Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me: Narrative Poetry from Black Oral Tradition



Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me: Narrative Poetry from Black Oral Tradition

This edition

""Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me": Narrative Poetry from Black Oral Tradition" . Comp. Bruce Jackson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1974. xvi+244 pp. + 1 audio disc. (Rounder Records, 1976).

Other editions, reprints, and translations

• "Get You Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me!" Ed. Bruce Jackson. Rounder, 1998. CD. 37:48 min. With 36-page booklet. (Recordings made 1964-70.)
• Repr. as "Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me: African American Narrative Poetry from Oral Tradition". New York: Routledge, 2004. xvi+244 pp. + 1 audio disc.

Table of contents

Contents (1974 ed.): n/a [Detailed contents of 2004 ed. available in WorldCat]
Contents (1976 audio disc): Signifying monkey (I) -- Signifying monkey (II) -- Partytime monkey -- Poolshooting monkey -- Hobo Ben -- Get in out of the rain -- Brock Hankton -- Ups on the farm -- Titanic -- Stackolee -- Pimpin' Sam -- 'Flicted Arm Pete -- The lame and the whore -- Joe the Grinder and G.I. Joe -- Dance of the freaks.

Reviews and notices of anthology

• Publisher's description (1998 CD release): "Here collected are 'toasts' of the black American oral tradition. It is obvious that herein lie the roots of modern rap in its most nihilist of expressions. The bulk of these recordings were made in the most fertile breeding ground of this violent and graphic poetry: jails. Hell-bent characters like The Signifying Monkey, Stackolee, and 'Flicted Arm Pete suffer degradingly, take their revenge cruelly, and perform supernatural sexual feats in the common vocabulary of anal-genital idioms and vivid slang. Unlike most songs, these pieces lack choruses, but elements of rhythm and rhyme aid the orators in accurate recitations from memory of this lively and adults-only entertainment. Pimps, hustlers, and way bad dudes perform legendary, heroic feats while mucking about in the slimiest depths of society. The impromptu deliveries of these jovial but hardened performers come across whimsical and nostalgic, and not a single syllable is given with intent to be rude or insulting. Every line is charged with the unveiling of a secret and gritty world. The booklet contains complete texts of these base odes, including a Halloween-themed orgy called "Dance of the Freaks." The title, incidentally, refers to a timely inclusion of a tough, black Titanic survivor's tale. Any individual's royalties from this bawdy examination of jail house tradition is donated to Amnesty International" (All Music!-mr0000150459 )

Commentary on anthology

• Collection of "worksongs and toasts, mainly from Texas prisons" (Kinnamon 1997: 480).

Cited in

Kinnamon 1997: 480
• Indexed in "The Columbia Granger's Index to African-American Poetry" (1999)

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