David Mason

African American Poetry is an ambitious and wide-ranging collection of Black poetry. Edited by Kevin Young, a fellow poet and poetry editor of The New Yorker, the collection spans contemporary writers such as the Pulitzer Prize-winner Jericho Brown to literary giants such as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Derek Walcott. As David Mason writes, 'It needs to be said and said again just how profoundly American this poetry is, how it enriches culture and should not be ignored among the more conventionally canonised.' 

... (read more)

The Library of America has published massive anthologies of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American poetry that include work from multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds, so why now another large book devoted exclusively to African Americans? Because it needs to be said and said again just how profoundly American this poetry is, how it enriches culture and should not be ignored among the more conventionally canonised. The fact that this book appeared in 2020, the year when Black Lives Matter protests went global, only underlines its importance as a historical marker. Poetry by Black Americans is not only unignorable but central to American literary life. Reading African American Poetry: 250 years of struggle and song may change your way of reading poetry, particularly modern poetry. It is that rare thing among anthologies, a moving book, enlivened by fire and soul.

... (read more)

Dearly by Margaret Atwood

by
March 2021, no. 429

Margaret Atwood began as a poet and transformed herself into a factory, producing work of great energy and range. Since her first collection, Double Persephone, appeared in 1961, she has published more than sixty books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. She is a librettist, a maker of eBooks, graphic novels, and television scripts, and, with the serialisations of The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace, a beloved global phenomenon. Much of this work builds on genre fiction bones: the gothic romance, the dystopian novel, and speculative fiction. But now it has become difficult to see her poetry as anything more than an adjunct to her prose, attracting attention less because of its merits as poetry than because it is an Atwood production.

... (read more)