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The Furious Flowering of African American Poetry

Joanne V. Gabbin, ed.

BUY Paper · 330 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813918419 · $25.00 · Jul 1999

AFRICAN-AMERICAN POETRY, with its wellsprings in jazz and vernacular culture and its inescapable political dimension, stands among the most important bodies of literary work of the twentieth century. This collection of essays and six lively interviews with practicing poets, arising from the now-famous Furious Flower Conference of 1994, provides a mosaic of the major critical and aesthetic issues emerging from the poetry and its literary milieu.

African-American poets writing in the last fifty years have raised their voices in the struggle against racism, sexism, political and economic exploitation, violence, and injustice. Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Haki Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones), Joyce Ann Joyce, Sherley Anne Williams, Michael S. Harper, Margaret Walker and many others have created lyrical beauty in their exploration of public and private concerns. Unlike any previous scholarship, The Furious Flowering of African American Poetry draws readers into a dialogue with leading poets and critics of African-American literature and culture. The interviews and critical essays address the adequacy and appropriateness of theoretical models for assessing the work of black poets, the construction of a literary framework in which to place the poets and their work, and the art and purpose of the poets themselves.

Furious Flowering offers students, scholars, readers, and writers of African-American poetry a chance to take part in an unprecedented discussion of a complex literary culture.


A blessing... a service... a race woman's gift in the tradition of benevolent ancestors. This book brings together voices of middle-aged militants and brilliantly sophisticated new generations. It is an alchemical chorus, filled with words, music, chants, kitchen-table conversation, august critical intelligence. This book is standard-setting—you cannot know American poetry without reading it. All hail its editor... all praise to the black academic activism it represents.

Houston A. Baker, Jr., University of Pennsylvania

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