25 Books Published by Wayne State University Press on AALBC — Book Cover Collage

Click for more detail about That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed the World by Rochelle Riley, and Cristi Smith-Jones That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed the World

by Rochelle Riley, and Cristi Smith-Jones
Wayne State University Press (Feb 02, 2021)
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In February 2017, Rochelle Riley was reading Twitter posts and came across a series of black-and-white photos of four-year-old Lola dressed up as different African American women who had made history. Rochelle was immediately smitten. She was so proud to see this little girl so powerfully honor the struggle and achievement of women several decades her senior. Rochelle reached out to Lola’s mom, Cristi Smith-Jones, and asked to pair her writing with Smith-Jones’s incredible photographs for a book. The goal? To teach children on the cusp of puberty that they could be anything they aspired to be, that every famous person was once a child who, in some cases, overcame great obstacles to achieve.

That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed the World features Riley’s grandson, Caleb, and Lola photographed in timeless black and white, dressed as important individuals such as business owners, educators, civil rights leaders, and artists, alongside detailed biographies that begin with the figures as young children who had the same ambitions, fears, strengths, and obstacles facing them that readers today may still experience. Muhammad Ali’s bike was stolen when he was twelve years old and the police officer he reported the crime to suggested he learn how to fight before he caught up with the thief. Bessie Coleman, the first African American female aviator, collected and washed her neighbors’ dirty laundry so she could raise enough money for college. When Duke Ellington was seven years old, he preferred playing baseball to attending the piano lessons his mom had arranged.

That They Lived fills in gaps in the history that American children have been taught for generations. For African American children, it will prove that they are more than descendants of the enslaved. For all children, it will show that every child can achieve great things and work together to make the world a better place for all.

That They Lived was made possible through a grant provided by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

Click for more detail about Black People Are My Business: Toni Cade Bambara’s Practices of Liberation by Thabiti Lewis Black People Are My Business: Toni Cade Bambara’s Practices of Liberation

by Thabiti Lewis
Wayne State University Press (Sep 08, 2020)
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Black People Are My Business: Toni Cade Bambara’s Practices of Liberation studies the works of Toni Cade Bambara (1939-1995), an author, documentary filmmaker, social activist, and professor. Thabiti Lewis’s analysis serves as a cultural biography, examining the liberation impulses in Bambara’s writing, which is concerned with practices that advance the material value of the African American experience and exploring the introspection between artist production and social justice. This is the first monograph that focuses on Bambara’s unique approach and important literary contribution to 1970s and 1980s African American literature. It explores her unique nationalist, feminist, Marxist, and spiritualist ethos, which cleared space for many innovations found in black women’s fiction.

Divided into five chapters, Lewis’s study relies on Bambara’s voice (from interviews and essays) to craft a “spiritual wholeness aesthetic” — a set of principles that comes out of her practices of liberation and entail family, faith, feeling, and freedom — that reveals her ability to interweave ethnic identity, politics, and community engagement and responsibility with the impetus of balancing black male and female identity influences and interactions within and outside the community. One key feature of Bambara’s work is the concentration on women as cultural workers whereby her notion of spiritual wholeness upends what has become a scholarly distinction between feminism and black nationalism. Bambara’s fiction situates her as a pivotal voice within the Black Arts Movement and contemporary African American literature.

Bambara is an understudied and important artistic voice whose aversion to playing it safe both personified and challenged the boundaries of black nationalism and feminism. Black People Are My Business is a wonderful addition to any reader’s list, especially those interested in African American literary and cultural studies.

Click for more detail about The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery by Rochelle Riley The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery

by Rochelle Riley
Wayne State University Press (Jul 07, 2020)
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The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery is a plea to America to understand what life post-slavery remains like for many African Americans, who are descended from people whose unpaid labor built this land, but have had to spend the last century and a half carrying the dual burden of fighting racial injustice and rising above the lowered expectations and hateful bigotry that attempt to keep them shackled to that past.

The Burden, edited by award-winning Detroit newspaper columnist Rochelle Riley, is a powerful collection of essays that create a chorus of evidence that the burden is real. As Nikole Hannah-Jones states in the book’s foreword;

“despite the fact that black Americans remain at the bottom of every indicator of well-being in this country—from wealth, to poverty, to health, to infant mortality, to graduation rates, to incarceration—we want to pretend that this current reality has nothing to do with the racial caste system that was legally enforced for most of the time the United States of America has existed.”

The Burden expresses the voices of other well-known Americans, such as actor/director Tim Reid who compares slavery to a cancer diagnosis, former Detroit News columnist Betty DeRamus who recounts the discrimination she encountered as a young black Detroiter in the south, and the actress Aisha Hinds who explains how slavery robbed an entire race of value and self-worth. This collection of essays is a response to the false idea that slavery wasn’t so bad and something we should all just “get over.”

The descendants of slaves have spent over 150 years seeking permission to put this burden down. As Riley writes in her opening essay, “slavery is not a relic to be buried, but a wound that has not been allowed to heal. You cannot heal what you do not treat. You cannot treat what you do not see as a problem. And America continues to look the other way, to ask African Americans to turn the other cheek, to suppress our joy, to accept that we are supposed to go only as far as we are allowed.”

The Burden aims to address this problem. It is a must-read for every American.

Click for more detail about come see about me, marvin by Brian Gilmore come see about me, marvin

by Brian Gilmore
Wayne State University Press (Sep 03, 2019)
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come see about me, marvin is accessible, honest poetry about and for real people. In the collection, brian g. gilmore seeks to invite the reader into a fantastical dialogue between himself and Marvin Gaye—two black men who were born in the nation’s capital, but who moved to the Midwest for professional ambitions. In trying to acclimate himself to a new job in a new place—a place that seemed so different from the home he had always known—gilmore often looked to Marvin Gaye as an example for how to be. These poems were derived as a means of coping in a strange land.

The book is divided into four sections, beginning with section one, “love that will shelter you,” and features poems about dealing with life in Michigan as it is in reality. Sections two and three, "nowhere to hide" and "no ordinary pain," include poems about the brutality of the Midwest and some of the historical realities as gilmore came to understand them. The final section, "let your love come shining through," attempts to invoke hope in poetry.

come see about me, marvin is gilmore’s answer to life’s perplexing issues, with Marvin Gaye as the perfect vehicle to explore these ideals. Readers of poetry and lovers of Motown will embrace this love letter to a local legend.


In come see about me, marvin, brian g. gilmore captures everyday wonders like the loneliness interrupted by his mother who arrives to the still-cold Michigan May chill that

crawled up her
spine like snakes scarfing

In this collection, Gilmore reveals a people who moved—moved by music, moved by flavors and food, moved by wintery weather, moved from the South, moved through evictions, moved by words written by Paul Laurence Dunbar and read by the speaker and his best friend Ronnie Beavers when they are too young to understand what the words mean. In fact, as Gilmore writes in another poem,

something about men darker than
chunks of coal kicking around a soccer ball w
a care in the world in one of the coldest places is
His poems are gray watercolor brushwork of Michigan—this bird in hand. He is a migrant bumping into memory. This poetry draws water from dark soil. – V Efua Prince, author of Burnin’ Down the House and Daughter’s Exchange

gilmore’s come see about me, marvin balances the difficult quest through memory and the past through the window of the present. In his characteristic deceptively simple style, gilmore solos and riffs his way through the present and past looking into the heart of one America’s most tragic cities. come see about me, marvin lies somewhere between the taste of food, the gust of wind that comes from good music, and the unpredictable journey through our current difficult times. Readers will see into the heart of music, the heart of the author, and the heart of the Midwest. – Bro. Yao (Hoke S. Glover III), author of Inheritance

In come see about me, marvin, poet gilmore’s literary toolbox is on full display, offering a poetic soundtrack rooted in the African American vernacular tradition, paying homage to the many black writers that help shape the current landscape of contemporary poetry. Through the backdrop of Michigan’s ‘cold winter streets’ and the beautifully written ‘distant lover’ series, influenced by Motown legend Marvin Gaye, the reader is escorted on a journey, exploring the social, political, and economic state of this country while pondering the epiphanous question asked by Gaye in 1971, as in: what’s going on? Gilmore is very aware of the literary shoulders he stands on. Be prepared to be dazzled by a poet in full bloom. – Randall Horton, poet and memoirist

Click for more detail about Black Indian by Shonda Buchanan Black Indian

by Shonda Buchanan
Wayne State University Press (Aug 26, 2019)
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AWARD-WINNING POET Shonda Buchanan honors multiple literary traditions in her breathtaking new memoir, Black Indian. An educator, freelance writer, and literary editor, Buchanan is a culture worker with deep, decades-long engagement in communities of color. Her work honors the complexity and diversity of these Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. At once Indigenous, Black Female, Speculative, Feminist, Womanist, Urban, Southern Gothic, and counter to the Tragic Mulatto stereotype in American literature, stage, and film, Black Indian is a quintessentially American narrative. —Eisa Nefertari Ulen Read the complete review at the Los Angeles Review of Books

“Shonda Buchanan’s Black Indian is chock full with side-eyed women’s voices singing Michigan history through blood quantum and bloodied fists. This is a midwestern testament with family as tattered, taped-up, and wrinkle-worn as all the sepia photos of proud, forgotten kinfolk found hidden in a nation’s neglected attic. Witness her down-to-the-buried-bone American story, written with colors of swamp mud, sky, and blended skin by an author besieged and besotted with the gift of dream-vision. Listen tight and you’ll hear yourself humming along like you’ve always roamed and known this place, this sweat lodged swung low chariot pulsing through your heart, and still you survived.”

Click for more detail about Know the Mother by Desiree Cooper Know the Mother

by Desiree Cooper
Wayne State University Press (Mar 14, 2016)
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While a mother can be defined as a creator, a nurturer, a protector-at the center of each mother is an individual who is attempting to manage her own fears, desires, and responsibilities in different and sometimes unexpected ways. In Know the Mother, author Desiree Cooper explores the complex archetype of the mother in all of her incarnations. In a collage of meditative stories, women-both black and white-find themselves wedged between their own yearnings and their roles as daughters, sisters, grandmothers, and wives.In this heart-wrenching collection, Cooper reveals that gender and race are often unanticipated interlopers in family life. An anxious mother reflects on her prenatal fantasies of suicide while waiting for her daughter to come home late one night. A lawyer miscarries during a conference call and must proceed as though nothing has happened. On a rare night out with her husband, a new mother tries convincing herself that everything is still the same. A politician’s wife’s thoughts turn to slavery as she contemplates her own escape: "Even Harriet Tubman had realized that freedom wasn’t worth the price of abandoning her family, so she’d come back home. She’d risked it all for love." With her lyrical and carefully crafted prose, Cooper’s stories provide truths without sermon and invite empathy without sentimentality.Know the Mother explores the intersection of race and gender in vignettes that pull you in and then are gone in an instant. Readers of short fiction will appreciate this deeply felt collection.

Click for more detail about The Colored Car by Jean Alicia Elster The Colored Car

by Jean Alicia Elster
Wayne State University Press (Sep 13, 2013)
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In The Colored Car, Jean Alicia Elster, author of the award-winning Who’s Jim Hines?, follows another member of the Ford family coming of age in Depression-era Detroit. In the hot summer of 1937, twelve-year-old Patsy takes care of her three younger sisters and helps her mother put up fresh fruits and vegetables in the family’s summer kitchen, adjacent to the wood yard that her father, Douglas Ford, owns. Times are tough, and Patsy’s mother, May Ford, helps neighborhood families by sharing the food that she preserves. But May’s decision to take a break from canning to take her daughters for a visit to their grandmother’s home in Clarksville, Tennessee, sets in motion a series of events that prove to be life-changing for Patsy.

After boarding the first-class train car at Michigan Central Station in Detroit and riding comfortably to Cincinnati, Patsy is shocked when her family is led from their seats to change cars. In the dirty, cramped "colored car," Patsy finds that the life she has known in Detroit is very different from life down south, and she can hardly get the experience out of her mind when she returns home-like the soot stain on her finely made dress or the smear on the quilt squares her grandmother taught her to sew. As summer wears on, Patsy must find a way to understand her experience in the colored car and also deal with the more subtle injustices that her family faces in Detroit. By the end of the story, Patsy will never see the world in the same way that she did before.

Elster’s engaging narrative illustrates the personal impact of segregation and discrimination and reveals powerful glimpses of everyday life in 1930s Detroit. For young readers interested in American history, The Colored Car is engrossing and informative reading.

Click for more detail about From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle-Class Performances by Vershawn Ashanti Young From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle-Class Performances

by Vershawn Ashanti Young
Wayne State University Press (Apr 15, 2011)
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In From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle-Class Performances, editor Vershawn Ashanti Young and assistant editor Bridget Harris Tsemo collect a diverse assortment of pieces that examine the generational shift in the perception of the black middle class, from the serious moniker of "bourgeois" to the more playful, sardonic "boojie." Including such senior cultural workers as Amiri Baraka and Houston Baker, as well as younger scholars like Damion Waymer and Candice Jenkins, this significant collection contains essays, poems, visual art, and short stories that examine the complex web of representations that define the contemporary black middle class.

Young opens the book with a critical introduction that looks at the articulation of class and race as a mode of performing U.S. citizenship. In four thematic parts-Performing Responsibility, Performing Womanhood, Performing Media, and Performing Sexuality-contributors explore different aspects of middle-class blackness. Acknowledging that the black middle class could never be depicted satisfactorily by one genre or from one perspective, contributors include pieces as varied as drawings by Iowa artist Jean Berry; self-reflexive commentaries from cultural critics Bryant Keith Alexander, Houston Baker, Dwight McBride, and Greg Tate; a short story by novelist Venise Berry; and cultural critiques by scholars Harilaos Stecopoulos and Angela Nelson. The volume also contains a thoughtful foreword by performance artist and scholar E. Patrick Johnson and an astute afterword by sociologist Mary Pattillo.

The journey from bourgeois to boojie embraces the long journey of African Americans from the cotton field and the assembly line to the corporate conference table and the White House. This insightful and diverse volume will be relevant to scholars of performance studies, African American studies, American literature, performative writing, and sociology, as well as creative writers and those interested in contemporary political discourse on race.

Click for more detail about Roses and Revolutions: The Selected Writings of Dudley Randall by Melba Joyce Boyd Roses and Revolutions: The Selected Writings of Dudley Randall

by Melba Joyce Boyd
Wayne State University Press (Aug 18, 2009)
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Dudley Randall was one of the foremost voices in African American literature during the twentieth century, best known for his poetry and his work as the editor and publisher of Broadside Press in Detroit. While he published six books of poetry during his life, much of his work is currently out of print or fragmented among numerous anthologies. Roses and Revolutions: The Selected Writings of Dudley Randall brings together his most popular poems with his lesser-known short stories, first published in The Negro Digest during the 1960s, and several of his essays, which profoundly influenced the direction and attitude of the Black Arts movement. Roses and Revolutions: The Selected Writings of Dudley Randall is arranged in seven sections: "Images from Black Bottom," "Wars: At Home and Abroad," "The Civil Rights Era," "Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects," "Love Poems," "Dialectics of the Black Aesthetic," and "The Last Leap of the Muse." Poems and prose are mixed throughout the volume and are arranged roughly chronologically. Taken as a whole, Randall’s writings showcase his skill as a wordsmith and his affinity for themes of love, human contradictions, and political action. His essays further contextualize his work by revealing his views on race and writing, aesthetic form, and literary and political history. Editor Melba Joyce Boyd introduces this collection with an overview of Randall’s life and career. The collected writings in Roses and Revolutions not only confirm the talent and the creative intellect of Randall as an author and editor but also demonstrate why his voice remains relevant and impressive in the twenty-first century. Randall was named the first Poet Laureate of the City of Detroit and received numerous awards for his literary work, including the Life Achievement Award from the National Endowment of the Arts in 1986. Students and teachers of African American literature as well as readers of poetry will appreciate this landmark volume.

Click for more detail about Who’s Jim Hines? by Jean Alicia Elster Who’s Jim Hines?

by Jean Alicia Elster
Wayne State University Press (Jul 08, 2008)
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Who’s Jim Hines? is a story based on real events about Douglas Ford Jr., a twelve-year-old African American boy growing up in Detroit in the 1930s. Doug’s father owns the Douglas Ford Wood Company, and Doug usually helps his dad around the scrap wood yard located in the side lot next to their house. But after Doug loses his school textbooks one day he is faced with the prospect of paying for new books and must join his father in the backbreaking work of delivering wood throughout the city and suburbs. Doug, who knows all of his father’s delivery drivers, takes this opportunity to unravel the mystery of a man named Jim Hines whom he always hears about but has never seen. In discovering Hines’s identity, Doug also learns much about the realities of racism in Depression-era Detroit.

As she tells Doug’s story, author Jean Alicia Elster incorporates rich descriptions of daily life, including glimpses into Detroit’s auto factories and unions, northern-style segregation, and color distinctions within the African American community. Elster also introduces readers to the Fords’ neighborhood, a racially mixed community of Eastern European immigrants and southern blacks.

Readers from the ages of eight through twelve will enjoy the entertaining and educational story in Who’s Jim Hines?

Click for more detail about Dear Chester, Dear John by John A. Williams and Lori Williams Dear Chester, Dear John

by John A. Williams and Lori Williams
Wayne State University Press (Feb 08, 2008)
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Chester Himes and John A. Williams met in 1961, as Himes was on the cusp of transcontinental celebrity and Williams, sixteen years his junior, was just beginning his writing career. Both men would go on to receive international acclaim for their work, including Himes’s Harlem detective novels featuring Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson and Williams’s major novels The Man Who Cried I Am, Captain Blackman, and Clifford’s Blues. Dear Chester, Dear John is a landmark collection of correspondence between these two friends, presenting nearly three decades worth of letters about their lives and loves, their professional and personal challenges, and their reflections on society in the United States and abroad.

Prepared by John A. Williams and his wife, Lori, this collection contains rare and personal glimpses into the lives of Williams and Himes between 1962 and 1987. As the writers find increasing professional success and recognition, they share candid assessments of each others’ work and also discuss the numerous pitfalls they faced as African American writers in the publishing world. The letters offer a window into Himes’s and Williams’s personalities, as the elder writer reveals his notoriously difficult and suspicious streak, and Williams betrays both immense affection and frustration in dealing with his old friend. Despite several rifts in their relationship, Williams’s concern for Himes’s failing health ensured that the two kept in touch until Himes’s death.

Dear Chester, Dear John is a heartfelt and informative collection that allows readers to step behind the scenes of a lifelong friendship between two important literary figures. Students and teachers of African American literature will enjoy this one-of-a-kind volume.

Click for more detail about Blue-Tail Fly by Vievee Francis Blue-Tail Fly

by Vievee Francis
Wayne State University Press (Mar 21, 2006)
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The title of Blue-Tail Fly comes from an antebellum song commonly known as "Jimmy Crack Corn." The blue-tail fly is a supposedly insignificant creature that bites the horse that bucks and kills the master. In this collection, poet Vievee Francis gives voice to "outsiders"-from soldiers and common folk to leading political figures-who play the role of the blue-tail fly in the period of American history between the Mexican American War and the Civil War. Through a diverse range of styles, characters, and emotions, Francis’s poems consider the demands of war, protest and resistance to it, and the cross-cultural exchanges of wartime. More than a narrowly themed text, Blue-Tail Fly is a book of balances, weighing the give-and-take of people and cultures in the arena of war. For lovers of poetry and those interested in American history, Blue-Tail Fly will illustrate the complexities of the American past and future.

Click for more detail about What Mama Said: An Epic Drama (African American Life Series) by Osonye Tess Onwueme What Mama Said: An Epic Drama (African American Life Series)

by Osonye Tess Onwueme
Wayne State University Press (Jun 01, 2003)
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Renowned playwright Osonye Tess Onwueme’s powerful new drama illuminates the effect of national and global oil politics on the lives of impoverished rural Nigerians. What Mama Said is set in the metaphorical state of Sufferland, whose people are starving and routinely exploited and terrorized by corrupt government officials and multinational oil companies-that is, until a voice erupts and moves the wounded women and youths to rise up and demand justice. Onwueme’s powerful characters and vibrant, emotionally charged scenes bring to life a turbulent movement for change and challenge to tradition. Aggrieved youths and militant women-whose husbands and sons work in the refineries or have been slaughtered in the violent struggle-take center stage to "drum" their pain in this drama about revolution. Determined to finally confront the multinational forces that have long humiliated them, Sufferland villagers burn down pipelines and kidnap an oil company director. Tensions peak, and activist leaders are put on trial before a global jury that can no longer ignore the situation. What Mama Said is a moving portrayal of the battle for human rights, dignity, compensation, and the right of a nation’s people to control the resources of their own land.

Click for more detail about Liberation Memories: The Rhetoric And Poetics Of John Oliver Killens (African American Life Series) by Keith Gilyard Liberation Memories: The Rhetoric And Poetics Of John Oliver Killens (African American Life Series)

by Keith Gilyard
Wayne State University Press (Apr 01, 2003)
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No serious history of the development of the African American novel from the 1950s onward can be written without reference to John Oliver Killens. A two-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize and founding chairman of the legendary Harlem Writers Guild, Killens was regarded by many as a spiritual father who inspired a generation of African American novelists with his politically charged works. And yet today he rarely receives proper critical attention. Seeking to strengthen our understanding of this important literary figure, Keith Gilyard departs from standard critical frameworks to reveal Killens’s novels as artful renderings of rich African American rhetorical forms and verbal traditions. Gilyard finds that many critics, adhering to ideals of art for art’s sake or narrative conciseness, are ill-equipped to appreciate the many ways in which Killens’s fiction succeeds. Rejecting the "pure art" position, Killens sought to articulate Black heroism particularly within a family or community context, offering a set of values he deemed liberatory. He focused on rendering noble and polemical characters, and his work represents a distinguished fusion of sociopolitical persuasion (rhetoric) and literary artifact (poetics). To help illuminate such novels as Youngblood (1954), And Then We Heard the Thunder (1962), and The Cotillion (1971), Gilyard examines Killens’s work as an essayist and cultural organizer, highlighting his activism. His life and literary production can be partly characterized, Gilyard suggests, by the African American jeremiad-a major rhetorical form in the Black intellectual tradition expressing faith that America’s destiny is to become an authentic, pluralistic democracy.

Click for more detail about Looking Within/Mirar adentro: Selected Poems/Poemas escogidos, 1954-2000 by Nancy Morejón Looking Within/Mirar adentro: Selected Poems/Poemas escogidos, 1954-2000

by Nancy Morejón
Wayne State University Press (Dec 01, 2002)
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The African Cuban poet Nancy Morejón set out at a young age to explore the beauty and complexities of the life around and within her. Themes of social and political concern, loyalty, friendship and family, African identity, women’s experiences, and hope for Cuba’s future all found their way into her poems through bold metaphor and tender lyricism. This panoramic anthology, selected from ten volumes of Morejón’s work and organized by theme, contains some poems that have already been acclaimed in several languages, others that are less known, and some never before published. Overall they present to Morejón’s readership an enhanced, broader, and updated spectrum of her poetry in a Spanish-English edition.Although Morejón does not sympathize as much with intellectualized feminism as with "street" feminism (the kind that erupts with force as it confronts daily life), her poems illuminate issues in women’s existence. Without intending to, she has revitalized contemporary Caribbean feminist literary discourse. One can find in her work the tensions between colonizer and colonized, dominator and dominated, and at the same time enjoy the sheer beauty of images depicting suffering, strength, and hope.

Click for more detail about Abandon Automobile: Detroit City Poetry 2001 by Melba Joyce Boyd Abandon Automobile: Detroit City Poetry 2001

by Melba Joyce Boyd
Wayne State University Press (Sep 01, 2001)
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Do poets’ surroundings shape their viewpoint and work? Abandon Automobile seeks to address this question by bringing together the work of more than one hundred of Detroit’s most acclaimed and accessible poets. Writing about location as if it were a living entity, these poets visualize Detroit as a variety of complex archetypes-the city becomes a savior, a beast, a nurturing mother, a seductress, a friend, an enemy. Like the city itself, the poetry represented is diverse and the poems are by turns tender, forceful, introspective, and vital. In the introduction to the volume, Melba Joyce Boyd and M. L. Liebler show how Detroit’s poetry scene has changed over the years to embrace political movements and cultural transformations. Readers will find that one doesn’t need to be a Detroit native to enjoy the many themes of this anthology. The exciting range of voices represented in this collection will appeal to anyone interested in poetry, regional literature, and urban life.

Click for more detail about Arthur Alfonso Schomburg: Black Bibliophile & Collector by Elinor Des Verney Sinnette Arthur Alfonso Schomburg: Black Bibliophile & Collector

by Elinor Des Verney Sinnette
Wayne State University Press (Sep 05, 2000)
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This is the first full biography of the pioneering black collector whose detective work laid the foundation for the study of black history and culture. Born in Puerto Rico in 1874, Arthur Alfonso Schomburg came to New York militantly active in Caribbean revolutionary struggles. He searched out the hidden records of the black experience and built a collection of books, manuscripts, and art that had few rivals. Today it forms the core of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture, one of the leading collections in the field.

At the center of the Harlem Renaissance, Schomburg was a generous friend of many of the writers, artists, performers, collectors, scholars, and political figures who made Harlem the capital of Black America. A contributor to the major black journals of the period, he went on to head the Negro Collection at Fisk University and became curator of his own collection in the New York Public Library until his death in 1938.

Click for more detail about Tell It to Women: An Epic Drama for Women (African American Life Series) by Osonye Tess Onwueme Tell It to Women: An Epic Drama for Women (African American Life Series)

by Osonye Tess Onwueme
Wayne State University Press (Mar 01, 1997)
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Using the magic of movement, dance, and drama, and the devices of humor and metaphor, Osonye Tess Onwueme has created a post-feminist epic drama that transcends current feminist theories. An ideologically and politically powerful work, Tell It to Women offers a critical discourse on the western feminist movement from an African traditional perspective, focusing attention on the often silenced issues of intra-gender politics and class inequities.

Click for more detail about Let’s Flip the Script: An African American Discourse on Language, Literature, and Learning by Keith Gilyard Let’s Flip the Script: An African American Discourse on Language, Literature, and Learning

by Keith Gilyard
Wayne State University Press (Oct 01, 1996)
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In Let’s Flip the Script, respected poet and essayist Keith Gilyard broadens the debate about language and education. Fusing insights derived from practical experience with knowledge drawn from an impressive and interdisciplinary array of texts, he examines-always with an eye on the state of
African America-connections among language, politics, expressive culture, and pedagogy. This book is a rousing contribution to the African American intellectual tradition.

Click for more detail about Letters to America: Contemporary American Poetry on Race by Jim Daniels Letters to America: Contemporary American Poetry on Race

by Jim Daniels
Wayne State University Press (Dec 01, 1995)
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Letters to America features the work of poets who have had the courage to write about race with honesty and passion. Speakign from the experience of Black, Native American, Asian, Arabic, Indian, Hispanic, and white culture, their diverse voices unite in a dialogue of poems which acknowledge and celebrate our differences while exploring America’s shameful history of racial intolerance. The poets in this anthology include Gwendolyn Brooks, Charles Bukowski, Joy Harjo, Langstong Hughes, Sharon Olds, James Wright, Etheridge Knight, Gary Soto, Garrett Kaoru Hongo, Audre Lorde, David Ignatwo, and others.

Click for more detail about Discarded Legacy: Politics and Poetics in the Life of Frances E. W. Harper, 1825-1911 by Melba Joyce Boyd Discarded Legacy: Politics and Poetics in the Life of Frances E. W. Harper, 1825-1911

by Melba Joyce Boyd
Wayne State University Press (Jun 01, 1994)
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Frances E. W. Harper is a central figure in the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century African-American literature and intellectual thought. The foremost poet of the "free colored community," she was also a lecturer,
educator, essayist, and novelist. A prolific champion of the abolitionist and feminist causes, she has come to be recognized for the critical role she played in the rise of the women’s movement, particularly in the development of the black women’s movement. Yet neither her art nor her political insight was preserved by subsequent generations until recently.In this important study, poet Melba Joyce Boyd analyzes Harper not simply as a feminist and an activist, but as a writer. Boyd reads her in context, placing Harper’s life, poetry, novels, and speeches within the nineteenth century African-American quest for
"freedom and literacy."Harper’s genius is illuminated as Boyd traces her radicalism through her struggles with issues of race, gender, and class, and the other personal and social injustices she
confronted. Discarded Legacy comprises three parts: "The Abolitionist Years," "The Pursuit of the Promised Land," and "The Woman’s Era." These divisions characterize the thrust of the historical periods which encompass Harper’s lifetime and the thematic
focus of her writings. Though Harper’s primary political emphasis is on slavery and the Reconstruction, she sustains a strong feminist voice throughout these times and in all of her writings. Likewise, during the women’s era, she maintains an anti-racist stance and strongly criticizes racism in white
feminist politics.Boyd’s response to Harper’s work is interactive and improvisational, and whenever possible, she maintains Harper’s voice, allowing her to speak about her own work. When analyzing Harper’s language, Boyd provides insight into Harper’s aesthetic by
discussing the writings thematically and structurally within a biographical framework. Finally, by examining Harper’s use of traditional poetic techniques, language, oral tradition forms, and other tools, Boyd
demonstrates how Harper’s art and politics are synthesized into a dynamic whole.This book weaves Harper’s radical vision with the intuitive and analytical dimensions of her imagination and language. Through perceptive explication of Harper’s writings and
consideration of her thematic inclinations and political and social affiliations, Boyd is able to show how Harper crafted her subjects and how the literature and speeches interrelated
in theme and historical experience. Boyd has successfully arranged Harper’s work in a manner that connects our present to Harper’s past and that re-envisions her consciousness.

Click for more detail about Three Plays: The Broken Calabash / Parables for a Season / The Reign of Wazobia (African American Life ) by Osonye Tess Onwueme Three Plays: The Broken Calabash / Parables for a Season / The Reign of Wazobia (African American Life )

by Osonye Tess Onwueme
Wayne State University Press (Sep 01, 1993)
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This anthology of plays by Tess Onwueme, one of the bright new literary artists in contemporary drama, allows a glimpse into the lives of the people of Onwueme’s native Nigeria and reveals the range and beauty of Nigerian culture. At the same time, Three Plays sheds light on the reality of the human condition and the conflicts that arise between the individual and society.

Click for more detail about Voices Of The Self: A Study Of Language Competence (African American Life Series) by Keith Gilyard Voices Of The Self: A Study Of Language Competence (African American Life Series)

by Keith Gilyard
Wayne State University Press (Jul 01, 1991)
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A unique blend of memoir and scholarship, Keith Gilyard’s Voices of the Self is a penetrating analysis of the linguistic and cultural "collision" experienced by African-American students in the public education system. Gilyard examines black students "negotiate" their way through school and discusses the tension between the use of Black English and Standard English, underlining how that tension is representative of the deeper conflict that exists between black culture and white expectations. Vivid descriptions-often humorous, sometimes disturbing, always moving-of Gilyard’s own childhood experiences in school and society are interlaced with chapters of solid sociolinguistic scholarship. Encompassing the perspectives of both the "street" and the "academy," Voices of the Self presents an eloquent argument for cultural and linguistic pluralism in American public schools.

Click for more detail about Great Black Russian: A Novel On The Life And Times Of Alexander Pushkin (African American Life) by John Oliver Killens Great Black Russian: A Novel On The Life And Times Of Alexander Pushkin (African American Life)

by John Oliver Killens
Wayne State University Press (Sep 01, 1989)
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Alexander Pushkin was born into nineteenth-century czarist Russia at a time when the state and the church were supreme. The aristocracy was enamored of French culture and peasants were little more than slaves. The literati generally regarded the Russian language as ill fit for creative expression until Pushkin proved otherwise. His writing challenged the authority of the czar while his own wanton values gave rise to troubling guilt. Yet in his short and tumultuous lifetime, Pushkin rose to great prominence as Russia’s most important poet and literary figure. In Great Black Russian, John Oliver Killens renders a sweeping fictional account of Alexander Pushkin, drawing on the conflicts, both internal and external, that continually assailed him. Of particular significance is Pushkin’s African heritage on his mother’s side. His great-grandfather, Ibrahim Hannibal, was an Ethiopian prince captured as a youth by Turks. Acquired not long after by the czar as an adornment for his court, the young man became known as "the Negro of Peter the Great" and was eventually named a general in the czar’s army. Under the ancestral tutelage of his beloved maternal grandmother, Pushkin took pride in his African lineage. Yet he was ever conscious that it relegated him to the margins of society. Moreover, Pushkin suffered genuine emotional abuse at the hand of his mother for being the darkest, most Africanoid of her four children. Other tensions were also at play in Pushkin. His antagonism toward the absolute power of the czar, expressed in his earlier works led to surveillance and censorship by the government and contributed to his love-hate relationship with his homeland. His heavy drinking and excessive womanizing troubled him since this aristocratic profligacy conflicted with his desire for social reform. His wife’s well-known love affair with a young Frenchman precipitated a duel that ended his life. Killens weaves all of this into his compelling narrative to present a Pushkin whose varied feelings range from compassion and concern for others to bouts of depression and despair. Part Russian, part African, a poet, and a womanizer, the Alexander Pushkin of Killen’s Great Black Russian romances change, revolution, and danger and yet in his interior turmoil withdraws into the realm of dreams and fantasy.

Click for more detail about The Spook Who Sat by the Door by Sam Greenlee The Spook Who Sat by the Door

by Sam Greenlee
Wayne State University Press (May 01, 1989)
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A classic in the black literary tradition, The Spook Who Sat by the Door is both a comment on the civil rights problems in the United States in the late 60s and a serious attempt to focus on the issue of black militancy. Dan Freeman, the "spook who sat by the door," is enlisted in the CIA’s elitist espionage program. Upon mastering agency tactics, however, he drops out to train young Chicago blacks as "Freedom Fighters" in this explosive, award-winning novel. As a story of one man’s reaction to ruling-class hypocrisy, the book is autobiographical and personal. As a tale of a man’s reaction to oppression, it is universal. A publication in the African American Life series.