New Negro Poets U.S.A.



New Negro Poets U.S.A.

This edition

"New Negro Poets U.S.A." Ed. Langston Hughes. Foreword Gwendolyn Brooks. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1964. 127 pp.

Online access

Table of contents

Gwendolyn Brooks / Foreword

Jay Wright / This Morning
Samuel Allen / Love Song
Mari Evans / Point of No Return / Mari Evans
Audre Lorde / And Fall Shall Sit in Judgment
James A. Emanuel / Treehouse
Mari Evans / If There Be Sorrow
Naomi Long Madgett / Mortality
James P. Vaughan / Three Kings

Margaret Danner / Far from Africa
Ray Durem / Award
Ted Joans / It Is Time
Oliver La Grone / My America
Oliver La Grone / This Hour
Oliver La Grone / Bathed Is My Blood
Naomi Long Madgett / Midway
Don Johnson / O White Mistress
Dudley Randall / Southern Road
Conrad Kent Rivers / On Passing Two Negroes
Dudley Randall / Legacy: My South
Conrad Kent Rivers / Still Voice of Harlem
Lucy Smith / Face of Poverty
G. C. Oden / Map

Lerone Bennett / Blues and Bitterness
Thurmond Snyder / Beale Street, Memphis
LeRoi Jones / Lines to Garcia Lorca
Mance Williams / For Lover Man, and All the Other Young Men Who Failed to Return from World War II
Alfred B. Spellman / John Coltrane--An Impartial Review
Vilma Howard / The Citizen
Dudley Randall / Memorial Wreath
Alfred B. Spellman / Zapata & the Landlord
Isabella M. Brown / Prayer
James P. Vaughn / Movie Queen
James P. Vaughn / Two Ladies Bidding Us "Good Morning"

Julian Bond / Rotation
Mance Williams / A Year Without Seasons
George Love / The Noonday April Sun
Solomon Edwards / Brothers
Tom Dent / Love
Allen Polite / Stopped
LeRoi Jones / Epistrophe
LeRoi Jones / Each Morning
Solomon Edwards / Dream
David Henderson / Sketches of Harlem
Mari Evans / Shrine to What Should Be
Julia Fields / Madness One Monday Evening
Mari Evans / . . . and the old women gathered
Tom Dent / Come Visit My Garden
James A. Emanuel / Wedding Procession
Solomon Edwards / Shoplifter
Ted Joans / The .38
Vivian Ayers / Instantaneous
Julian Bond / Habana
Thurmond Snyder / The Beast with Chrome Teeth
Thurmond Snyder / Seeds
G. C. Oden / Review from Staten Island
G. C. Oden / A Private Letter to Brazil

Samuel Allen / If the Stars Should Fall
LeRoi Jones / Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note
James A. Emanuel / Voyage of Jimmy Poo
Carl Gardner / Reflections
David Henderson / Downtown-Boy Uptown
Calvin C. Hernton / The Distant Drum
Calvin C. Hernton / Madhouse
Allen Polite / Am Driven Mad
Helen Morgan Brooks / Words
Mari Evans / Where Have You Gone . . . ?
Audre Lorde / Pirouette
Conrad Kent Rivers / Four sheets to the wind and a one-way ticket to France
Helen Morgan Brooks / Plans
Julia Fields / I Heard a Young Man Saying
Robert J. Abrams / Two Poems
Raymond Patterson / When I Awoke
Oliver Pitcher / The Pale Blue Casket
Oliver Pitcher / Raison d'Etre

Biographical Notes
Index of Names

Anthology editor(s)' discourse

• from Gwendolyn Brooks's foreword: "At the present time, poets who happen also to be Negroes are twice-tried. They have to write poetry, and they have to remember that they are Negroes. Often they wish that they could solve the Negro question once and for all, and go on from such success to the composition of textured sonnets or buoyant villanelles. . . . In the work of most of today's Negro poets the reader will discover evidences of double dedication, hints that artists have accepted a two-headed responsibility" (13).

Reviews and notices of anthology

• "Negro Digest" 13.11 (Sept. 1964): 51-52. [Google Books]
"Let it be said at once: In 'New Negro Poets: U.S.A.' (Indiana U. Press, $4.95), there is much that is good and more that is promising but precious little that reaches the heights of poetic excellence. And with that point made, the book can be seen in perspective. The Editor Langston Hughes, long a seeker and encourager of writing talent among young Negroes, has compiled here some 90 poems by a total of 37 poets of varying capabilities and degrees of development. A season back, there was reason to stop and wonder at the work of Ray Durem published in Paul Breman's anthology, 'sixes and sevens.' Who was this man? Where had be been? In 'New Negro Poets: U.S.A.', Mr. Durem provides part of the answer in the poem, 'Award: A Gold Watch to the FBI Man Who Has Followed Me for Twenty-Five Years': [quotes this poem of 25 lines] Alas, as Fate would have it, Mr. Durem is now dead" (51-52)
"There are good poems by LeRoi Jones and Margaret Danner (who unhappily seems to publish over and over the 'same' poems) and Gloria Oden, and a few others, and many poems which indicate that their authors have the spark. It will be interesting to see, five years hence, how many of this group will have justified Langston Hughes' faith in their potential. 'New Negro Poets: U.S.A.' has a forward by Gwendolyn Brooks, the nation's only Negro winner of a Pulitzer Prize. Writes she: '. . . There is enough magic, enough sure flight, enough meaningful strength to inspire a happy surmise that here are some of the prevailing stars of an early tomorrow.' Negro Digest readers will recognize Miss Danner, Conrad Kent Rivers, Naomi Long Madgett, James Emanuel and Dudley Randall" (52). [full text, except for poetry excerpt]

Commentary on anthology

• "Anthology of thirty-seven Twentieth Century black American poets, many of whom are not well known. In his 'Biographical Notes' (pp. 117-126), Hughes gives some bibliographical information on many of the poets" (Rowell 1972: 57).
• "Though the word "Negro" is outdated now, this anthology stands as a slender collection of the foremost black poets writing during postwar, civil rights America. Standard anthologized poets such as Nikki Giovanni, Dudley Randall, and LeRoi Jones (now Amiri Baraka) are among the best. But many of the other thirty-seven poets are no less noteworthy. Arranged alphabetically by poet, the volume is divided into five sections, with 'Protest' and 'Personal, Reflective Statements' containing the most evocative verse. The poets write with anger and pride at being an invisible underclass, but also with great sensitivity of the great joy and warmth in their lives. Gwendolyn Brooks penned a short foreword, explaining that these poets are bound to a double standard: 'They have to write poetry, and they have to remember that they are Negroes.' Although many anthologies of black poetry exist, this volume is particularly recommended for the general or young reader—each poems is blunt and powerful" ("The Columbia Granger's Guide to Poetry Anthologies". Ed. William Katz, Linda Sternberg Katz, and Esther Crain. 2nd enlarged ed. New York: Columbia UP, 1994. 11)
• Alexander, Elizabeth. "The Black Poet as Canon-Maker: Langston Hughes and the Road to "New Negro Poets: USA"." "The Black Interior". Saint Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf, 2004. Excerpt published as "The Black Poet as Canon-Maker: Langston Hughes, "New Negro Poets", and American Poetry's Segregated Past." "Poetry Foundation" 2 Feb. 2007. Web .
Alexander's discussion makes use of the Langston Hughes papers at the Beinecke Library, Yale University. She discusses the long gestation of this volume, from 1960, when Hughes first proposed it to Indiana University Press, to 1964, when the volume was published. Along the way, the press's editors expressed reservations about much of the content, leading to various revised decisions about the poems to include. Hughes had also wanted to arrange the selections alphabetically by author, but one of the editors at Indiana University Press proposed the grouping of poems by types (or, as Hughes commented, by "moods") and this is what was adopted in the end. By the end of the long process of bringing this volume to print, Alexander suggests, Hughes grew "weary" of the struggle and the final product was not so much his own project as that of the press.

See also

• Gwendolyn Brooks read her introduction to this volume to start off her poetry reading at "The Negro writer in the United States" conference in Asilomar, California, ca. August 5-9, 1964. [Recording available via Pacifica Radio Archives (see link).]
• It does not touch on "New Negro Poets: USA," but there is a report by Hoyt W. Fuller on the contentions and conflicts at this literary gathering in Asilomar in "Negro Digest" 13.11 (Sept. 1964): 42-48. (see Google Books)

Cited in

Kinnamon 1997: 470
• Indexed in "The Columbia Granger's Index to African-American Poetry" (1999)

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