16 Books Published by University of Michigan Press on Our Site — Book Cover Mosaic

Click for more detail about Condition Red: Essays, Interviews, and Commentaries (Poets on Poetry) by Yusef Komunyakaa Condition Red: Essays, Interviews, and Commentaries (Poets on Poetry)

by Yusef Komunyakaa
University of Michigan Press (Mar 28, 2017)
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Condition Red collects writing by one of America’s most gifted and revered poets, Yusef Komunyakaa. While themes from his earlier prose collection, Blue Notes, run through Condition Red, this volume expresses a greater sense of urgency about the human condition and the role of the artist. Condition Red includes his powerful letter to Poetry magazine, asserting that “we writers (artists) cannot forget that we are responsible for what we conjure and embrace through language, whether in essays, novels, plays, poems, or songs.” Also included are essays and interviews on: coming home to Bogalusa, Louisiana; the influence of religion on black poetry; language and eroticism; the visual artist Floyd Tunson; and the poets Robert Hayden, Walt Whitman, Clarence Major, and Etheridge Knight. The book features an extended introduction by editor Radiclani Clytus, who concludes that “Condition Red issues readers much more than a critical warning; it reminds us that our innate cultural capacity for language is, and always has been, the sum total of that which defines us.”


Click for more detail about Hazel Scott: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist, from Cafe Society to Hollywood to HUAC by Karen Chilton Hazel Scott: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist, from Cafe Society to Hollywood to HUAC

by Karen Chilton
University of Michigan Press (Jul 08, 2010)
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"Hazel Scott was an important figure in the later part of the Black renaissance onward. Even in an era where there was limited mainstream recognition of Black Stars, Hazel Scott’s talent stood out and she is still fondly remembered by a large segment of the community. I am pleased to see her legend honored."
—-Melvin Van Peebles, filmmaker and director"This book is really, really important. It comprises a lot of history—-of culture, race, gender, and America. In many ways, Hazel’s story is the story of the twentieth century."
—-Murray Horwitz, NPR commentator and coauthor of Ain’t Misbehavin’"Karen Chilton has deftly woven three narrative threads—-Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Harlem, and Hazel Scott—-into a marvelous tapestry of black life, particularly from the Depression to the Civil Rights era. Of course, Hazel Scott’s magnificent career is the brightest thread, and Chilton handles it with the same finesse and brilliance as her subject brought to the piano."
—-Herb Boyd, author of Baldwin’s Harlem: A Biography of James Baldwin"A wonderful book about an extraordinary woman: Hazel Scott was a glamorous, gifted musician and fierce freedom fighter. Thank you Karen Chilton for reintroducing her. May she never be forgotten."
—-Farah Griffin, Institute for Research in African-American Studies, Columbia UniversityIn this fascinating biography, Karen Chilton traces the brilliant arc of the gifted and audacious pianist Hazel Scott, from international stardom to ultimate obscurity.A child prodigy, born in Trinidad and raised in Harlem in the 1920s, Scott’s musical talent was cultivated by her musician mother, Alma Long Scott as well as several great jazz luminaries of the period, namely, Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday and Lester Young. Career success was swift for the young pianist—-she auditioned at the prestigious Juilliard School when she was only eight years old, hosted her own radio show, and shared the bill at Roseland Ballroom with the Count Basie Orchestra at fifteen. After several stand-out performances on Broadway, it was the opening of New York’s first integrated nightclub, Café Society, that made Hazel Scott a star. Still a teenager, the "Darling of Café Society" wowed audiences with her swing renditions of classical masterpieces by Chopin, Bach, and Rachmaninoff. By the time Hollywood came calling, Scott had achieved such stature that she could successfully challenge the studios’ deplorable treatment of black actors. She would later become one of the first black women to host her own television show. During the 1940s and 50s, her sexy and vivacious presence captivated fans worldwide, while her marriage to the controversial black Congressman from Harlem, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., kept her constantly in the headlines.In a career spanning over four decades, Hazel Scott became known not only for her accomplishments on stage and screen, but for her outspoken advocacy of civil rights and her refusal to play before segregated audiences. Her relentless crusade on behalf of African Americans, women, and artists made her the target of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the McCarthy Era, eventually forcing her to join the black expatriate community in Paris. By age twenty-five, Hazel Scott was an international star. Before reaching thirty-five, however, she considered herself a failure. Plagued by insecurity and depression, she twice tried to take her own life. Though she was once one of the most sought-after talents in show business, Scott would return to America, after years of living abroad, to a music world that no longer valued what she had to offer. In this first biography of an important but overlooked African American pianist, singer, actor and activist, Hazel Scott’s contributions are finally recognized.Karen Chilton is a New York-based writer and actor, and the coauthor of I Wish You Love, the memoir of legendary jazz vocalist Gloria Lynne.


Click for more detail about Delightfulee: The Life And Music Of Lee Morgan (Jazz Perspectives) by Jeff Mcmillan Delightfulee: The Life And Music Of Lee Morgan (Jazz Perspectives)

by Jeff Mcmillan
University of Michigan Press (Jul 21, 2008)
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One of the most individual stylists of his time, trumpeter Lee Morgan began his professional career in Philadelphia at age fifteen. At eighteen, after a short stint with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Morgan joined Dizzy Gillespie’s orchestra, where he stayed until the group disbanded in 1958. A return to Blakey brought Morgan new opportunities, including his first successful attempts at composition. But however much his time with Blakey helped to advance his playing and writing, his boss’s and his bandmates’ destructive drug habits exerted just as strong an influence. Within three years, Morgan would be back home in Philadelphia, strung out on heroin and penniless.Morgan’s return to music in the early to mid-sixties witnessed a tremendous evolution in his playing. Formerly a virtuoso in the model of his idol, Clifford Brown, Morgan brought to his critically acclaimed Blue Note records of the era an emotionally charged, muscular tone, full of poise and control. But it was with the record Sidewinder, recorded in 1963, that Morgan found his greatest fame and commercial success, due to the infectious groove of the title tune. By the time of his death, at thirty-three—-murdered in a New York City club by his girlfriend during a gig—-Morgan had begun a new phase of his career, experimenting with freer-forms of musical expression.Jeff McMillan’s Delightfulee is the first biography to seriously examine Morgan’s vast contributions to jazz, both as a performer and as a composer. Thanks to exclusive access to Lee Morgan’s now-deceased brother, McMillan is also able to provide unparalleled insight into Morgan’s personal and family lifeJeff McMillan received his master’s degree from the Jazz History and Research program at Rutgers-Newark in 2000 and currently works as an archivist for the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Book Review

Click for more detail about Don’t Deny My Name: Words and Music and the Black Intellectual Tradition by Lorenzo Thomas Don’t Deny My Name: Words and Music and the Black Intellectual Tradition

by Lorenzo Thomas
University of Michigan Press (May 02, 2008)
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Black musical forms profoundly influenced the work of American poet and leading literary figure Lorenzo Thomas, and he wrote about them with keen insight-and obvious pleasure. This book, begun by Thomas before his death in 2005, collects more than a dozen of his savvy yet engagingly personal essays that probe the links between African American music, literature, and popular culture, from the Harlem Renaissance to the present.Don’t Deny My Name (which takes its title from a blues song by Jelly Roll Morton) begins by laying out the case that the blues is a body of literature that captured the experience of African American migrants to the urban North and newer territories to the West. The essays that follow collectively provide a tour of the movement through classic jazz, bop, and the explosions of the free jazz era, followed by a section on R&B and soul. The penultimate essay is a meditation on rap music that attempts to bring together the extremes of emotion that hip hop elicits, and the collection ends with an unfinished preface to the volume.


Click for more detail about Power And Possibility: Essays, Reviews, And Interviews (Poets On Poetry) by Elizabeth Alexander Power And Possibility: Essays, Reviews, And Interviews (Poets On Poetry)

by Elizabeth Alexander
University of Michigan Press (Aug 10, 2007)
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A volume in the Poets on Poetry series, which collects critical works by contemporary poets, gathering together the articles, interviews, and book reviews by which they have articulated the poetics of a new generation.Elizabeth Alexander is considered one of the country’s most gifted contemporary poets, and the publication of her essays in The Black Interior in 2004 established her as an astute critic and cultural commentator as well. Arnold Rampersad has called Alexander "one of the brightest stars in our literary sky . . . a superb, invaluable commentator on the American scene." In this new collection of her essays, reviews, and interviews, Alexander again focuses on African American artistic production, particularly poetry, and the cultural contexts in which it is created and experienced.The book’s first section, "Black Arts 101," takes up the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, Sterling Brown, Lucille Clifton, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Rita Dove (among others); artist Romare Bearden; dancer Bill T. Jones; and dramatist August Wilson. A second section, "Black Feminist Thinking," provides engaging meditations ranging from "My Grandmother’s Hair" and "A Very Short History of Black Women and Food" to essays on the legacies of Toni Cade, Audre Lorde, and June Jordan. The collection’s final section, "Talking," includes interviews, a commencement address—-"Black Graduation"—-and the essay "Africa and the World."Elizabeth Alexander received a B.A. from Yale University, an M.A. from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She has published four books of poems: The Venus Hottentot (1990); Body of Life (1996); Antebellum Dream Book (2001); and, most recently, American Sublime (2005), which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Her play, Diva Studies, was produced at the Yale School of Drama. She is presently Professor of American and African American Studies at Yale University.


Click for more detail about Let Me Live by Angelo Herndon Let Me Live

by Angelo Herndon
University of Michigan Press (Mar 15, 2007)
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 Let Me Live tells the remarkable story of Angelo Herndon, a coal miner who worked as a labor organizer in Alabama and Georgia in the 1930s. Herndon led a racially integrated march of the unemployed in 1932 and was subsequently arrested when Communist Party literature was found in his bedroom. His trial made only small headlines at first, but eventually an international campaign to free him emerged, thanks to the efforts of the Communist Party and of labor unions interested in protecting the right to organize in the South. Herndon was finally set free by the U.S. Supreme Court, with the help of well-known leaders including C. Vann Woodward, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, and Whitney North Seymour, Sr.Written while Herndon was in prison, Let Me Live tells the story behind his arrest and his struggle through the courts. It also describes his early life as a young boy in poverty, as a laborer in the Kentucky mines, and as a construction gang worker and traces the birth and development of his passion for the Communist Party. Originally published in 1937, this is the first new edition of Let Me Live since 1969, when Howard N. Meyer rescued it from obscurity. The book features texts from the Georgia and U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the text of Herndon’s speech, and newspaper editorials from the era. A substantive and thought-provoking introduction by Marlon B. Ross of the University of Virginia sheds light on this unique story and its importance to our understanding of the intersection of race and class in America?past and present.  “A book which every thoughtful American may do well to read. It is moving and challenging as the story of one man’s life and the question of one man’s fate.”            ?New York Times


Click for more detail about Workin’ on the Chain Gang: Shaking Off the Dead Hand of History by Walter Mosley Workin’ on the Chain Gang: Shaking Off the Dead Hand of History

by Walter Mosley
University of Michigan Press (Dec 27, 2006)
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A passionate examination of the social and economic injustices that continue to shackle the American people Praise for Workin’ on the Chain Gang: … bracing and provocative… —Publishers Weekly … clear-sighted … Mosley offers chain-breaking ideas… —Los Angeles Times Book Review [A] thoroughly potent dismantling of Yanqui capitalism, the media, and the entertainment business, and at the same time a celebration of rebellion, truth as a tool for emancipation, and much else besides… —Toronto Globe and Mail Workin’ on the Chain Gang excels at expressing feelings of ennui that transcend race… . beautiful language and penetrating insights into the necessity of confronting the past—Washington Post Mosley eloquently examines what liberation from consumer capitalism might look like… . readers receptive to a progressive critique of the religion of the market will value Mosley’s creative contribution—Booklist Walter Mosley’s most recent essay collection is Life Out of Context, published in 2006. He is the best-selling author of the science fiction novel Blue Light, five critically acclaimed mysteries featuring Easy Rawlins, the blues novel RL’s Dream, a finalist for the NAACP Award in Fiction, and winner of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s Literary Award. His books have been translated into twenty languages. He lives in New York. Clyde Taylor is Professor of Africana Studies at NYU’s Gallatin School and author of The Mask of Art: Breaking the Aesthetic Contract—Film and Literature.


Click for more detail about Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade

by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady
University of Michigan Press (Jan 10, 2006)
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Cave Canem has for the past ten years dedicated itself to the discovery and cultivation of new voices in African American poetry. Founded in 1996 by prizewinning poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady, Cave Canem began as a weeklong summer workshop/retreat and has now expanded to include regional workshops, poetry readings, a series of public conversations between major poets and emerging younger poets, and an annual first-book prize.

To mark the first decade of this pathbreaking project, Gathering Ground presents more than one hundred poems by Cave Canem participants and faculty. It embraces an impressive and eclectic gathering of forms, including sonnets, a bop (a new form created by a Cave Canem faculty member), blues, sestinas, prose poems, centos, free verse, and more. The roster of distinguished contributors includes Lucille Clifton, Yusef Komunyakaa, Marilyn Nelson, Sonya Sanchez, Al Young, and many others.

For newcomers and aficionados alike, Gathering Ground assembles in one place the most innovative voices in contemporary African American poetry and boldly attests to the important position it holds in verse-making today.

Toi Derricotte is author of the memoir The Black Notebooks and of four books of poetry: Tender, Captivity, Natural Birth, and The Empress of the Death House. She is Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. Cornelius Eady is the author of Brutal Imagination, Autobiography of a Jukebox, You Don’t Miss Your Water, The Gathering of My Name, and Victims of the Latest Dance Craze. He is Associate Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame.


Click for more detail about Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade

by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady
University of Michigan Press (Jan 09, 2006)
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Cave Canem has for the past ten years dedicated itself to the discovery and cultivation of new voices in African American poetry. Founded in 1996 by prizewinning poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady, Cave Canem began as a weeklong summer workshop/retreat and has now expanded to include regional workshops, poetry readings, a series of public conversations between major poets and emerging younger poets, and an annual first-book prize.

To mark the first decade of this pathbreaking project, Gathering Ground presents more than one hundred poems by Cave Canem participants and faculty. It embraces an impressive and eclectic gathering of forms, including sonnets, a bop (a new form created by a Cave Canem faculty member), blues, sestinas, prose poems, centos, free verse, and more. The roster of distinguished contributors includes Lucille Clifton, Yusef Komunyakaa, Marilyn Nelson, Sonya Sanchez, Al Young, and many others.

For newcomers and aficionados alike, Gathering Ground assembles in one place the most innovative voices in contemporary African American poetry and boldly attests to the important position it holds in verse-making today.

Toi Derricotte is author of the memoir The Black Notebooks and of four books of poetry: Tender, Captivity, Natural Birth, and The Empress of the Death House. She is Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. Cornelius Eady is the author of Brutal Imagination, Autobiography of a Jukebox, You Don’t Miss Your Water, The Gathering of My Name, and Victims of the Latest Dance Craze. He is Associate Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame.


Click for more detail about One Nation Under A Groove: Motown and American Culture by Gerald L. Early One Nation Under A Groove: Motown and American Culture

by Gerald L. Early
University of Michigan Press (Mar 25, 2004)
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In its heyday Motown Records was a household word, one of the most famous and successful black-owned businesses in American history, and, arguably, the most significant of all American independent record labels.

How it got to be that way and how it changed the face of American popular culture are the subjects of this concise study of Berry Gordy’s phenomenal creation. Author Gerald Early tells the story of the cultural and historical conditions that made Motown Records possible, including the dramatic shifts in American popular music of the time, changes in race relations and racial attitudes, and the rise of a black urban population. Early concentrates in particular on the 1960s and 70s, when Motown had its biggest impact on American musical tastes and styles.
With this revised and expanded edition, the author provides an up-to-date bibliography of the major books that have been written about Motown Records specifically, and black American music generally. Plus, new appendices feature interviews with four of the major creators of the Motown Sound: Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Marvin Gaye.


Click for more detail about Robert Hayden: Essays On The Poetry (Under Discussion) by Laurence Goldstein and Robert Chrisman Robert Hayden: Essays On The Poetry (Under Discussion)

by Laurence Goldstein and Robert Chrisman
University of Michigan Press (Oct 23, 2001)
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This collection of essays by leading critics and poets charts Robert Hayden’s growing reputation as a major writer of some of the twentieth century’s most important poems on African-American themes, including the famed “Middle Passage” and “Frederick Douglass.” The essays illuminate the themes and techniques that established Hayden as a modernist writer with affinities to T. S. Eliot, Federico Garcia Lorca, and W. B. Yeats, as well as to traditions of African-American writings that include such figures as Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes. Robert Hayden: Essays on the Poetry is the first and only book to collect significant essays on this distinguished poet. Covering sixty years of commentary, book reviews, essays, and Hayden’s own published materials, this volume is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the poet’s vision of experience, artistry, and influence. The book includes forty different works that examine the life and poetry of Hayden, the first African-American to serve as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (the post now called Poet Laureate) and to receive the Grand Prix de la Poesie at the First World Festival of Negro Arts, Dakar, Senegal, in 1966.


Click for more detail about Blue Notes: Essays, Interviews, And Commentaries
 by Yusef Komunyakaa Blue Notes: Essays, Interviews, And Commentaries

by Yusef Komunyakaa
University of Michigan Press (Feb 29, 2000)
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Blue Notes offers an assortment of poet Yusef Komunyakaa’s writing on contemporary poetry and music. The book is arranged in four sections. The first gathers essays on the work of poets and blues and jazz musicians influential to Komunyakaa’s work, from Langston Hughes and Etheridge Knight to Ma Rainey and Thelonious Monk; the second collects a gallery of Komunyakaa’s poems and the poet’s commentary about each of them. The third selects interviews that reveal the development of the poet’s aesthetic sensibility. The final section consists of four artistic explorations that reflect the poet’s current interests. Two of of these texts, "Tenebrae" and "Buddy’s Monologue," have been recently performed.
As editor Radiclani Clytus makes clear in the volume’s introductory essay, although Komunyakaa’s poetry has its roots in the stylistic innovations of early twentieth-century American modernists, his writing often reflects his understanding that a "black" experience should not particularize the presentation of one’s art. This volume, according to the editor, is an attempt to understand Komunyakaa’s critical eclecticism within the context of his own words.
Yusef Komunyakaa’s books of poetry include I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head, Magic City, Thieves of Paradise, and Neon Vernacular, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award in 1994.


Click for more detail about John Coltrane: His Life And Music (The Michigan American Music Series) by Lewis Porter John Coltrane: His Life And Music (The Michigan American Music Series)

by Lewis Porter
University of Michigan Press (Jan 28, 2000)
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This is a definitive assessment of the life and work of jazz musician John Coltrane, based on new interviews with his colleagues and never-before-published material. John Coltrane was a key figure in jazz, a pioneer in world music, and an intensely emotional force whose following continues to grow. This new biography, the first by a professional jazz scholar and performer, presents a huge amount of never-before-published material, including interviews with Coltrane, photos, genealogical documents, and innovative musical analysis that offers a fresh view of Coltrane’s genius. Compiled from scratch with the assistance of dozens of Coltrane’s colleagues, friends, and family, "John Coltrane: His Life and Music" corrects numerous errors from previous biographies. The significant people in Coltrane’s life were reinterviewed, yielding new insights; some were interviewed for the first time ever. The musical analysis, which is accessible to the nonspecialist, makes its own revelations-for example, that some of Coltrane’s well-known pieces are based on previously unrecognized sources. The Appendix is the most detailed chronology of Coltrane’s performing career ever compiled, listing scores of previously unknown performances from the 1940s and early 1950s. Coltrane has become a musical inspiration for thousands of fans and musicians and a personal inspiration to as many more. For all of these, Porter’s book will become the definitive resource - a reliable guide to the events of Coltrane’s life and an insightful look into his musical practices.


Click for more detail about The Walls Of Jericho (Ann Arbor Paperbacks) by Rudolph Fisher The Walls Of Jericho (Ann Arbor Paperbacks)

by Rudolph Fisher
University of Michigan Press (Aug 15, 1994)
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The first novel by one of the legends of the Harlem Renaissance


Click for more detail about Selected Poems by Lorna Goodison Selected Poems

by Lorna Goodison
University of Michigan Press (Mar 01, 1993)
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Poetry of personal and political vibrancy by a contemporary Caribbean writer


Click for more detail about The Conjure-Man Dies: A Mystery Tale of Dark Harlem by Rudolph Fisher The Conjure-Man Dies: A Mystery Tale of Dark Harlem

by Rudolph Fisher
University of Michigan Press (Apr 15, 1992)
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The first known mystery written by an African-American, set in 1930s Harlem




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