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(03/24/2015) The Manner Music by Charles Reznikoff. Santa Barbara. 1977. Black Sparrow Press. 133 pages. hardcover. 0876853254

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   FROM THE INTRODUCTION by Robert Creeley - A story is an extraordinary human possibility, and people have been making use of its resources no doubt since time, like they say, began. There are, of course, many stories, and many ways of telling each story—many, many variations and points of view and opinions as to what, after all, was the point. What happened? Well, it was like this. .. So the story begins, or might, to tell what happened , or might have happened, or didn't. One had not known, sadly, that Charles Reznikoff wrote novels. That a man should have such quiet and singular genius so modestly put aside (by himself) is regrettable. So much does shout at us, belligerently claiming attention for its style or its intelligence or its newness, that a story such as this one, so shyly assertive of what it so truly knows, is, humanly, such deep relief and reassurance—that one of us can care. The circumstances involved with its writing are briefly summarized by its present publisher, John Martin, as follows: ‘I have recently gone through Charles Reznikoff's lifetime accumulation of manuscript, and was thunderstruck to find a carefully typed, completed novel, which he apparently never mentioned to anyone, or submitted for publication. It was, I think, composed in the early 1950's and is called ‘The Manner Music .’ It is autobiographical, with one character, the narrator of the story, representing an aspect of Charles himself—the Charles who worked as a drummer, selling ladies' hats, who was disillusioned at trying to find the leisure to write, at getting his poetry accepted, etc. The protagonist of the novel, called Jude Dalsimer, is the Charles who never doubted his worth as a poet and who was determined to live out this destiny regardless of circumstance. A third character in the story, called Paul Pasha, is a portrait of Charles' most faithful friend for many years, who was a successful motion picture producer. I believe this novel was written in response to a letter William Carlos Williams wrote Charles in the late 1940's, at a time when Charles' career was at low ebb, urging him to continue writing at any cost, and if possible to write a novel.. .’ Stories are changed in telling, of course, so this one is not a simple rehearsal of a part of a man's life. There are, in fact, many stories here, ‘the manner, music ,’ an interweaving of a complex of ‘things’ happening, being recalled and told. The plot is an ageless one, the story of two men who have known each other since they were boys. One tells us what he knows of the other's life, as he is witness to it but also as the other tells him of it. Times are reasonably good, then are not, then come to the anticipated disaster. Jude Dalsimer, whose life is the novel's center, will not give up his music , which is not a secure means of livelihood as his friend well knows, having himself yielded similar hopes for a more dependable job. But, for Jude, it is the means of transforming all the welter of emotion and event into an articulate form. Neither his wife nor friend, nor anyone else, for that matter, can understand it. But, as his friend finally says: ‘If Jude had wanted to write music and had not done his best to do so, he might have lived longer and more pleasantly but, as he might have explained, it is as if one enlists in an army or perhaps is drafted: he must fight and may fall but may not desert. Most do, of course. I did, I suppose...’

 

  Charles Reznikoff (August 31, 1894 – January 22, 1976) was an American poet known for his long work, Testimony: The United States (1885-1915), Recitative (1934-1979). The term Objectivist was first coined for him. The two-volume Testimony was based on court records and explored the black experience in the United States. He followed this with Holocaust (1975), based on court testimony about Nazi death camps during World War II. When Louis Zukofsky was asked by Harriet Monroe to provide an introduction to what became known as the Objectivist issue of Poetry, he contributed his essay, Sincerity and Objectification: With Special Reference to the Work of Charles Reznikoff. This established the name of the loose-knit group of 2nd generation modernist poets and the two characteristics of their poetry: sincerity and objectification.

 

 

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(03/23/2015) Sunset Gun by Dorothy Parker. New York. 1928. Boni & Liveright. 75 pages. hardcover.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   A collection of 68 poems.by Dorothy Parker, including A Pig's-Eye View of Literature: The Lives and Times of John Keat, Percy Bysshe Shelly and George Gordon Noel, Lord Byron; Mortal Enemy, Penelope plus others. Poems in this book first appeared in the Bookman, the New Republic, the Nation, the New Yorker, Life, the Yale Review, McCall's, the New York World and the New York Post. CONTENTS: Godmother, Partial Comfort, The Red dress, Victoria, The Counsellor, Parable for a Certain Virgin, Bric-a-Brac, Interior, Reuben's Children, for R.C.B., There Was One, On Cheating the Fiddler, Incurable, Fable, The Second Oldest Story, A Pig's-Eye View of Literature: The Lives and Times of John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley and George Gordon Noel, Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, Harriet Beecher Stowe, D.G. Rosetti, Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas and His Son, Alfred Lord Tennyson, George Gissing, Walter Savage Landor, George Sand, Mortal Enemy, Penelope, Bohemia, The Searched Soul, The Trusting Heart, Thought for a Sunshiny Morning, The Gentlest Lady, The Maid-Servant at the Inn, Fulfillment, Daylight Saving, Surprise, Swan Song, On Being a Woman, Afternoon, A Dream Lies Dead, The Homebody, Second Love, Fair Weather, The Whistling Girl, Story, Frustration, Healed, Landscape, Post-Graduate, Verses in the Night: Honeymoon, Triolet, Melange for the Unknown George, Liebstod, For a Favorite Grand-Daughter, Dilemma, Theory, A Fairly Sad Tale, The Last Question, Superfluous Advice, Directions for Finding the Bard, But Not Forgotten, Two-Volume Novel, Pour Prendre Conge, For a Lady Who Must Write Verse, Rhyme Against Living, Wisdom, Coda. Parker published her first volume of poetry, Enough Rope, in 1926. The collection sold 47,000 copies and garnered impressive reviews. The Nation described her verse as "caked with a salty humor, rough with splinters of disillusion, and tarred with a bright black authenticity". Although some critics, notably the New York Times reviewer, dismissed her work as "flapper verse", the volume helped cement Parker's reputation for sparkling wit. Parker released two more volumes of verse, Sunset Gun (1928) and Death and Taxes (1931), along with the short story collections Laments for the Living (1930) and After Such Pleasures (1933). Not So Deep as a Well (1936) collected much of the material previously published in Rope, Gun and Death and she re-released her fiction with a few new pieces in 1939 under the title Here Lies.

 

  Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American poet, short story writer, critic and satirist, best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th-century urban foibles. From a conflicted and unhappy childhood, Parker rose to acclaim, both for her literary output in such venues as The New Yorker and as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table. Following the breakup of the circle, Parker traveled to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting. Her successes there, including two Academy Award nominations, were curtailed as her involvement in left-wing politics led to a place on the Hollywood blacklist. Dismissive of her own talents, she deplored her reputation as a "wisecracker". Nevertheless, her literary output and reputation for her sharp wit have endured.

 

 

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(03/22/2015) Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems Of Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker. New York. 1996. Scribner. Compiled & With an Introduction by Stuart Y. Silverstein. 256 pages. hardcover. 0684818558

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

0684818558   Dorothy Parker wrote more than three hundred poems and verses for a variety of popular magazines and newspapers during the early years of her literary career. She collected most of these pieces in three volumes of poetry, Enough Rope, Sunset Gun and Death and Taxes. It is the remaining poems and verses, the ones that she failed to collect and whose very existence has been unknown to most of the general public for more than half a century, that comprise this volume. Eclectic and exuberant, the 122 forgotten poems and verses display the raw talent and dexterity of America's most renowned cynic. Some are topical, providing gimlet-eyed commentary on urban life from the First World War through the mid-twenties. With incomparable wit, Parker dissects contemporary fads and, in the raucous "Hate Verses," gleefully maligns most facets of humanity and popular culture, from husbands and wives to bohemians, slackers, summer resorts and movies. Some of the pieces are rare examples of Parker's experimentation with structured poetic forms. Others are more personal, celebrating her love of animals or scrutinizing the perils of passion. Notoriously - and irrationally - critical of her own work, Parker chose not to include this poetry in her previous collections. Nonetheless, many of the lost poems compare with her best, and nearly all display the distinctive wit, irony and precision that continue to attract succeeding generations of readers. In an authoritative and immensely entertaining introduction, Stuart Y. Silverstein recounts Parker's celebrated career.

 

  Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American poet, short story writer, critic and satirist, best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th-century urban foibles. From a conflicted and unhappy childhood, Parker rose to acclaim, both for her literary output in such venues as The New Yorker and as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table. Following the breakup of the circle, Parker traveled to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting. Her successes there, including two Academy Award nominations, were curtailed as her involvement in left-wing politics led to a place on the Hollywood blacklist. Dismissive of her own talents, she deplored her reputation as a "wisecracker". Nevertheless, her literary output and reputation for her sharp wit have endured.

 

 

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(03/21/2015) Islandia: A Poem by Maria Negroni. Barrytown. 2001. Station Hill Press/Barrytown Ltd. Translated from the Spanish by Anne Twitty. Bilingual Edition. 171 pages. paperback. 1886449155

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   ‘Islandia is an extraordinary cycle of poems written in two very different and contrasting forms - the Nordic, masculine, epic style of the prose poems, and the Mediterranean, feminine, mannered lyric style of the others. Anne Twitty’s translation of this masterful cycle has itself been carried out with great mastery.’ - Esther Allen, translator of Octavio Paz, Rosario Castellanos, and Jorge Luis Borges. ‘The saga of Scandinavians, who - in flight or exile - founded Islandia, is counterpointed by the ironic verses of a female speaker who is also a shipwreck, a fugitive, and a seeker-inventor of islands. In this work, destinies cross—that of vehement navigators among the whales and mists, and that of a writer who, telling the saga of others, assumes and discards a sumptuous mask.’ - Julio E. Miranda, Domingo Hoy, Caracas. ‘With remarkable beauty, a major poet deciphers a landscape and a language embedded in the most profound Latin American tradition.’ - Tomás Eloy MartInez, author of Santa Evita. ‘A female voice brilliantly deconstructs the masculine constellation: epic/adventure/war... A severely wrought patina makes for a sense of excavation, out of which rises a different, female, spirit of adventure. In the words of the H.D. epigraph: ‘We are discoverers / of the not-known / the unrecorded; we have no maps.’ - Rosmarie Waidrop, author of The Reproduction of Profiles. ‘It is not easy to find a form for journey… for there is no poetry without cost.’ So say the ongoing voices in Maria Negroni’s remarkable and innovative book-length poem. It is a compelling work, deftly connecting embodied experience to history and a cornucopia of language.’ - Sophie Cabot Black, author of The Misunderstanding of Nature.

 

  María Negroni was born October 9, 1951 in Rosario, Argentina. She has published eleven books of poetry, three collections of essays, and two novels, as well as works in translation from French and English. Her work has appeared internationally in literary journals, including Diario de Poesía, Página 12, The Paris Review, Circumference, and Bomb, among others. She has been awarded two Argentine National Book Awards, for her collection of essays Ciudad Gótica (1996) and her poetry collection Viaje de la noche (1997). Her book of poems Islandia, in Anne Twitty’s translation, received a PEN Translation Award in 2001. She has been a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Fundación Octavio Paz, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and others. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. Winner of the following awards - International Prize for Essay Writing from Siglo XXI, 2002 PEN Award for best book of poetry in translation, for Islandia, 2000-2001 Octavio Paz Fellowship for Poetry, 1997 Argentine National Book Award, for El viaje de la noche, 1994 Guggenheim Fellowships.

 

Anne Twitty is a writer, interpreter and translator who lives in New York City. She was for some years editor of the Epicycle section of Parabola Magazine, where some of her essays were published. Anne Twitty’s translations of selections from Maria Negroni’s works have appeared in Hopscotch, Mandorla, The Paris Review and on-line at www.archipelago.org. Her translation of Night Journey (El viaje de la noché) appeared in a bilingual edition published by Princeton University Press in 2002.

 

 

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(03/19/2015) Seeds Of Corruption by Sabri Moussa. Boston. 1980. Houghton Mifflin. Winner Pegasus Prize For Literature. Translated from the Arabic by Mona N. Mikhail. 169 pages. hardcover. Jacket by Danile Earl Thaxton. 0395285410

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Set in the harsh desert of eastern Egypt, Seeds of Corruption is the tale of a Ulysses-like hero in search of himself and his ultimate salvation. The novel becomes a singularly compelling play between the peace and desolation of the desert, the corruption of the dissolute Egyptian king and his court, the purity of the hero's daughter, and the simple dignity of the fishermen and desert Bedouins. Seeds of Corruption eloquently portrays the corruption of the Egyptian monarchy and the aristocracy before 1952 as aided by foreign influence. Nicola, a mine engineer of European background, must decide his true identity. Is he an exploiter, like his bourgeois business partner, or is he more like the people of the desert whom he admires so deeply for their ancestral dignity and sense of honor? The novel offers a vivid and colorful panorama of the Eastern desert by the Red Sea. Such a distant place is a refreshing departure and Moussa's style is rich in imagery and metaphors, making this book a masterpiece of fine Arabic writing.

 

  Sabri Moussa was born in 1932 in Dumiyat, Egypt, and lives in Cairo. He started writing in 1951 and has published four collections of short stories, three novels, three travel books and scripts for ten major Egyptian films, some of which, including Al-Boustagi [The Postman], are now considered classics.

 

 

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(03/18/2015) Charles Reznikoff: A Critical Essay by Milton Hindus. London. 1977. Menard Press. 69 pages. paperback. 0903400081

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Charles Reznikoff (August 31, 1894 – January 22, 1976) was an American poet known for his long work, Testimony: The United States (1885-1915), Recitative (1934-1979). The term Objectivist was first coined for him. The two-volume Testimony was based on court records and explored the black experience in the United States. He followed this with Holocaust (1975), based on court testimony about Nazi death camps during World War II. When Louis Zukofsky was asked by Harriet Monroe to provide an introduction to what became known as the Objectivist issue of Poetry, he contributed his essay, Sincerity and Objectification: With Special Reference to the Work of Charles Reznikoff. This established the name of the loose-knit group of 2nd generation modernist poets and the two characteristics of their poetry: sincerity and objectification.

 

  Milton Hindus (1916-1988) was a scholar of American and European literature and was one of the original 13 professors that founded Brandeis University in 1948. He taught there until his retirement in 1981. A native New Yorker, Professor Hindus was teaching at the University of Chicago when he was recruited as by Brandeis. He devoted much of his time in recent years to the work of Charles Reznikoff, a Brooklyn-born poet and editor (1894-1976). Professor Hindus wrote ''Charles Reznikoff: Man and Poet'' (1984), and ''Charles Reznikoff: A Critical Essay'' (1977), and worked on ''The Collected Letters of Charles Reznikoff.' He wrote ''Celine: The Crippled Giant'' (1950), a critical biography of the French writer Louis Ferdinand Celine, which was reissued as a paperback in 1997. Hindus was fascinated by Celine’s poetry, but repelled by his anti-semitism. Hindus corresponded with Celine for several years and the two eventually met for a series of meetings in Denmark in 1949. He also wrote ''The Proustian Vision'' (1954), ''A Reader's Guide to Marcel Proust'' (1962), and ''F. Scott Fitzgerald: An Introduction and Interpretation'' (1967). He was the author of ''Leaves of Grass: One Hundred Years Later'' (1955), which remains in print and earned him the Walt Whitman Prize of the Poetry Society of America. He also edited ''Walt Whitman'' for the Critical Heritage Series (1997). Also among his 16 books were ''The Jewish East Side: 1881-1924'' (1995), and ''A World at Twilight: A Portrait of East European Jewry on the Eve of the Holocaust'' (1971). He graduated in 1936 from City College, where he earned a master of arts degree in 1938. Before joining the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1946, he did postgraduate work at Columbia University and lectured at Hunter College and the New School for Social Research in New York. Hindus once wrote "My conviction is that the most important life is that of the mind, and if this does not transpire through all the writer's work, then indeed he has written in vain."

 

 

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(03/17/2015) The Murder of Harriet Krohn: An Inspector Sejer Mystery by Karin Fossum. Boston/New York. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Translated from the Norwegian by James Anderson. 242 pages. August 2009.. hardcover. Jacket design by Michaela Sullivan. 9780544273399

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

9780544273399   Available for the first time in English, the seventh entry in the beloved Inspector Sejer series from Norway’s Queen of Crime, Karin Fossum. On a wet, gray night in early November, Charlo Torp, a former gambler who’s only recently kicked the habit, makes his way through the slush to Harriet Krohn’s apartment, flowers in hand. Certain that paying off his debt is the only path to starting a new life and winning his daughter’s forgiveness, Charlo plans to rob the wealthy old woman’s antique silver collection. What he doesn’t expect is for her to put up a fight. The following morning Harriet is found dead, her antique silver missing, and the only clue Inspector Sejer and his team find in the apartment is an abandoned bouquet. Charlo should feel relieved, but he’s heard of Sejer’s amazing record — the detective has solved every case he’s ever been assigned to. Told through the eyes of a killer, The Murder of Harriet Krohn poses the question: how far would you go to turn your life around, and could you live with yourself afterward?

 

 Karin Fossum is the author of the internationally successful Inspector Konrad Sejer crime series. Her recent honors include a Gumshoe Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for mystery/thriller. She lives in a small town in southeastern Norway.

 

 

 

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(03/16/2015) An Anthology of German Poetry from Hölderlin to Rilke in English Translations with German Originals by Angel Flores (editor). Garden City. 1960. Anchor/Doubleday. A Doubleday Anchor Original. 458 pages.. A197. paperback. Cover and typography by Edward Gorey.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Here, in new translations done especially for this volume, are major and representative works of fourteen leading German lyric poets of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Included in this volume are: Friedrich Hölderlin, Novalis, Clemens Brentano, Joseph von Eichendorff, August Graf von Platen, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Heinrich Heine, Nikolaus Lenau, Eduard Mörike, Stefan George, Christian Morgenstern, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Georg Traki, and Rainer Maria Rilke. The translations, each an independent work in its own right, have been done by such well-known writers as Vernon Watkins, Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Constantine Fitzgibbon, Hugh McDiarmid, Francis Golffing, Peter Viereck, Michael Hamburger, Edwin Morgan, and Herman Salinger. Many of the poems are here translated into English for the first time. The original German text is given immediately below each translation. There are biographical notes on each poet, together with bibliographies giving suggestions for further reading.

 

Angel Flores (1900-1992) was a Puerto Rican author. He received an AB from New York University and a PhD from Cornell University. He passed away in 1992 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

 

 

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(03/15/2015) Why I Have Not Written Any Of My Books by Marcel Benabou. Lincoln. 1996. University Of Nebraska Press. Translated from the French by David Kornacker. 111 pages. hardcover. 0803212399

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

0803212399   Marcel Benabou is quick to acknowledge that his own difficulty in writing has had plenty of company. But the frustrations and pleasures can still be felt privately. Words stick and syntax is stubborn, meaning slips and synonyms cluster. A blank page taunts and a full one accuses. Benabou knows the heroic joy of depriving critics of victims, the kindness of sparing publishers decisions, and the public charity of leaving more room in bookstore displays. At once the budding of an author and the withering of the authoritative, Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books polishes the varnish of self-conscious writing until it peels away. It provides both a respectful litany of writers' fears and a dismissal of the alibis offered to excuse them.

 

 Marcel Bénabou is a scholar of Roman history, a novelist, and, since 1970, the Definitively Provisional Secretary of the Oulipo. His first and latest books are Résistance africaine à la romanisation (1976) and Ecrire sur Tamara (2002). Three of his novels have been published in English by the University of Nebraska Press: Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books (1996), Dump This Book While You Still Can! (2001), and, winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Jacob, Menahem, and Mimoun: A Family Epic (1998).

 

 

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(03/13/2015) The Spook Who Sat By The Door by Sam Greenlee. London. 1969. Allison & Busby. hardcover. 182 pages. 0850310032.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   The CIA needs a Negro: there have been accusations of racial discrimination. So black Dan Freeman begins his lone career in an all-white world. Dan Freeman — tame, conspicuous, harmless. But behind this mask he coolly develops his subversive expertise in judo, guns, women, strategy.  Moving as easily among Washington’s power-hungry politicians as among the threatening street gangs of Chicago’s ghetto, Freeman plays the heroes of one world against the victims of the other. The top men in the CIA, hypocritical social workers, brainwashed policemen, a middle-class girlfriend, a beautiful whore, tough young junkies all have their place in Freeman’s lethally calculated program. He uses and manipulates all the opportunities and people around him. He is a man with a foot in both camps and a finger squeezing slowly on the trigger. There is no time for sentimentality. THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR is a book that had to be written. It describes an America that has gone beyond the stage of civil rights demonstrations and spontaneous riots: an America where the only hope for the black man is in deadly efficient guerrilla warfare. Sam Greenlee has written a novel about a revolution that may happen tomorrow.ABOUT THE AUTHOR - My name is Sam Greenlee. I am a black American and I write; not necessarily in that order of importance. I was born of a refugee family in Chicago, 13 July 1930, a second generation immigrant from the deep South. My father was a chauffeur, my mother a singer and dancer in the chorus line of the Regal Theater on Forty-seventh and South Parkway on the south side of Chicago. I received a non-education in Chicago ghetto non-schools and played catchup at three universities: Wisconsin, Chicago and Thessalonikki. I served for two years as an Infantry Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, in the 31st Infantry ‘Dixie’ Division. I was a professional propagandist in the foreign service of the United States Information Service. I served in Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia and Greece, and was given the Meritorius Service Award for activities during the 1958 Kassem revolution in Baghdad. I have recently returned from four years of writing in Greece. I am employed, with fat salary and fancy title, by an otherwise white civil rights organization in Chicago. My job is to sit by the door.

 

Greenlee Sam   Samuel Eldred Greenlee, Jr. (July 13, 1930 – May 19, 2014) was an African-American writer, best known for his controversial novel The Spook Who Sat by the Door, which was first published in London by Allison & Busby in March 1969 (having been rejected by dozens of mainstream publishers), and went on to be chosen as The Sunday Times Book of the Year. The novel was subsequently made into the 1973 movie of the same name, directed by Ivan Dixon and co-produced and written by Greenlee, that is now considered a "cult classic". Born in Chicago, Greenlee attended the University of Wisconsin (BS, political science, 1952) and the University of Chicago (1954-7). He was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity (Beta Omicron 1950). He served in the military (1952-4), earning the rank of first lieutenant, and subsequently worked for the United States Information Agency, serving in Iraq (in 1958 he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for bravery during the Baghdad revolution), Pakistan, Indonesia, and Greece between 1957 and 1965. Leaving the United States foreign service after eight years, he stayed on in Greece. He undertook further study (1963-4) at the University of Thessaloniki, and lived for three years on the island of Mykonos, where he began to write his first novel. That was eventually published in 1969 as The Spook Who Sat by the Door, the story of a black man who is recruited as a CIA agent and having mastered the skills of a spy then uses them to lead a black guerrilla movement in the US. Greenlee co-wrote (with Mel Clay) the screenplay for the 1973 film The Spook Who Sat by the Door, which he also co-produced with director Ivan Dixon and which is considered "one of the more memorable and impassioned films that came out around the beginning of the notoriously polarizing blaxploitation era." In 2011, an independent documentary entitled Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat by the Door was filmed by Christine Acham and Clifford Ward, about the making and reception of the Spook film,  in which Greenlee spoke out about the suppression of the film soon after its release. In a chance meeting with Aubrey Lewis (1935–2001), one of the first Black FBI agents to have been recruited in 1962 by the FBI, Greenlee was told that The Spook Who Sat by the Door was required reading at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Other works by Greenlee include Baghdad Blues, a 1976 novel based on his experiences traveling in Iraq in the 1950s and witnessing the 1958 Iraqi revolution, Blues for an African Princess, a 1971 collection of poems, and Ammunition (poetry, 1975). In 1990 Greenlee won the Illinois poet laureate award. He also wrote short stories, plays (although he found no producer for any of them), and the screenplay for a film short called Lisa Trotter (2010), a story adapted from Aristophanes' Lysistrata. On May 19, 2014, Greenlee died in Chicago at the age of 83. On June 6, 2014, Chicago's DuSable Museum of African American History sponsored an evening of celebration in his honor, attended by his daughter Natiki Montano.

 

 

 

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(03/12/2015) The Disappearance Of The Outside by Andrei Codrescu. Reading. 1990. 216 pages. hardcover. 0201121948. Jacket design by Gary Koepke. keywords: Literature Romania Essays Literary Criticism America.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   When an excerpt from this book first appeared, The Nation called it ‘a remarkable essay the sort of social-cultural-political analysis the mind longs for when it’s been fed for months on Wonder Bread while roaring for raw meat.’ This analysis could only have come from Andrei Codrescu: born in Stalinist Romania, exploring the world during the turbulent 1960s, and now an American poet, essayist, and commentator. In the late twentieth century, he writes, people fear the Outside - that which holds everything beyond our control and current understanding. We yearn to escape into the familiar, not into the unknown. Minds are no longer open to mystery. The rulers of the Eastern bloc tried to close off the Outside with barbed wire and censorship, driving away creative minds. An exile himself, Codrescu looks at Czeslaw Milosz, whose literary Lithuania has become more famous than the region itself; Vàclav Havel, recently a prisoner of the Czechoslovak state and now its leader; Milan Kundera, who sought a free press and now refuses all interviews; and many other authors who fled and fought oppression. Now popular revolutions are bringing East and West together. Codrescu was once so unwelcome in Romania that his name could not appear in crossword puzzles; in December 1989, he relates, he returned and was invited to go on national television. Yet here in the West, Codrescu points out, the Outside is blocked by billboards, drowned out by commercials. There is free expression, but can we really think about what anybody says? What will flow eastward through the cracks in the Iron Curtain — freedom of thought or ‘freedom to shop’? Part memoir of crossing East and West, part critique of our current world literature, and part jeremiad against how we ignore imagination as a force in our lives, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE OUTSIDE is an extraordinary piece of writing that holds challenges for years ahead.

 

Codrescu Andrei  Andrei Codrescu is a Romanian-born American poet, novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and commentator for National Public Radio. He was Mac Curdy Distinguished Professor of English at Louisiana State University from 1984 until his retirement in 2009. Born as Andrei Perlmutter on December 20, 1946 in Sibiu, Romania, he published his first poems in Romanian under the pen name Andrei Steiu. In 1965 he left the country to escape from the communist regime. After some time in Italy, he emigrated to the United States in 1966, and settled in Detroit where he became a regular at John Sinclair’s Artists and Writers’ Workshop. A year later he moved to New York where he became part of the literary scene on the Lower East Side. There he met Allen Ginsberg, Ted Berrigan, and Anne Waldman, and published his first poems in English. In 1970, his poetry book, License to Carry a Gun, won the ‘Big Table Award’. He moved to San Francisco in 1970, and lived on the West Coast for seven years, four of those in Monte Rio, a Sonoma County town on the Russian River. He also lived in Baltimore (where he taught at Johns Hopkins University), New Orleans and Baton Rouge, publishing a book every year, and actively participating in literary life by writing poetry, stories, essays and reviews for many publications, including The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Harper's, and the Paris Review. He had regular columns in The Baltimore Sun, the City Paper, Architecture, Funny Times, Gambit Weekly, and Neon. He has been a regular commentator on National Public Radio’s news program, All Things Considered, since 1983. He won the 1995 Peabody Award for the film Road Scholar, an American road saga that he wrote and starred in, and is a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize. He has been called ‘one of our most magical writers’ by The New York Times. In 1989, Codrescu's coverage of the Romanian Revolution of 1989 for National Public Radio and ABC News’ Nightline, was critically acclaimed, and his renewed interest in Romanian language and literature led to new work written in Romanian, including ‘Miracle and Catastrophe’, a book-length interview conducted by the theologian Robert Lazu, and ‘The Forgiven Submarine’, an epic poem written in collaboration with poet Ruxandra Cesereanu, which won the 2008 Romania Radio Cultural award. His books were translated into Romanian by Ioana Avadani, Ioana Ieronim, Carmen Firan, Rodica Grigore, and Lacrimioara Stoie. In 2005 he was awarded the prestigious international Ovidius Prize (also known as the Ovid Prize), previous winners of which include Mario Vargas Llosa, Amos Oz, and Orhan Pamuk. In 1981, Codrescu became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He is the editor and founder of the online journal Exquisite Corpse, a journal of ‘books and ideas’. He reigned as King of the Krewe du Vieux for the 2002 New Orleans Mardi Gras season. He has two children, Lucian and Tristan, from his marriage to Alice Henderson, and is currently married to Laura Cole.

 

 

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(03/09/2015) Songs From the Gallows/Galgenlieder by Christian Morgenstern. New Haven. 1993. Yale University Press. Translated from the German by Walter Arndt. 137 pages. hardcover. Jacket illustration Luft-Leone Design. 0300052782

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Christina Morgenstern (1871-1914) was a German poet, theosophist, and translator whose nonsense poems have been among the best-known and best-loved works in Germany throughout this century. Often compared to the drolleries of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, Morgenstern’s poems are whimsical yet haunting, a rare blend of humor and odd metaphysical intimations. Morgenstern wrote the first of his Galgenlieder after he and some friends had returned from a carefree outing past Gallows Hill near Potsdam and formed a ‘fraternal order of the gallows.’ His collection, published in Germany between 1905 and 1916, eventually comprised 286 poems. This new edition is a bilingual selection of some 90 poems from the original work. The reader is introduced to inventions like the clock that moves slowly or quickly as its sympathy for the clock watcher dictates; the luncheon newspaper that, when read, also satisfies one’s hunger; the mail that is sent from a vacation retreat on the antlers or tails of bucks. To translate Morgenstern is a daunting task, and Walter Arndt has succeeded brilliantly, following the poet’s verbal acrobatics, his phonetic, semantic, and syntactic play with words and clauses, and, where possible, his trick of stripping discourse of conventions and pretensions by a bizarre literal interpretation of conventional phrases and metaphors. His translation of Morgenstern’s poems of nonsense, or ‘supersense,’ will be treasured by scholars of the German lyric and by children of all ages.

 

Morgenstern Christian  Christian Otto Josef Wolfgang Morgenstern (6 May 1871 – 31 March 1914) was a German author and poet from Munich. Morgenstern married Margareta Gosebruch von Liechtenstern on 7 March 1910. He worked for a while as a journalist in Berlin, but spent much of his life traveling through Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, primarily in a vain attempt to recover his health. His travels, though they failed to restore him to health, allowed him to meet many of the foremost literary and philosophical figures of his time in central Europe. Morgenstern's poetry, much of which was inspired by English literary nonsense, is immensely popular, even though he enjoyed very little success during his lifetime. He made fun of scholasticism, e.g. literary criticism in "Drei Hasen", grammar in "Der Werwolf", narrow-mindedness in "Der Gaul", and symbolism in "Der Wasseresel". In “Scholastikerprobleme" he discussed how many angels could sit on a needle. Embedded in his humorous poetry is a subtle metaphysical streak. Gerolf Steiner's mock-scientific book about the fictitious animal order Rhinogradentia (1961), inspired by Morgenstern's nonsense poem Das Nasobēm, is testament to his enduring popularity. Morgenstern was a member of the General Anthroposophical Society. Dr. Rudolf Steiner called him 'a true representative of Anthroposophy'. Morgenstern died in 1914 of tuberculosis, which he had contracted from his mother, who died in 1881. Walter Arndt, Sherman Fairchild Professor in the Humanities Emeritus at Dartmouth College, is also a distinguished and prize-winning translator of Pushkin, Rilke, Goethe, Wilhelm Busch, and other poets.

 

 

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(03/07/2015) The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader by Ida B. Wells. New York. 2014. Penguin Books. Edited and with an Introduction by Mia Bay. General Editor: Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 518 pages. paperback. Cover photograph: Ida B. Wells, in a photograph by Mary Garrity, c.1893. 9780143106821

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   ‘The way to right wrongs is to turn to the light of truth upon them.’ Seventy-one years before Rosa Parks was arrested for her courageous act of resistance, police dragged a young black journalist named Ida B. Wells off a train for refusing to give up her seat. That experience shaped Wells’s career as a journalist and spurred her to become a fierce civil rights advocate. When hate crimes touched her life personally, she began what was to become her life’s work: an anti-lynching crusade that captured attention across the United States and abroad. A pioneer in the civil rights movement, Wells exposed the horrors of lynching and brought to light the myths used to justify it. Covering the scope of Wells’s remarkable career, The Light of Truth contains her early writings, her anti-lynching exposés, articles from her travels abroad, and her later journalism. ‘Brave woman! You have done your people and mine a service which can neither be weighed nor measured.’ - Frederick Douglass.

 

Wells Ida B  Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931) was an African-American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, and an early leader in the civil rights movement. She documented lynching in the United States, showing that it was often used as a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites, rather than being based in criminal acts by blacks, as was usually claimed by white mobs. She was active in women's rights and the women's suffrage movement, establishing several notable women's organizations. Wells was a skilled and persuasive rhetorician, and traveled internationally on lecture tours.

 

 

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(03/06/2015) The Skalds: A Selection of Their Poems with an introduction and notes by Lee Hollander (translator). Ann Arbor. 1968. University of Michigan Press. 216 pages.  paperback. Cover design by Quentin Fiore.  Translated from the Icelandic by Lee Hollander.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   From Old Norse antiquity has come down to us the large body of the skalds—or court poets of Norway and Iceland—composed to feat of arms or an act of generosity by their lords. The skalds were usually witty and ingenious young gentlemen of noble birth, who often composed their verses extemporaneously. Many such verses were preserved in the great sagas. Lee M. Hollander has here translated many of these colorful but complicated poems and has provided an excellent understanding of the vivid personalities, important historical events, religious mythology, and folklore of the period. Chapters are devoted to the life and works of more than a dozen of the greatest skalds. This book will be of great interest to students of comparative literature as well as to the general reader.

 

Lee M. Hollander, professor of Germanic languages at the University of Texas, is the author of a Bibliography of Skaldic Studies and has edited the Poetic Edda and Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla.

 

 

 

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(03/05/2015) Night Journey by Maria Negroni. Princeton. 2002. Princeton University Press. Translated from the Spanish by Anne Twitty. Lockert Library of Poetry in Translation - Richard Howard, Series Editor.. 144 pages... paperback.. 069109098x

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   One of South America’s most celebrated contemporary poets takes us on a fantastic voyage to mysterious lands and seas, into the psyche, and to the heart of the poem itself. Night Journey is the English-language debut of the work that won María Negroni an Argentine National Book Award. It is a book of dreams—dreams she renders with surreal beauty that recalls the work of her compatriot Alejandra Pizarnik, with the penetrating subtlety of Borges and Calvino. In sixty-two tightly woven prose poems, Negroni deftly infuses haunting imagery with an ironic, personal spirituality. Effortlessly she navigates the nameless subject to the slopes of the Himalayas, to a bar in Buenos Aires, through war, from icy Scandinavian landscapes to the tropics, across seas, toward a cemetery in the wake of Napoleon’s hearse, by train, by taxis headed in unrequested directions, past mirrors and birds, between life and death. Night Journey reflects a mastery of a traditional form while brilliantly expressing a modern condition: the multicultural, multifaceted individual, ever in motion. Displacement abounds: a ‘medieval tabard’ where a pelvis should be, a ‘lipless grin,’ a ‘beach severed from the ocean.’ In one poem ‘nomadic cities’ whisk past. In another, smiling cockroaches loom in a visiting mother’s eyes. Anne Twitty, whose elegant translations are accompanied by the Spanish originals, remarks in her preface that the book’s ‘indomitable literary intelligence’ subdues an unspoken terror—helplessness. Yet, as observed by the angel Gabriel, the consoling voice of wisdom, only by accepting the journey for what it is can one discover its ‘hidden splendor,’ the ‘invisible center of the poem.’ As readers of this magnificent work will discover, this is a journey that, because its every fleeting image conjures a thousand words of fertile silence, can be savored again and again.

 

Negroni Maria  María Negroni was born October 9, 1951 in Rosario, Argentina. She has published eleven books of poetry, three collections of essays, and two novels, as well as works in translation from French and English. Her work has appeared internationally in literary journals, including Diario de Poesía, Página 12, The Paris Review, Circumference, and Bomb, among others. She has been awarded two Argentine National Book Awards, for her collection of essays Ciudad Gótica (1996) and her poetry collection Viaje de la noche (1997). Her book of poems Islandia, in Anne Twitty’s translation, received a PEN Translation Award in 2001. She has been a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Fundación Octavio Paz, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and others. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. Winner of the following awards - International Prize for Essay Writing from Siglo XXI, 2002 PEN Award for best book of poetry in translation, for Islandia, 2000-2001 Octavio Paz Fellowship for Poetry, 1997 Argentine National Book Award, for El viaje de la noche, 1994 Guggenheim Fellowships.

 

 

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(03/04/2015) Testimony by Charles Reznikoff. Boston. 2015. David Godine/black sparrow. Introduction by Eliot Weinberger. 6 × 9. 480 pages. December 2014.. paperback. 9781567925319

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

9781567925319   A major work by an essential American poet, published in full for the first time. Available again for the first time since 1978—and complete in one volume for the first time ever— Charles Reznikoff ’s Testimony is a lost masterpiece, a legendary book that stands alongside Louis Zukofsky’s ‘A’ and William Carlos Williams’s Paterson as a milestone of modern American poetry. Taking as its raw material the voices of witnesses, victims, and perpetrators discovered by the author in criminal court transcripts, Reznikoff ’s book sets forth a stark panorama of late19th- and early 20th-century America—the underside of the Gilded Age, beset by racism and casual violence, poverty and disease—in a radically stripped-down language of almost unbearable intensity. This edition also includes Reznikoff ’s prose studies for the poem, unavailable to readers since the 1930s, and a new introduction by essayist Eliot Weinberger. ‘[Testimony] is perhaps Reznikoff’s most important achievement as a poet. A quietly astonishing work. .. at once a kaleidoscope vision of American life and the ultimate test of Reznikoff ’s poetic principles.. .’ – Paul Auster. ‘Reznikoff ’s astonishingly engaging and quietly powerful work has been steadily gaining a passionate following.. .. Testimony is a chronicle of industrial accidents, domestic violence, racism. It tells the story of America’s forgotten, those who suffer without redress, without name, without hope; yet the soul of these States is found in books like this; the acknowledgment of these peripheral stories turns a waste land into holy ground.’ – Charles Bernstein.

 

  Charles Reznikoff was born in Brooklyn in 1894. He graduated from law school and was admitted to the bar, but never practiced, instead pursuing his writing. Between 1918 and 1961 he published twenty-three books of poetry and prose, gaining a wider readership in 1962, when New Directions published By the Waters of Manhattan: Selected Verse; a second selection, By the Well of Living and Seeing, was published by Black Sparrow in 1974, followed by the Complete Poems and Holocaust. Reznikoff died in 1975, at the age of eighty-one. Eliot Weinberger is an acclaimed essayist, translator, and editor. His essays are collected in Karmic Traces, An Elemental Thing, Oranges & Peanuts for Sale, Outside Stories, Works On Paper, and What Happened Here: Bush Chronicles (all available from New Directions). His writing appears frequently in The New York Review of Books and The London Review of Books.

 

 

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(02/28/2015) Flying Home & Other Stories by Ralph Ellison. New York. 1996. Random House. hardcover. 179 pages. December 1996.  Jacket design: Andy Carpenter. Edited & With An Introduction by John F. Callahan. keywords: Literature America Black African American. 0679457046.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Written between 1937 and 1954 and collected here for the first time, FLYING HOME AND OTHER STORIES represents the best of INVISIBLE MAN author Ralph Ellison’s short fiction. There are thirteen pieces, six of which were never published in Ellison’s lifetime. Ellison draws on his early experiences – his father’s death when he was three; hoboing his way on a freight train to Tuskegee Institute to follow his early dreams of becoming a musician - to create stories that, according to The Washington Post, ‘approach the simple elegance of Chekhov.’ FLYING HOME fulfills Ralph Ellison’s desire to publish a short-story collection, but it wasn’t until his literary executor John F. Callahan, discovered a folder marked ‘Early Stories’ in Ellison’s apartment after the writer’s death that this collection began to take shape. According to Callahan, ‘Discovery of the half dozen early stories made it possible to put together a volume of Ellison’s best published and unpublished freestanding fiction. These stories are early explorations of his lifelong fascination with the complex fate and beautiful absurdity of American identity. In them, a young writer finds his voice and sets about mastering his craft.’

 

Ellison Ralph  RALPH ELLISON was born in Oklahoma City in 1914. He is the author of INVISIBLE MAN (1952), which won the National Book Award and became one of the most important and influential postwar American novels. He published two volumes of nonfiction, SHADOW AND ACT (1964) and GOING TO THE TERRITORY (1986), which, together with unpublished speeches and writings, were brought together as THE COLLECTED ESSAYS OF RALPH ELLISON IN 1995. For more than forty years before his death in 1994, Ralph Ellison lived with his wife, Fanny McConnell, on Riverside Drive in Harlem in New York City.

 

 

Callahan John E  JOHN F CALLAHAN was born in Meriden, Connecticut. He is Morgan S. Odell Professor of Humanities at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. His books include THE ILLUSIONS OF A NATION and IN THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN GRAIN. He is the editor of the Modern Library edition of THE COLLECTED ESSAYS OF RALPH ELLISON and is literary executor of Ralph Ellison’s estate.

 

 

 

 

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(02/26/2015) The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed. New York. 2008. Norton. hardcover. 798 pages.  Jacket design by Debra Morton Hoyt.  keywords: African American History Sally Hemings Race America. 9780393064773.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   In the mid-1700s the English captain of a trading ship that made runs between England and the Virginia colony fathered a child by an enslaved woman living near Williamsburg. The woman, whose name is unknown and who is believed to have been born in Africa, was owned by the Eppeses, a prominent Virginia family. The captain, whose surname was Hemings, and the woman had a daughter. They named her Elizabeth. So begins this epic work-named a best book of the year by the Washington Post, Time, the Los Angeles Times, Amazon.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a notable book by the New York Times-Annette Gordon-Reed's ‘riveting history’ of the Hemings family, whose story comes to vivid life in this brilliantly researched and deeply moving work. Gordon-Reed, author of the highly acclaimed historiography THOMAS JEFFERSON AND SALLY HEMINGS: AN AMERICAN CONTROVERSY, unearths startling new information about the Hemingses, Jefferson, and his white family. Although the book presents the most detailed and richly drawn portrait ever written of Sarah Hemings, better known by her nickname Sally, who bore seven children by Jefferson over the course of their thirty-eight-year liaison, The Hemingses of Monticello tells more than the story of her life with Jefferson and their children. The Hemingses as a whole take their rightful place in the narrative of the family's extraordinary engagement with one of history's most important figures. Not only do we meet Elizabeth Hemings-the family matriarch and mother to twelve children, six by John Wayles, a poor English immigrant who rose to great wealth in the Virginia colony-but we follow the Hemings family as they become the property of Jefferson through his marriage to Martha Wayles. The Hemings-Wayles children, siblings to Martha, played pivotal roles in the life at Jefferson's estate. We follow the Hemingses to Paris, where James Hemings trained as a chef in one of the most prestigious kitchens in France and where Sally arrived as a fourteen-year-old chaperone for Jefferson's daughter Polly; to Philadelphia, where James Hemings acted as the major domo to the newly appointed secretary of state; to Charlottesville, where Mary Hemings lived with her partner, a prosperous white merchant who left her and their children a home and property; to Richmond, where Robert Hemings engineered a plan for his freedom; and finally to Monticello, that iconic home on the mountain, from where most of Jefferson's slaves, many of them Hemings family members, were sold at auction six months after his death in 1826. As THE HEMINGSES OF MONTICELLO makes vividly clear, Monticello can no longer be known only as the home of a remarkable American leader, the author of the Declaration of Independence; nor can the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president have been expunged from history until very recently, be left out of the telling of America's story. With its empathetic and insightful consideration of human beings acting in almost unimaginably difficult and complicated family circumstances, THE HEMINGSES OF MONTICELLO is history as great literature. It is a remarkable achievement.

 

 ANNETTE GORDON-REED is a professor of law at New York Law School and a professor of history at Rutgers University. She is the author of THOMAS JEFFERSON AND SALLY HEMINGS: AN AMERICAN CONTROVERSY.

 

 

 

 

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(02/25/2015) ‘Face Zion Forward’: First Writers of the Black Atlantic, 1785-1798 by Joanna Brooks and John Saillant (editors). Boston. 2002. Northeastern University Press. paperback. 242 pages. Cover illustration by Leslie Evans.  Introduction by Joanna Brooks and John Saillant. keywords: Literature Black Atlantic 18th Century African American. 1555535399.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   At the close of the Revolutionary War, in 1783, more than three thousand black Loyalists, many liberated from slavery by enlisting in the British army, left New York for Nova Scotia in search of land and freedom. Almost half of the emigrants settled an independent black community at Birchtown, Nova Scotia, where, in spite of extraordinarily harsh conditions, they established their own churches and schools and cultivated a shared sense of themselves as a chosen people. A majority of the population emigrated once again in 1791, this time setting sail for Sierra Leone to fulfill what they perceived to be their prophetic destiny. This circuit of gathering, exodus, and diaspora was grounded in a unique black Atlantic theology focused on redemption and Zion that was conceptualized and shaped by the charismatic black evangelists of diverse Protestant faiths who converged in the Nova Scotia settlements. ‘‘Face Zion Forward’ now brings together the remarkable writings of these early authors of the black Atlantic. This collection of memoirs, sermons, and speeches, many of which are based on the Birchtown experience, documents how John Marrant, David George, Boston King, and Prince Hall envisioned the role of Africa and African American communities in black liberation. ‘Face Zion Forward’ provides an informed reconstruction of the major ideological and theological conversations that occurred among North American blacks after the American Revolution and illustrates the disparate and complex underpinnings of the modern black Atlantic. In addition, the work presents invaluable insights into African American literary traditions and the development of Ethiopianist and black nationalist discourses.

 

JOANNA BROOKS is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

Brooks Joanna and Saillant John

 

JOHN SAILLANT is Associate Professor of English and History at Western Michigan University.

 

RICHARD YARBOROUGH, editor of the Northeastern Library of Black Literature, is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles.

 

 

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(02/24/2015) The Gospel of Barbecue: Poems by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers. Kent. 2000. Kent State University Press. paperback. 76 pages.  Cover art: ‘KKK Boutique I’ by Camille Billops.  keywords: Poetry African American Literature America Women. 0873386736.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Winner of the 1999 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize - LUCILLE CLIFTON, Judge. ‘Honoree Jeffers is an exciting and original new poet, and THE GOSPEL OF BARBECUE is her aptly titled debut work. These poems are sweet and sassy, hot and biting, flavored in an exciting blend of precise language and sharp and surprising imagery that delights. They leave a taste in your mouth, these poems; they are true to themselves and to the world. They are gospel, indeed, and this young poet will be heard more and more spreading the true word. Good news!’ – LUCILLE CLIFTON. ‘Honi Jeffers is a storyteller in the Hurston tradition, no small feat in the parlance of voicings. The world she creates is more than speech and brighter than utterance alone. There is a moral center, a fluency of nuance, and a healthy respect for what has been lost, and what shall be gained. Her testimony is alive with culinary vocables: meditative, engaged. fearless and fearsome, with its own elegance, and steeled in an analysis of kin and kinship.’ - MICHAEL S. HARPER. ‘THE GOSPEL OF BARBECUE is a fine fire, a brilliance moving with swaying choir robes in a harmony of pain lived to sweetness. In poems that touch the most tender and open parts of the ancestral stream of what it is to be African and woman and southern in this America, Honoree Jeffers delivers song, sermon, and supplication. This is the opening solo of a voice in the widest range, a voice that will light and lead the way. Trajectories, victories are in this spirit moving in chords charted by the losses and loves of our fathers and our mothers - of all the poets, those who sing to live.’ – AFAA M. WEAVER.

 

  HONOREE FANONNE JEFFERS lives in Talladega, Alabama. Her poetry has been published in the anthologies AT OUR CORE: WOMEN WRITING ABOUT POWER; DARK EROS; and IDENTITY LESSONS. She has also published poems in Crab Orchard Review; African American Review; Callaloo; Poet Lore; Brilliant Corners; and The Massachusetts Review.

 

 

 

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(02/23/2015) Racism 101 by Nikki Giovanni. New York. 1994. Morrow. hardcover. 203 pages.  Jacket design by Debra Morton Hoyt. Front jacket photograph by Chris Callis Studio.  keywords: Black Racism Women African American. 0688043321.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   In RACISM 101, Nikki Giovanni indicts higher education for the inequities it perpetuates, contemplates the legacy of the l960s, provides a survival guide for black students on predominantly white campuses (complete with razor-sharp comebacks to the dumb questions constantly asked of black students) and excoriates Spike Lee while offering her own ideas for a film about Malcolm X. And that is just for starters. She also writes about W. E. B. Du Bois, gardening, Toni Morrison, Star Trek, affirmative action, space exploration, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the role of griots, and the rape and neglect of urban schools. But to reduce Nikki Giovanni’s essays to their subjects is to miss altogether their significance. As Virginia C. Fowler writes in her Foreword, ‘These pieces are artistic expression of a particular way of looking at the world, featuring a performing voice capable of dizzying displays of virtuosity.’ Profoundly personal and blisteringly political angry and funny, lyrical and blunt, RACISM 101 will add an important chapter to the debate on American national values.

 

  Nikki Giovanni, one of America’s most widely read living poets, has earned a reputation for being outspoken and controversial - mostly because she always speaks her mind. She entered the literary world at the height of the Black Arts Movement and quickly achieved not simple fame but stardom. A recording of her poems was one of the best-selling albums in the country; all but one of her nearly twenty books are still in print with several having sold more than a hundred thousand copies. Named woman of the year by three different magazines, including Ebony, and recipient of a host of honorary doctorates and awards, Nikki Giovanni has read from her work and lectured at colleges around the country. Her books include BLACK FEELING, BLACK TALK/BLACK JUDGEMENT; MY HOUSE; THE WOMEN AND THE MEN; COTTON CANDY ON A RAINY DAY; THOSE WHO RIDE THE NIGHT WINDS; and SACRED COWS.  AND OTHER EDIBLES. Nikki Giovanni is a professor of English at Virginia Polytechnic.

 

 

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(02/22/2015) The Port Chicago Mutiny: The Story Of The Largest Mass Mutiny Trial In U. S. Naval History by Robert L. Allen. New York. 1989. Warner Books. hardcover. 192 pages. March 1989. keywords: History Black America African American Military World War II Racism. 0446710040.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   In the fall of 1944, a young lawyer working for the NAACP went to California to defend 50 black seamen accused of mutiny. The attorney, later to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, was Thurgood Marshall. The men were black sailors - and heroes. They were the survivors of the worst domestic disaster of the war: the explosion at Port Chicago, California, that claimed 320 lives. Now the Navy branded these men as cowards and criminals. Was there really a mutiny at Port Chicago? What caused the terrifying explosions? Was racial prejudice behind the indictments? Who was ultimately responsible for the disaster.  and the shocking trial? This provocative account provides stunning answers to these questions and rewrites a vital chapter in American history with the pen of truth. In the summer of 1944, thousands of tons of ammunition were loaded onto Liberty ships at a tiny California port near San Francisco. All the seamen who actually handled the ammunition were black. All the officers were white. The seamen had been given technical training to serve at sea. None were instructed in the handling of ammunition. All were told the bombs couldn’t explode because they had been defused. But complaints about the dangerous conditions were made regularly to Navy higher-ups. The only response was a demand that increased tonnage be loaded in shorter and shorter times. One of the men who had complained was an intelligent, clean-cut black seaman from New Jersey named Joseph Small. He was a winch operator, a position for which he received no training and which required tremendous skill. He was off-duty and back at the barracks on the night of July 17, 1944. Two ships, the E.A. Bryan and the Quinalt Victory were being loaded by floodlight. Their cargo included 650-pound incendiary bombs/.  with the fuses already installed. It was particularly dangerous ‘hot cargo.’ Shortly after 10 p.m. an explosion blew Joseph Small out of bed, and the barracks collapsed around him. The small town of Port Chicago, a mile and a half from the docks, was nearly razed to the ground. The two ships and their docks simply vanished. The dead totaled 320, 202 of them black men. This single stunning disaster accounted for more than 15 percent of o black naval casualties during the war. A few weeks later, after denying the surviving black seamen the thirty-day leave granted to the white survivors, the Navy ordered them to return to work at a nearby port.  under the same unsafe conditions found at Port Chicago. Over two hundred black men refused to march to the docks. Fifty were singled out for court-martial.  on a charge of mutiny. Joseph Small was identified as their ringleader. If found guilty, they could be sentenced to death. And so began a trial called the Port Chicago Mutiny. Robert L. Allen’s stirring courtroom drama and portrayal of the disaster itself is based on actual trial documents, material recently declassified by the Navy, and interviews with key black seamen who have borne the injustice of the Port Chicago Mutiny for over forty years. Their own words, along with a colorful, intimate diary account written by Joseph Small, are moving testaments to the personal suffering of what Thurgood Marshall called ‘one of the worst frame-ups we have come across.’ The shame of Port Chicago aroused the passions of Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Mary Lindsay and the grave concerns of Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal and F.D.R. himself. It is a story told now to acknowledge the sacrifice of all those brave men who died at Port Chicago and to remove the stigma of disgrace from fifty brave, decent black who deserve — even at this late hour - the nation’s admiration and the restoration of their good names.

 

  ROBERT L. ALLEN, who holds a Ph.D. degree in sociology from the University of California, San Francisco, has both observed and actively participated in the civil rights and antiwar movements. For eleven years, he was an editor of The Black Scholar magazine. He also taught sociology and ethnic studies at San Jose State University and Mills College in Oakland and is the author of BLACK AWAKENING IN CAPITALIST AMERICA and RELUCTANT REFORMERS: RACISM AND AMERICAN SOCIAL REFORM MOVEMENTS.

 

 

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(02/21/2015) After The Garden by Doris Jean Austin. New York. 1987. New American Library. hardcover. 324 pages. July 1987.  Jacket illustration by Jacqueline Schuman. 1st Novel. keywords: Literature Black America Women African American. 0453005381.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   This brilliantly imagined, achingly alive novel about the pain and joy of a black woman’s life captures the textures and tensions, love and rage, of the black experience in America. The urban North is the setting of AFTER THE GARDEN: jersey City, New Jersey, where the beautiful but inwardly divided heroine, Elzina Tompkins, learns the lessons of life and love in 1940s and ‘50s. Elzina’s search for happiness and fulfillment is a journey on a tightrope stretched to the breaking point between two opposing poles. One is that of the woman who has raised her, her grandmother Rosalie, strong, proud, fiercely righteous, for whom any weakness is an unpardonable sin. The other is that of the exquisitely graceful, handsome, and free-spirited high school athlete, Jesse James, who becomes Elzina’s husband and great love. Elzina, loving her husband for the very qualities she has been taught to condemn, is a superbly complex, heartbreakingly real creation. Unforgettable too, is Jesse, who, wild as his namesake, cannot understand the core of resistance in Elzina that his charm and passion cannot melt. As Elzina and Jesse struggle to balance the strength of their love against the weight of their differences, their emotional fallout reaches an explosive intensity in their son, Charles. Finally only Elzina can heal the wounds of her family as she overcomes conflict, abandonment, heartbreak, and near-madness to emerge into stunning and triumphant womanhood. Probing relationships seared and ignited by love and sacrifice, joy and despair, this emotionally charged novel brings to life a cast of wonderful characters whose individuality and strength give them a special, tough beauty. Doris Jean Austin, prize-winning writer, tells us a fascinating story that vibrates with power and daring.

 

  DORIS JEAN AUSTIN was a former Colony fellow and in 1984 received the DeWitt Wallace/Reader’s Digest Award for Literary Excellence. Her articles have appeared in Essence magazine, and one of her notable short stories, ‘Rosalie Tompkins’, was featured in the recent Mentor anthology BLACK SOUTHERN VOICES. She was a member of the New Renaissance Writers Guild and a former member of the Harlem Writers Guild. Originally from Alabama, she lived and wrote in New York City.

 

 

 

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(02/20/2015) Three Days Before The Shooting by Ralph Ellison. New York. 2010. Modern Library. hardcover. 1101 pages.  Edited by John F. Callahan & Adam Bradley. keywords: Literature America African American. 9780375759536.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   At his death in 1994, Ralph Ellison left behind roughly two thousand pages of his unfinished second novel, which he had spent nearly four decades writing. Long awaited, it was to have been the work Ellison intended to follow his masterpiece, Invisible Man. Five years later, Random House published Juneteenth, drawn from the central narrative of Ellison's unfinished epic. Three Days Before the Shooting. gathers together in one volume, for the first time, all the parts of that planned opus, including three major sequences never before published. Set in the frame of a deathbed vigil, the story is a gripping multigenerational saga centered on the assassination of the controversial, race-baiting U.S. senator Adam Sunraider, who's being tended to by 'Daddy' Hickman, the elderly black jazz musician turned preacher who raised the orphan Sunraider as a light-skinned black in rural Georgia. Presented in their unexpurgated, provisional state, the narrative sequences form a deeply poetic, moving, and profoundly entertaining book, brimming with humor and tension, composed in Ellison's magical jazz-inspired prose style and marked by his incomparable ear for vernacular speech. Beyond its richly compelling narratives, Three Days Before the Shooting. is perhaps most notable for its extraordinary insight into the creative process of one of this country's greatest writers. In various stages of composition and revision, its typescripts and computer files testify to Ellison's achievement and struggle with his material from the mid-1950s until his death forty years later. Three Days Before the Shooting. is an essential, fascinating piece of Ralph Ellison's legacy, and its publication is to be welcomed as a major event for American arts and letters.

 

Ellison Ralph  RALPH ELLISON was born in Oklahoma City in 1914. He is the author of INVISIBLE MAN (1952), which won the National Book Award and became one of the most important and influential postwar American novels. He published two volumes of nonfiction, SHADOW AND ACT (1964) and GOING TO THE TERRITORY (1986), which, together with unpublished speeches and writings, were brought together as THE COLLECTED ESSAYS OF RALPH ELLISON IN 1995. For more than forty years before his death in 1994, Ralph Ellison lived with his wife, Fanny McConnell, on Riverside Drive in Harlem in New York City.

 

 

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(02/19/2015) Lyrics Of Sunshine & Shadow: The Tragic Courtship & Marriage Of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore by Eleanor Alexander. New York. 2002. New York University Press. hardcover. 243 pages.  ABOUT THE COVER: Paul Laurence Dunbar, C. 1900. Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society. Alice Moore Dunbar, C. 1900. Alice Dunbar-Nelson Papers, University of Delaware library, Newark Delaware.  keywords: Black History Biography Paul Laurence Dunbar Alice Ruth Moore America African American Literature Poetry. 0814706967.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   On February 10, 1906 Alice Ruth Moore, estranged wife of renowned early- twentieth-century poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, boarded a streetcar, settled comfortably into her seat, and opened her newspaper to learn of her husband’s death the day before. Paul Laurence Dunbar, son of former slaves, whom Frederick Douglass had dubbed ‘the most promising young colored man in America,’ was dead from tuberculosis at the age of 33. LYRICS OF SUNSHINE AND SHADOW traces the tempestuous romance of America’s most noted African American literary couple. Drawing on a variety of love letters, diaries, journals, and autobiographies, Eleanor Alexander vividly recounts Dunbar and Moore’s tumultuous affair, from a courtship conducted almost entirely through letters and an elopement brought on by Dunbar’s brutal drunken rape of Moore, through their passionate marriage and its eventual violent dissolution in 1902. Moore, once having left Dunbar, rejected his every entreaty to return to him, responding to his many letters only once, with a blunt, one-word telegram (‘No’). This is a remarkable story of tragic romance among African American elites struggling to define themselves and their relationships within the context of post-slavery America. As such, it provides a timely examination of the ways in which cultural ideology and politics shape and complicate conceptions of romantic love. ‘Tells a fascinating tale of two compelling figures whose lives were intriguing, at times harrowing, and in many ways tragic. At the same time, Alexander investigates a broader topic - the history of African American intimacy - yet to be explored in depth.  A riveting narrative.’ - MARTHA HODES, New York University.

 

ELEANOR ALEXANDER is Assistant Professor of History at Georgia Institute of Technology.

 

 

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(02/18/2015) Deep Sightings & Rescue Missions: Fiction,Essays,& Conversations by Toni Cade Bambara. New York. 1996. Pantheon Books. hardcover. 255 pages. November 1996.  Jacket photograph by Joyce Middler. Jacket design by Marjorie Anderson. Edited & With a Preface by Toni Morrison. 0679442502.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   On December 9, 1995, Toni Cade Bambara died at the age of fifty-six, a profound loss to American Culture. In its obituary the New York Times called her ‘a major contributor to the emerging genre of black women’s literature, along with the writers Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.’ The author of many acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, among them three pioneering and timeless volumes: GORILLA, MY LOVE and THE SEABIRDS ARE STILL ALIVE, both collections of stories, and THE SALT EATERS, a novel, Bambara had not published a new book in the fourteen years prior to her death. She developed during that time a keen interest in film - as a scriptwriter, filmmaker, critic, and teacher - and collaborated on several television documentaries, including The Bombing of Osage Avenue, about the police assault on the MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia, and on the W. E. B. Du Bois Film Project. Bambara also helped to launch the careers of many other black women filmmakers. DEEP SIGHTINGS AND RESCUE MISSIONS is a brilliant distillation of Bambara’s original sensibility and a confirmation of her status as one of America’s great post—World War II writers. Here is a rich selection of her writings, many of which have never before appeared in print: stories (‘Madame Bai and the Taking of Stone Mountain,’ ‘Ice,’ ‘Luther on Sweet Auburn’), essays (‘Language and the Writer,’ ‘The Education of a Storyteller.’), film criticism (‘School Daze’), and a revealing interview. DEEP SIGHTINGS AND RESCUE MISSIONS is an unexpected treasure not only to those who are already familiar with Bambara’s work, but to a new generation of readers who will recognize in her writing a strong precursor to much of contemporary American literature.

 

 TONI CADE BAMBARA is the author of two short-story collection, GORILLA, MY LOVE and THE SEABIRDS ARE STILL ALIVE, and a novel, THE SALT EATERS. She edited THE BLACK WOMAN and TALES AND SHORT STORIES FOR BLACK FOLKS. Bambara’s works have appeared in many periodicals and have been translated into several languages.

 

 

 

 

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(02/17/2015) Shadow And Act by Ralph Ellison. New York. 1964. Random House. hardcover. 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   SHADOW AND ACT is the first book in more than a decade by the author of INVISIBLE MAN. It contains the best and most provocative of Ralph Ellison’s essays written between 1945 - when The Antioch Review declined to publish his review of Myrdal’s AN AMERICAN DILEMMA - and 1964 - when ‘Hidden Name and Complex Fate’ was delivered as a lecture at the Library of Congress. ‘The pieces collected here,’ Mr. Ellison writes in his Introduction, ‘are concerned with three general themes: with literature and folklore, with Negro musical expression – especially jazz and the blues - and with the complex relationship between the Negro American subculture and the North American culture as a whole. They represent. in all their modesty, some of the necessary effort which a writer of my background must make in order to possess the meaning of his experience.  These essays are a witness of that which I have known and that which I have tried and am still trying to confront. The very least I can say about their value is that they performed the grateful function of making it unnecessary to clutter up my fiction with half-formed or outrageously wrong-headed ideas. At best they are an embodiment of a conscious attempt to confront, to peer into, the shadow of my past and to remind myself of the complex resources for imaginative creation which are my heritage.’.

 

  RALPH ELLISON was born in Oklahoma City in 1914. He is the author of INVISIBLE MAN (1952), which won the National Book Award and became one of the most important and influential postwar American novels. He published two volumes of nonfiction, SHADOW AND ACT (1964) and GOING TO THE TERRITORY (1986), which, together with unpublished speeches and writings, were brought together as THE COLLECTED ESSAYS OF RALPH ELLISON IN 1995. For more than forty years before his death in 1994, Ralph Ellison lived with his wife, Fanny McConnell, on Riverside Drive in Harlem in New York City.

 

 

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(02/16/2015) Les Blancs: The Collected Last Plays of Lorraine Hansberry by Lorraine Hansberry. New York. 1972. Random House. hardcover. 372 pages. June 1972.  Jacket design by Bill Allen.  keywords: African American Literature Drama Black Women. 039446480x.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   ‘A little more than a month before the assassination of Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry died; she was thirty-four. Somehow it seems like more than coincidence that the two should die within less than a month and a half of each other and scarcely nine months before the ‘deferred dream’ exploded in the streets of Watts. Each of them possessed an uncommon prescience They knew that a plague was about to be loosed upon the land.  ‘ So writes Julius Lester in the introduction to this collection of Lorraine Hansberry’s lost works. At the time of her death in 1965, Lorraine Hansberry’s reputation as one of America’s leading playwrights rested primarily on one play, A RAISIN IN THE SUN, a major work of our time. ‘Never before in the entire history of the American theater had so much of the truth of black people’s lives been seen on the stage,’ wrote James Baldwin concerning it. Until the off-Broadway production in 1969 of TO BE YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK, Miss Hansberry had become a part of theatrical history, which is to say, almost forgotten, It was assumed that nothing in her work was relevant to the sixties. But that assumption could only have been made by those who had not returned to it but retained only shadowy and impressionistic memories of early productions. Far from being outdated and irrelevant to the black struggles of today, Ms. Hansberry’s writing anticipates and illuminates the struggles which black people in this land are carrying on right now. Her vision - what Mr. Lester calls her ‘gift to make us see the extraordinary in those who society had decreed were merely ordinary’ — is one of affirmation, and not the despair into which so many artists fall. She was a political radical, whose politics were not dogma but oneness with her people and all people and whose ‘genius,’ Lester writes, ‘lies in her ability to meld her revolutionary commitment with her artistic integrity.  Lorraine Hansberry is the black artist who lived beyond anger, which is not to say that she wasn’t angry. Her plays are an expression of rage against the outrages perpetrated against humanity. Anger did not define her art, but motivated and informed it. The quality which pervades her plays is compassion. She didn’t make the mistake of hating white people. She hated what people did to each other’ - and above all hated the social order that caused inhuman acts. For the young writer - black and white – she stands as the quintessential model, not only for her vision, but for her skill and integrity in the expression of that vision.’ Thus Lorraine Hansberry’s writings can be seen as an important prophetic journey into a time when all men, regardless of race or creed or color, can solve their conflicts humanely and treat each other with compassion. In this volume Robert Nemiroff, Miss Hansberry’s literary executor, has collected and edited her last works, giving for each the critical background necessary to place its importance in the canon of her work. LES BLANCS, which opened on Broadway in 1970, is a penetrating exploration of the making of a black revolutionary and is considered by many to be Ms. Hansberry’s best and most significant play. WHAT USE ARE FLOWERS?, which deals with the perpetuation of the human race, is a beautiful example of Ms. Hansberry’s affirmation of life. The third play in this volume, THE DRINKING GOURD, is a television drama commissioned – but never produced - by NBC. It is an incisive picture of slavery which Ms. Hansberry described as ‘a serious treatment of family relationships by a slave-owning family and their slaves.’ The history of that controversial NBC series, which Mr. Nemiroff provides, illuminates the battlefield in which Lorraine Hansberry wrote with enormous perseverance and extraordinary gifts.

 

  Lorraine Vivian Hansberry (May 19, 1930 – January 12, 1965) was an American playwright and writer. Hansberry inspired Nina Simone's song 'To Be Young, Gifted and Black'. She was the first black woman to write a play performed on Broadway. Her best known work, the play A Raisin in the Sun, highlights the lives of Black Americans living under racial segregation in Chicago. Hansberry's family had struggled against segregation, challenging a restrictive covenant and eventually provoking the Supreme Court case Hansberry v. Lee. The title of the play was taken from the poem 'Harlem' by Langston Hughes: 'What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?' After she moved to New York City, Hansberry worked at the Pan-Africanist newspaper Freedom, where she dealt with intellectuals such as Paul Robeson and W. E. B. Du Bois. Much of her work during this time concerned the African struggle for liberation and their impact on the world. Hansberry has been identified as a lesbian, and sexual freedom is an important topic in several of her works. She died of cancer at the age of 34.

 

 

 

 

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(02/15/2015) Blood On The Forge by William Attaway. New York. 1991. Monthly Review Press. paperback. 315 pages.  Cover illustration: Detail of a drawing by Thomas Hart Benton. Cover design by Linda Mason Briggs. Forewqord by John Oliver Killens. Afterword by Richard Yarborough. keywords: Literature African American Labor America Black. 0853457220.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   BLOOD ON THE FORGE is the powerful story of three black brothers who leave the rural South for the steel mills of Pittsburgh during the 1920s. Forced by racism and economic hardship to abandon their simple sharecropping life in the red-clay hills of Kentucky they follow promises of a better life in the industrial north. From the moment they step onto the freight train heading north, however they discover a world of poverty and exploitation as brutal as the one they are escaping. Amid the toil and sweat of their life in the gray factory town, they also discover a new form of racism - a racism manipulated by management to split the working class along racial lines and turn the union against itself. The afterword examines the life and career of William Attaway, as well as the contemporary response to the book, putting this in the context of the naturalist protest writing of the period, from Richard Wright NATIVE SON to John Steinbeck’s GRAPES OF WRATH.

 

  William Attaway was born in Greenville, Mississippi, in 1911, and moved north to Chicago with his family at the age of five. His first novel, LET ME BREATHE THUNDER, was published in 1939 when he was living and working in New York City, and was followed by BLOOD ON THE FORGE in 1941. This was to be his last novel, and he spent the remainder of his career writing for radio, film, and television. He died in Los Angeles in 1986. John Oliver Killens is a novelist and essayist, and author of YOUNGBLOOD and AND THEN WE HEARD THUNDER. Richard Yarborough is an associate professor in the Department of English and a faculty research associate with the Center for Afro- American Studies at UCLA He has published essays and reviews on Afro-American literature and is completing a study of early Afro- American fiction.

 

 

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(02/14/2015) In The African-American Grain by John E. Callahan. Urbana. 1988. University Of Illinois Press. hardcover. 281 pages.  Cover painting - ‘Untitled’ by Oliver Jackson, 1979.  keywords: Black America Literature Literary Criticism History African American. 0252014596.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   In the African-American Grain is a powerful exploration of the impact of African-American oral storytelling techniques on modern and contemporary fiction. Reading literature in the call-and-response tradition, John F. Callahan shows how African-American writers including Charles Chesnutt, Jean Toomer, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Ernest Gaines, and Alice Walker have used the forms and forces of this uniquely participatory discourse to establish not only a potential relationship between storyteller and audience but also a potential for change. In a new preface Callahan comments on how the tradition of call-and-response has continued to develop among African-American writers as well as writers of other backgrounds.

 

Callahan John E  "I worked for a good four plus years on Ellion's second novel and, with Mrs. Ellison's help and Random House's, came up with "Juneteenth." —John Callahan. John Callahan was a graduate student researching the writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald when a literary tangent led him along a different path. In the end, it was the work of writer Ralph Ellison, not Fitzgerald, that would leave a lifelong impression on Callahan. Ellison died in 1994, leaving behind 2,000 pages of unpublished writing, an expectation that there was a second novel coming and his widow, Fanny, who eventually asked Callahan to be the literary executor of Ellison’s work. From this archive of work that Ellison left—some of it on scraps of paper and napkins—came Ellison’s posthumous second novel, Juneteenth, and Three Days After the Shooting, both edited by Callahan, the latter novel with his former Lewis and Clark student, Adam Bradley. John Callahan is the Morgan S. Odell Professor of Humanities at Lewis and Clark College. Callahan’s own writing include In the African-American Grain, A Man You Could Love, and the upcoming The Learning Room..

 

 

 

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The Neglected Books Page

22 March 2019

www.NeglectedBooks.com: Where forgotten books are remembered
  • The Signpost, by E. Arnot Robertson (1943)

    Macmillan splashed this ad for E. Arnot Robertson’s novel, The Signpost across the top half of page 13 on the New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review, consuming paper that British publishers struggling with wartime shortages would have coveted. A Book of the Month Club selection, The Signpost was expected to have good sales based... Read more

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  • Marriage, Widowhood and After: Three Poems by Dorothy Livesay

    Wedlock Flesh binds us, makes us one And yet in each alone I hear the battle of the bone: A thousand ancestors have won. And we, so joined in flesh Are prisoned yet As soul alone must thresh In body’s net; And our two souls so left Achieve no unity: We are each one bereft... Read more

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  • No Goodness in the Worm, by Gay Taylor (1930)

    I’ve been interested in reading No Goodness in the Worm ever since I read A Prison, A Paradise, the memoir in which Gay Taylor, writing under the pseudonym of Loran Hurnscot (compiled from what she saw as her two worst sins, sloth and rancour), recalled her obsession and affair with A. E. Coppard and the... Read more

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  • Letters Home, arranged and edited by Mina Curtiss (1944)

    I knew Mina Curtiss’s name as the collector and editor of the letters of Marcel Proust. Curtiss wrote of her experiences in tracking down Proust’s letters in her 1978 memoir, Other People’s Letters (which is, unfortunately, out of print again). But I was surprised to learn that during World War Two, she collected letters written... Read

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  • As It Was in the Beginning, by G. E. Trevelyan (1934)

    The anonymous TLS reviewer described G. E. Trevelyan’s third novel, As It Was in the Beginning (1934) as “almost unreadable in its intensity.” Thumbing through the book after getting it in the mail last month, I could see that was an apt assessment, and somewhat dreaded the level of attention I would have to devote... Read more

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  • Angry Man’s Tale, by Peter de Polnay (1939)

    At a time when many first-time novelists bemourn publishers’ reluctance to back their works with advertisement, Alfred A. Knopf’s half-page ad for Peter de Polnay’s Angry Man’s Tale (1939) stands as righteous refutation. Look at that headline (perhaps not the best choice of font, Mr. Knopf): “Not the book of the year. Not even the... Read

    ...
  • “On the Floor” and the Mystery of Joan Jukes

    “But when I open the door I find someone has moved my chair.” Some hold that a proper short story should start midstream. Joan Jukes’ 1935 story, “On the Floor,” takes this advice to the extreme. Where are we? What was happening before he/she opened the door? Who is this narrator? The reader can only... Read more

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  • William’s Wife, by G. E. Trevelyan (1938)

    William’s Wife is the natural history of a bag lady. Starting from the day of her wedding to grocer William Chirp, a widower in his late fifties, G. E. Trevelyan takes us step by step through the metamorphosis of Jane Atkins from an ordinary young woman in service (a good position, more of a lady’s... Read more

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  • Undercurrent, by Barbara Jefferis (1953)

    When Miss Doxy, the spinster at center of Barbara Jefferis’ novel Undercurrent, sits down to breakfast in her boarding house dining room, she notices a strange man sitting at a table near the door. “They have so much,” she thinks. “So much money, so much power, so many people. They can change their man three... Read more

    The post ...

  • Quiet Street, by Michael Ossorgin [Mikhail Osorgin] (1930)

    I’ve been saving Mikhail Osorgin’s novel, Quiet Street, for a quiet break. There is something about a good, thick Russian book — things like Anna Karenina, Life and Fate, or Konstantin Paustovsky’s autobiography — that demand you set aside distractions and carve out hours to let it take over your life, and I could tell... Read

    ...
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