Spirit & Flame: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry



Spirit & Flame: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry

This edition

"Spirit & Flame: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry" . Ed. Keith Gilyard. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 1997. xxii+304 pp.

Table of contents

Ja zz: (the "say what?") is is ja lives / Amiri Baraka -- Dukes world / Amiri Baraka -- The domino theory (or Snoop Dogg rules the world) / Kenneth Carroll -- Theory on extinction or what happened to the dinosaurs? / Kenneth Carroll -- Upper Marlboro / Kenneth Carroll -- Something easy for ultra Black nationalists / Kenneth Carroll -- Short poem / Kenneth Carroll -- History as trash / Michelle Clinton -- Traditional post-modern neo-hoodoo afra-centric sister in a purple head rag mourning death and cooking / Michelle Clinton -- Seth Bingham / William W. Cook -- Still-life with woodstove / William W. Cook -- Spiritual / William W. Cook -- Black boys play the classics / Toi Derricotte -- Family secrets / Toi Derricotte -- 1994 inventory / Toi Derricotte -- From a letter: about snow / Toi Derricotte -- Vacation / Rita Dove -- In the old neighborhood / Rita Dove -- The drama / Suliaman El-Hadi -- The tired man / Suliaman El-Hadi -- Girl / Kelly Norman Ellis -- Tougaloo blues / Kelly Norman Ellis -- Phantom pains / Kelly Norman Ellis -- The boys of summer / Kelly Norman Ellis -- At General Electric, where they eat their/young / Robert Farr -- Van/Dyke / Robert Farr -- Lobengula: having a son at 38 / Nikky Finney -- Fishing among the learned / Nikky Finney -- This poem / Ruth Forman -- Waitin on summer / Ruth Forman -- Green boots n lil honeys / Ruth Forman -- You so woman / Ruth Forman -- Revolution / Brian Gilmore -- To be or not to be ... / Brian Gilmore -- Coming to the net / Brian Gilmore -- Gas station attendant / Brian Gilmore -- Daughter, that picture of you / Keith Gilyard -- Portraits of a moment / Keith Gilyard -- Letter / Keith Gilyard -- On top of it all / Keith Gilyard -- Cuz' mama played jazz / Daniel Gray-Kontar -- Not no socialism/communism classical, but some power to the people jazz / Daniel Gray-Kontar -- July / Daniel Gray-Kontar -- For my father / Duriel Harris -- Landscapes / Duriel Harris -- On the uptown Lexington Avenue express: Martin Luther King Day 1995 / Duriel Harris -- What we have lost / Duriel Harris -- "C" ing in colors: red / Safiya Henderson-Holmes -- "C" ing in colors: blue / Safiya Henderson-Holmes -- Fugitive slaves ... / Gale Jackson -- Alice / Gale Jackson -- Some of Betty's story round 1850 / Gale Jackson -- Blunts / Major L. Jackson -- Some kind of crazy / Major L. Jackson -- Don Pullen at the Zanzibar Blue Jazz Cafe, 1994 / Major L. Jackson -- Goree / Harriet Jacobs. -- And sometimes I hear this song in my head / Harriet Jacobs -- Imagination in flight: an improvisational duet / Harriet Jacobs -- Growing into my name / Harriet Jacobs -- On extending the olive branch to my own self / Harriet Jacobs -- About our hips / Harriet Jacobs -- Lesson on braces / Valerie Jean -- On apologies / Valerie Jean -- If I write a poem ... / A. Van Jordan -- A dance lesson / A. Van Jordan -- My father's retirement / A. Van Jordan -- Dream/eaters / Shirley Bradley LeFlore -- Rayboy blk & bluz / Shirley Bradley LeFlore -- This poem / Shirley Bradley LeFlore -- Delirium / Norman Loftis -- Big John / Norman Loftis -- Ruth / Norman Loftis -- Fights after school / Norman Loftis -- Brief encounter / Norman Loftis -- In memorium: robert hayden / Norman Loftis -- Poet: what ever happened to luther? / Haki R. Madhubuti -- Magnificent tomorrows / Haki R. Madhubuti -- Possibilities: remembering Malcolm X / Haki R. Madhubuti -- The union of two / Haki R. Madhubuti -- Fire keeper / Bahiyyih Maroon -- Nude womon spotted in cappuccino cup as advertising dollar co-opts another life / Bahiyyih Maroon -- Neighbor / Bahiyyih Maroon -- The big house revisited / Tony Medina -- After the verdict / Tony Medina -- My father's girlfriend / E. Ethelbert Miller -- You send me: Bertha Franklin, December 11, 1964 / E. Ethelbert Miller -- The night before the first day of school / E. Ethelbert Miller -- Players / E. Ethelbert Miller -- The boys of summer / E. Ethelbert Miller -- The song poem / Lenard D. Moore -- Gifts / Lenard D. Moore -- Haiku / Lenard D. Moore -- Tanka / Lenard D. Moore -- Children of the future / Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin -- Foxfire / Dominique Parker -- Sand / Dominique Parker -- The art of the nickname / Dominique Parker -- When Mark Deloach ruled the world / Dominique Parker -- Milestone: the birth of an ancestor / Eugene B. Redmond -- Gwensways / Eugene B. Redmond -- Aerolingual poet of prey / Eugene B. Redmond -- I am not the walrus / Ishmael Reed -- El Paso monologue / Ishmael Reed -- Moon/light quarter/back sack / Samuel F. Reynolds -- The whipping / Samuel F. Reynolds -- An open letter to all Black poets / Samuel F. Reynolds -- Suite repose / Carl Hancock Rux -- Pledge of allegiance / Carl Hancock Rux -- A whole two weeks after the Million Man March and still, if you'd ask me, this is all I could say about it / Richard Rykard -- New Orleans haiku / Kalamu ya Salaam -- I live in the mouth of history / Kalamu ya Salaam -- I just heard John Buffington died / Kalamu ya Salaam -- Little Black girls, the original eve (spreadin' more beautiful brown around) / Karen Williams -- There's history in my hair / Karen Williams -- In my grandmother's living room / Karen Williams -- Ntarama (Rwanda) chronicles / Karen Williams -- For backwards buppies / Karen Williams -- Jazz (a new interpretation) / Karen Williams -- Merging / Niama Leslie JoAnn Williams -- Afrocentricity / Niama Leslie JoAnn Williams -- For the dancer / Niama Leslie JoAnn Williams -- The meaning of the smell of sweat / Niama Leslie JoAnn Williams. -- Tongues in my mouth / Demetrice A. Worley -- Dancing in the dark / Demetrice A. Worley -- Las flores para una nina negra / Demetrice A. Worley -- Sandra / Demetrice A. Worley -- Blue Monday / Al Young -- Ravel: Bolero / Al Young -- Written in bracing, gray L.A. rainlight / Al Young -- Fifty-fifty / Al Young -- The one snapshot I couldn't take in France / Al Young -- Reward / Kevin Young -- Southern University, 1962 / Kevin Young -- Eddie Priest's barbershop & notary / Kevin Young.

Anthology editor(s)' discourse

• "Whenever we poets gathered to chart our course in the lean years, that is, the period (1975 or so until now?) when corporate publishers pulled the plug on the Electric Black Poetic, we knew we had serious literary work to do beyond merely writing poems. . . . I still harbored the desire, because anthologies are a key vehicle of dissemination, to edit a compendium that would hold up to a big, bad, promising, encompasing, Black, revolutionary, lyrically strutting ideal. I haven't totally fulfilled that urge yet, but 'Spirit & Flame: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry' takes much of the edge off. It is my attempt, limited though it is by certain logistics, to indicate the considerable range of contemporary African American poetry, a project not attempted in over twenty years" (xix).
• "'Spirit & Flame' is keenly aware of its most famous predecessors. By the late 1960s, a mix of anthologies like 'The Book of American Negro Poetry', edited by James Weldon Johnson (1922), 'American Negro Poetry', edited by Arna Bontemps (1963), and 'Black Voices' (only partly verse), edited by Abraham Chapman (1968), comprised a canon of twentieth-century African American poetry. All three remain in print, and among them one can find the more notable poems by the likes of Paul Laurence Dunbar, William Stanley Braithwaite, Claude McKay, Frank Horne, Georgia Douglas // Johnson, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Bennett, Sterling Brown, Melvin B. Tolson, Fenton Johnson, Waring Cuney, Owen Dodson, Naomi Long Madgett, Mari Evans, Margaret Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Robert Hayden, as well as Johnson and Bontemps.
"The editorial mission Johnson set for himself was to prove that African Americans were capable of high art, for it was his belief that 'no people that has produced great literature and art has ever been looked upon by the world as distinctly inferior.' Today this view seems a bit tenderminded and not wholly appropriate in the context of hardcore American racism. In any event, no anthologist since has felt the need to make the case for a Black poetry anthology on quite the same grounds. Bontemps, for example, was simply concerned with capturing the essence of a voluminous and varied outpouring of African American poetry. Chapman claimed he was up to much the same in 'Black Voices', but the collection was not particularly adventuresome in terms of poetry, not for 1968. Of the twenty-four poets featured in 'Black Voices', only Lance Jeffers and Lerone Bennett Jr. had not appeared in either Johnson's or Bontemps's anthologies. Approximately half of the poems appeared in the earlier works. Nonetheless, 'Black Voices' served to round out the canonical picture up to 1968. If some establishment figure broached the subject of Black poetry, one could be pretty sure of the creative direction in which he or she was pointing. Not to say that none of the above poets were radical; some were. They were all, however, familiar--which is why 'Black Fire: An Antholoogy of Afro-American Writing' was the big poetry news that year" (xix-xx).

Reviews and notices of anthology

• n/a

Cited in

• Indexed in "The Columbia Granger's Index to African-American Poetry" (1999) (gives title as "Spirit of Flame")

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