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Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin

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Included in this extraordinary volume are the poems of 43 of America’s most talented African American wordsmiths, including Pulitzer Prize–winning poets Rita Dove, Natasha Tretheway, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Tracy K. Smith, as well as the work of other luminaries such as Elizabeth Alexander, Ishmael Reed, and Sonia Sanchez. Included are poems such as “No Wound of Exit” by Pat Included in this extraordinary volume are the poems of 43 of America’s most talented African American wordsmiths, including Pulitzer Prize–winning poets Rita Dove, Natasha Tretheway, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Tracy K. Smith, as well as the work of other luminaries such as Elizabeth Alexander, Ishmael Reed, and Sonia Sanchez. Included are poems such as “No Wound of Exit” by Patricia Smith, “We Are Not Responsible” by Harryette Mullen, and “Poem for My Father” by Quincy Troupe. Each is accompanied by a photograph of the poet along with a first-person biography. The anthology also contains personal essays on race such as “The Talk” by Jeannine Amber and works by Harry Belafonte, Amiri Baraka, and The Reverend Dr. William Barber II, architect of the Moral Mondays movement, as well as images and iconic political posters of the Black Lives Matter movement, Malcolm X, and the Black Panther Party. Taken together, Of Poetry and Protest gives voice to the current conversation about race in America while also providing historical and cultural context. It serves as an excellent introduction to African American poetry and is a must-have for every reader committed to social justice and racial harmony.  


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Included in this extraordinary volume are the poems of 43 of America’s most talented African American wordsmiths, including Pulitzer Prize–winning poets Rita Dove, Natasha Tretheway, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Tracy K. Smith, as well as the work of other luminaries such as Elizabeth Alexander, Ishmael Reed, and Sonia Sanchez. Included are poems such as “No Wound of Exit” by Pat Included in this extraordinary volume are the poems of 43 of America’s most talented African American wordsmiths, including Pulitzer Prize–winning poets Rita Dove, Natasha Tretheway, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Tracy K. Smith, as well as the work of other luminaries such as Elizabeth Alexander, Ishmael Reed, and Sonia Sanchez. Included are poems such as “No Wound of Exit” by Patricia Smith, “We Are Not Responsible” by Harryette Mullen, and “Poem for My Father” by Quincy Troupe. Each is accompanied by a photograph of the poet along with a first-person biography. The anthology also contains personal essays on race such as “The Talk” by Jeannine Amber and works by Harry Belafonte, Amiri Baraka, and The Reverend Dr. William Barber II, architect of the Moral Mondays movement, as well as images and iconic political posters of the Black Lives Matter movement, Malcolm X, and the Black Panther Party. Taken together, Of Poetry and Protest gives voice to the current conversation about race in America while also providing historical and cultural context. It serves as an excellent introduction to African American poetry and is a must-have for every reader committed to social justice and racial harmony.  

30 review for Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Marie

    4.5 stars The entirety of Of Poetry and Protest is gripping, moving, heartbreaking, and real. It's full of grit and truths that Americans sometimes look away from when it comes to the black community and this book expresses the plights of different sects within that community. It's an amazing collection and I tabbed so many poems. There were a handful of poems that I was personally not a fan (hence, why it is a 4.5 and not a 5-star rating), but there were so many wonderful poems that gripped me a 4.5 stars The entirety of Of Poetry and Protest is gripping, moving, heartbreaking, and real. It's full of grit and truths that Americans sometimes look away from when it comes to the black community and this book expresses the plights of different sects within that community. It's an amazing collection and I tabbed so many poems. There were a handful of poems that I was personally not a fan (hence, why it is a 4.5 and not a 5-star rating), but there were so many wonderful poems that gripped me and moved me to my core. These are the type of poetry collections that should be gaining recognition, not stuff like milk and honey. This is the stuff that speaks for everyone and has truths that dig deep into the soul. I highly recommend checking Of Poetry and Protest out if you haven't because I promise you, it is an amazing experience. I'm currently reading this book for my poetry class and this is just such a beautifully well-done novel. It's so wonderfully crafted and I'm so happy that I bought a copy instead of renting it. I'll be documenting the poems that I read in class. Narrative: Ali, a poem in twelve rounds- Elizabeth Alexander I absolutely adore the layout of this poem. It's genius and the poem itself is very different. It follows Muhammad Ali in twelve different sections. It has a lot of wonderful lines. I was really impressed with it. Protest Poetry- Amiri Baraka This is an essay on Baraka's stance on protest poetry and he has a very strong presence on the page. His spoken poems are even stronger. He was definitely an important cornerstone in the poetry movement. I'm glad I was introduced to him. Fannie (of Fannie Lou Hamer)- Angela Jackson I don't know. I wasn't a fan of this one. It didn't speak to me or move me. I just feel very indifferent towards it. I Hear the Shuffle of the People's Feet- Sterling Plumpp I really liked this piece. It's longer than a lot of the others in this collection, but it has a strong presence and touches on so many themes while painting this grand picture of the black struggle from a slave ship to Civil Rights. Really well done. No Wound of Exit- Patricia Smith I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this poem. It made me cry. It hurt my heart and most of all I felt the picture that Smith was painting all the way down to the core of my soul. This is good poetry. I'm a fan of Smith for sure now.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    This anthology of protest poetry by Black writers is timely and a must-read. Each poet has one poem, accompanied by a short essay by the poet about their influences and why they write, as well as a black-and-white photo portraits. It's an education in 219 pages and a major political, historical and literary resource.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Reese

    A fine book, indeed, but the book's subtitle "From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin" led me to believe it was something slightly different. 43 African American poets each share a personal statement regarding their poetic development, influences, and intentions on a page facing their black-and-white photograph taken by Victoria Smith; followed by one of their poems. Additional photographs and artwork are interspersed this modest coffee-table-sized book. Too many favorites to name, here! For example, Ha A fine book, indeed, but the book's subtitle "From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin" led me to believe it was something slightly different. 43 African American poets each share a personal statement regarding their poetic development, influences, and intentions on a page facing their black-and-white photograph taken by Victoria Smith; followed by one of their poems. Additional photographs and artwork are interspersed this modest coffee-table-sized book. Too many favorites to name, here! For example, Harryette Mullens' poem, "We Are Not Responsible": We are not responsible for your lost or stolen relatives. We cannot guarantee your safety if you disobey our instructions. We do not endorse the causes or claims of people begging for handouts. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Your ticket does not guarantee that we will honor your reservations. In order to facilitate our procedures, please limit your carrying on. Before taking off, please extinguish all smoldering resentments. If you cannot understand English, you will be moved out of the way. In the event of a loss, you'd better look out for yourself. Your insurance was cancelled because we can no longer handle your frightful claims. Our handlers lost your luggage and we are unable to find the key to your legal case. You were detained for interrogation because you fit the profile. You were not presumed to be innocent if the police have reason to suspect you are carrying a concealed wallet. It's not our fault you were born wearing a gang color. It is not our obligation to inform you of your rights. Step aside, please, while our officer inspects your bad attitude. You have no rights that we are bound to respect. Please remain calm, or we can't be held responsible for what happens to you. And this, from Kwame Dawes' personal statement: "I think that a poet who writes love poems in the middle of war is a political poet. Poetry teaches me how to make this lisping, stammering tongue of mine pray, preach, lament, bear witness, praise, adore, abuse, and voice the discoveries I make about the complexities of living in this world. I am not a political poet because to say I am political would limit both what poetry is and what politics is. I am a political being. I make poems. My poems never ignore who I am, and my poems help me to understand who I am." Nikky Finney says in her personal statement: "My poetics consist of Black holes. Black hips. Black hands. Black rice. Black love. Black noses. Black alphabets. Black water. Black wine. Black cast iron. Black tenderness. Black pencils. Black lips. Black notes. Black dance moves. Black ladybugs. Black air. Black cows. Black clavicles. Black feet. Black farmers. Black words. Black popcorn. Black sweet potatoes. Black motion. Black arms, folded and unfolded." And Tyehimba Jess' poem, "Infernal": There is a riot I fit into, a place I fled called the Motor City. It owns a story old and forsaken as the furnaces of Packard Plant, as creased as the palm of my hand in a summer I was too young to remember - 1967. My father ran into the streets to claim a small part of my people's anger in his Kodak, a portrait of the flame that became our flag long enough to tell us there was no turning back, that we'd burned ourselves clean of all doubt. That's the proof I've witnessed. I've seen it up close and in headlines, a felony sentence spelling out the reasons my mother's house is now worth less than my sister's Honda, how my father's worthy rage is worth nothing at all. In the scheme of it all, though, my kin came out lucky. We survived, mostly by fleeing the flames while sealing their heat in our minds the way a bank holds a mortgage - the way a father holds his son's hand while his city burns around him... I almost forgot to mention: the canary in Detroit's proverbial coal mine who sang for my parents when they fled the inferno of the South, its song sweaty sweet with promise. I'm singing myself, right now. I'm singing the best way I know about the way I've run from one fire to another. I've got a head full of song, boiling away. I carry a portrait of my father. ....just to share a small sampling....

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mallory

    Some of the poems in this collection were fire and other ones not so much. It was kind of a slog to get through the ones I didn't like.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Patrice Jones

    This is one of the best poetry compilations I have ever read. This book is pure enlightenment. I did not know most of these people who contributed to this book. Their stories were pure testimonials and their poetry pure salutations to people who lived and died and even to those to continue to live in the struggle for justice.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin is an anthology of poetry about the black experience and was collected and edited by Philip Cushway. There are many themes of this anthology, but the major one is social justice, protest, and black history. For the most part, I really like these contributions. This collection of poems and essays from 43 African-American poets, with photographs by Victoria Smith, functions as a platform for some of America's most prominent black poets to sh Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin is an anthology of poetry about the black experience and was collected and edited by Philip Cushway. There are many themes of this anthology, but the major one is social justice, protest, and black history. For the most part, I really like these contributions. This collection of poems and essays from 43 African-American poets, with photographs by Victoria Smith, functions as a platform for some of America's most prominent black poets to share how they came to poetry, how poetry functions in the social milieu, and how poems can address social justice, protest, and history. The anthology largely focuses on established, prominent poets writing in accepted modes, though a handful of younger poets round it out, along with quotes, stand-alone essays, and art displayed prominently along with the portraits. The poetry itself addresses topics such as slavery and reconstruction, the civil rights era, Martin Luther King Jr., Move, Malcolm X, France’s May 1968 protests, Obama's presidency, police murders, and the Black Lives Matter movement. All in all, Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin is a wonderful collection of poems that captures black history extremely well.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Wiltfong

    This is a powerful collection of poetry by living black authors in America. I went in having already read poetry by Terrance Hayes (you need to read Hip Logic), Yusef Komunyakaa, and Al Young (who I had the pleasure to meet, briefly, and hear read). I come out of this experience, for this book is truly a masterpiece and so much more than just poetry, with many more skilled black authors to read in the future. You should read it. I'll let the writers speak for themselves.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cesar Lopez

    Woah. Just Woah! This book was put up on display at our Library for Black History Month and at the recommendation of a Co-worker I gave it a read. I have kept this book for over three weeks slowly pouring over each page! This anthology of African American/Black Poets and Writers is just amazing. The compilation of poems and essays that were chosen were really thought provoking. I would recommend this to anyone to read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    This book is a compilation of different poets, their poems and information about them. The book, given by the title is full of information about the frustration of the racial climate in the United States. Every poet is African american and I enjoyed most learning about each poet and what significant life events have impacted them. Poetry middle -highschool. even upper elementary school if used in an appropriate way.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charity Jon

    Essential This book is a wonderful level 101 to the who's who from the Black Arts Movement with several more modern contemporaries also featured. I craved to see a more variegated spread of poets and writers of color from different walks of life (including Libya folk) but I was still moved by the short bios and poems.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    In addition to poems reflecting a wide variety of styles and subjects (intimately personal to majestically political, past to present), I also enjoyed the first person biographical narratives each poet wrote. For every one, it also included the story of their identity as a poet or writer, and the names of those who influenced them. It gave me many poets to add to my library checkout list...

  12. 4 out of 5

    lisa

    Read this to soothe and inspire yourself in these grim days. I loved "New Rules of the Road" by Reginald Harris, "Rose Colored City" by Major Jackson, "Tallahatchiue Lullaby, Baby" by Douglas Kearney, and "Duende" by Tracy K Smith. But my most favorite poem from this book, one that I will carry in my heart going forward was "I Hear the Shuffle of the People's Feet" by Sterling Plumpp.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mela

    black poetry matters. "for the poet writing in america today, few of us have taken a stance - even rhetorically - against the grandmasters of violence in our neighborhoods scored for MTV. maybe we know language has also betrayed us, but i wish to write poems that say, No we'll never let language subvert or diminish the content of our character." - yusef komunyakaa

  14. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    What a compilation! Loved the profiles of all the writers, some of their poems not so much. But still a must read for the depth and breadth of talent.

  15. 4 out of 5

    M. Gaffney

    What a powerful collection of poets, artists, and activists. A truly remarkable read. I'm glad I took my time.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pauline

    Powerful poetry that can be used to augment units that focus on social justice; could also be filed under non-fiction.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Mester

    Required for MS/HS collections. Powerful pieces, and you learn snippets about each poet (some of whom were new to me). Shared a few poems with 7th graders, they appreciated them, but age-appropriateness varies by selection. Pieces that moved me the most: "No Wound of Exit", "statement on the killing of patrick dorismond", and "Li'l Kings"

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robin M.

    Amazing works. The different perspectives of what protest and poetry and just living look like are amazing, and the history and all the different voices are insightful and powerful. One of my favorite things about this book are all of the recommended reading in each of the poet's sections.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    Wonderful, wonderful collection.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Lee

    A quick note: I was caught up in the bios of the poets as much, if not more, than the poetry. Names so familiar. As a two time Cave Canem participant (wasn't able to make my last year), many of the poets are familiar to me, some whom I got to study with at Cave Canem. Kudos to the important work black writers are contributing, their witness and insights so impactful.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    811.00808 O31 2016

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pranami Neeta

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paris

  28. 5 out of 5

    Drew

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily

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