespectful spoken renderings of some of the most well-known, well-loved and powerful poetry by African American poets drove me to the keyboard before I have even finished the book. I wanted to do it quickly before some other poor sap fell victim to these performances.

I rarely return books, either, but this one is going back. I would ask that the performers who read these works out loud, or those who directed them, to go back and listen to what they've done, and perhaps familiarize themselves on how to read poetry out loud.

The power in poetry is in the words the authors have painstakingly selected to convey meaning. The power belongs to the meter, the rhyme, the metaphors and other devices that authors have labored over for hours, days, weeks, months and sometimes years. Power is not derived from the voice that happens to be reading it out loud! There is no need for cringe-worthy shouting, elongated annunciations, and almost sobbing, slobbering phrasing. There is no reason to read Claude McKay's "White House" as if you suddenly remembered that you had to go to the bathroom while you were walking across hot coals! Did Churchill read it that way? I haven't heard him, and will go look it up, but I don't think so! Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask" needs nothing but a sober, thoughtful reading. Let the words and the art speak for themselves. And finally, there is no reason to elongate the word "soar" as if you are singing, and raise your voice to ear splitting levels. You say "soar" calmly with a little emphasis, maybe, and believe it or not, we can imagine soaring.

If I could give this book less than 1 star for performance, well, you know the rest...