Minor Notes, Volume 1



Minor Notes, Volume 1

This edition

"Minor Notes, Volume 1". Ed. Jesse McCarthy and Joshua Bennett. Foreword by Tracy K. Smith. New York: Penguin, 2023. 272 pp.

Online access

● Google Books (limited preview)

Table of contents

● Tracy K. Smith / Foreword
● Joshua Bennett and Jesse McCarthy / Introduction

From "Poems by a Slave" (1837)
● George Moses Horton / Praise of Creation
● George Moses Horton / On the Silence of a Young Lady, On Account of the Imaginary Flight of Her Suitor
● George Moses Horton / The Lover's Farewell
● George Moses Horton / On Liberty and Slavery
● George Moses Horton / To Eliza
● George Moses Horton / Love
● George Moses Horton / On the Death of an Infant
● George Moses Horton / The Slave's Complaint
● George Moses Horton / On the Truth of the Saviour
● George Moses Horton / On Spring
● George Moses Horton / On Summer
● George Moses Horton / On Winter
● George Moses Horton / Heavenly Love
● George Moses Horton / On the Death of Rebecca
● George Moses Horton / On Death
● George Moses Horton / On the Evening and Morning
● George Moses Horton / On the Poetic Muse
● George Moses Horton / Consequences of Happy Marriages
● George Moses Horton / Lines, On Hearing of the Intention of a Gentleman to Purchase the Poet's Freedom
● George Moses Horton / To the Gad-Fly
● George Moses Horton / The Loss of Female Character

Selections from "Visions of the Dusk" (1915)
● Fenton Johnson / Harlem: The Black City
● Fenton Johnson / Two Songs [The Song of the Passing; Revery]
● Fenton Johnson / The Creed of the Slave
● Fenton Johnson / The Soul of Boston
● Fenton Johnson / The Soldiers of the Dusk
● Fenton Johnson / Slave Death Song
● Fenton Johnson / Jubal's Free
● Fenton Johnson / Song of the Whirlwind
● Fenton Johnson / My God in Heaven Said to Me
● Fenton Johnson / Plantation Sermon
● Fenton Johnson / The Phantom Rabbit
● Fenton Johnson / S. Coleridge Taylor
● Fenton Johnson / Ethiopia
● Fenton Johnson / Douglass
● Fenton Johnson / Declaration
● Fenton Johnson / Comin' Home

from "African Nights" (1920) [in "Others for 1919: An Anthology of the New Verse," ed. Alfred Kreymborg. New York: Nicholas L. Brown, 1920]
● Fenton Johnson / The Banjo Player
● Fenton Johnson / The Scarlet Woman
● Fenton Johnson / The Minister
● Fenton Johnson / Rulers: Philadelphia [not in "African Nights"]
● Fenton Johnson / Aunt Hannah Jackson
● Fenton Johnson / Aunt Jane Allen
● Fenton Johnson / Tired

Selections from "Bronze: A Book of Verse" (1922)
● Georgia Douglas Johnson / Black Woman
● Georgia Douglas Johnson / Sonnet to Those Who See but Darkly
● Georgia Douglas Johnson / Perspective
● Georgia Douglas Johnson / Cosmopolite
● Georgia Douglas Johnson / Laocoön
● Georgia Douglas Johnson / We Face the Future
● Georgia Douglas Johnson / To Samuel Coleridge Taylor, upon Hearing His "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child"

● Georgia Douglas Johnson / The Measure [from "The Heart of a Woman and Other Poems" (1918)]
● Georgia Douglas Johnson / Shall I Say, "My Son, You're Branded"? [from "Bronze" (1922)]
● Georgia Douglas Johnson / Common Dust [from "Share My World" (1962)]
● Georgia Douglas Johnson / Old Black Men [from "Caroling Dusk," ed. Countee Cullen (1927)]
● Georgia Douglas Johnson / The Heart of a Woman [from "The Heart of a Woman and Other Poems" (1918)]

Selections from "Poems" (1910)
● Henrietta Cordelia Ray / Toussaint L'Ouverture
● Henrietta Cordelia Ray / Aspiration
● Henrietta Cordelia Ray / Self-Mastery
● Henrietta Cordelia Ray / Limitations
● Henrietta Cordelia Ray / The Poet's Ministrants
● Henrietta Cordelia Ray / Milton
● Henrietta Cordelia Ray / In Memoriam Paul Laurence Dunbar
● Henrietta Cordelia Ray / Ode to the Twentieth Century (A Dream-Prophecy)

Selections from "Black Labor Chants and Other Poems" (1939):
from section titled "Labor Chants":
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Black Labor Chant
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / "Freedom in Mah Soul"
from section titled "Under the Hawthorn Tree":
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Old Faithful
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Western Town
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Cheyenne Fiddler
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Western Plains
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Canyon Pain
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Mountains
from section titled "Symbiosis":
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Boston Tea
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Resignation
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Tree Surgery
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Representation
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Transfer of Training
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Heretic
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Theology
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Predestination
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Auntie's Notion
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Native Intelligence
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Bank Porter
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Proof
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Pok Chops
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Liberty Bond
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Economy
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Ad Infinitum
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Eclipse
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Orthodoxy
from section titled "Miscellaneous Poems":
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / Pigment
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / To Nita
● David Wadsworth Cannon Jr. / World Weariness--"Weltschmerz"

● Anne Spencer / At the Carnival
● Anne Spencer / The Wife-Woman
● Anne Spencer / Translation
● Anne Spencer / Dunbar
● Anne Spencer / [Earth, I Thank You]
● Anne Spencer / Grapes: Still-Life
● Anne Spencer / Creed
● Anne Spencer / Lines to a Nasturtium
● Anne Spencer / White Things
● Anne Spencer / [God Never Planted a Garden]
● Anne Spencer / Life-Long, Poor Browning . . .
● Anne Spencer / Questing
● Anne Spencer / Before the Feast of Shushan
● Anne Spencer / Requiem
● Anne Spencer / Change
● Anne Spencer / For Jim, Easter Eve
● Anne Spencer / Substitution
● Anne Spencer / [Thou Art Come to Us, O God, This Year]
● Anne Spencer / He Said:

● Angelina Weld Grimké / Fragment
● Angelina Weld Grimké / The Black Finger
● Angelina Weld Grimké / At April
● Angelina Weld Grimké / Trees
● Angelina Weld Grimké / A Winter Twilight
● Angelina Weld Grimké / Tenebris
● Angelina Weld Grimké / To the Dunbar High School
● Angelina Weld Grimké / The Eyes of My Regret
● Angelina Weld Grimké / Death
● Angelina Weld Grimké / Vigil
● Angelina Weld Grimké / For the Candle Light
● Angelina Weld Grimké / Grass Fingers
● Angelina Weld Grimké / Greenness
● Angelina Weld Grimké / Brown Girl
● Angelina Weld Grimké / A Mona Lisa
● Angelina Weld Grimké / El Beso
● Angelina Weld Grimké / Oh, My Heart, for the Spring!
● Angelina Weld Grimké / Under the Days
● Angelina Weld Grimké / When the Green Lies over the Earth

Reviews and notices of anthology

● Garner, Dwight. "The Voices of Unsung Black Poets, Revived and Amplified." "New York Times" 10 April 2023.
"Bennett and McCarthy, in their introduction, set out their criteria for inclusion in “Minor Notes.” They list things like “minimal appearance” in anthologies and “very little, if anything, in the way of secondary literature focusing on their work.” But it becomes plain that they chose these poets because they still speak across generations. This is a passion project."
● Chisolm, Archuleta. "New Series of Black Poetry Sheds Light on Neglected Poets of the 19th and 20th Centuries." "BlackGirlNerds.com" n.d. (ante-11 April 2023).
● "The Anthologist: A Compendium of Uncommon Collections." "Poets & Writers" (May/June 2023).
"In Minor Notes: Volume 1 (Penguin Classics, June 2023), editors Joshua Bennett and Jesse McCarthy, both scholars of African American literature, aim to widen the canon of Black poetry by spotlighting poets who have been overlooked in favor of what Tracy K. Smith calls, in her foreword to the volume, “‘the headliners’ of African American poetry.” This first of what is billed as a multi-volume anthology includes a generous number of poems by each “minor” nineteenth-century [sic] Black bard included, giving readers an understanding of their unique voice and poetic concerns. George Moses Horton, an enslaved poet who opens the collection, contemplates the natural world, unrequited love, and childhood death, evincing a Romantic sensibility even within the confines of bondage, which he critiques in poems such as “The Slave’s Complaint.” David Wadsworth Cannon Jr., Henrietta Cordelia Ray, Anne Spencer, and other poets interrogate everything from labor politics to friendship in finely wrought lyrics that delight and surprise, prompting the reader to wonder how these geniuses could have been sidelined for so long. In her foreword, Smith praises the collection for connecting contemporary Black poetics with a more expansive past: “The conversation in which Black poets are currently engaged, in the turbulent first quarter of the twenty-first century, began generations ago when our forebears brought poetic language to the task of pondering and protesting the elusive nature of freedom,” she writes."

Commentary on anthology

● Johnson, Georgia Douglas. "Three Poems" [Cosmopolite; Common Dust; Black Woman; along with an adaptation of the editors' headnote on Johnson, from "Minor Notes, Vol. 1"]. "The New Criterion" 41.8 (April 2023).
● Smith, Tracy K. "The Blk Mind Is a Continuous Mind." "The Paris Review" 13 March 2023. [excerpt from foreword to "Minor Notes, Vol. 1"]

See also

● George Moses Horton, "Poems by a Slave" (1837)
● Fenton Johnson, "Visions of the Dusk" (1915)
● Fenton Johnson, "African Nights" [six poems], in "Others, an Anthology of the New Verse". Ed. Alfred Kreymborg. New York: Nicholas L. Brown, 1920.
● Georgia Douglas Johnson, "Bronze: A Book of Verse." Boston: B. J. Brimmer, 1922.
● Georgia Douglas Johnson, "The Heart of a Woman and Other Poems." Boston: The Cornhill Company, 1918.
● H. Cordelia Ray. "Poems." New York: The Grafton Press, 1910.
● Lena Van Arkadie. Review of "Black Labor Chants and Other Poems," by David Wadsworth Cannon, Jr. "Virginia Statesman" 13.6 (8 Feb. 1941): 2 (col. 2).
"The poems in "Black Labor Chant" were collected by the author's mother, Mrs. Gertrude Cannon. The little volume is divided into four parts, namely; "Labor Chants" (consisting of "Black Labor Chant" and "Freedom in Mah Soul", which were written for use by the Virginia State College verse-speaking choir); "Under the Hawthorn Tree"; "Symbiosis"; and Miscellaneous Poems. There are a total of thirty-six poems in the little volume. The poems are very uniquely illustrated by John Borican, personal friend of the author and graduate of Virginia State College. All of Mr. Cannon's poetry demonstrates a high quality, and has a style which is neither Hughes' nor Cullen's but appears to be a combination of both . . . . [ellipsis in original] this tends to lend it rarity. There is both humor and pathos running through his poetry, particularly in the group, "Symbiosis"."

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