From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across America

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9781560255000: From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across America

Celebrated novelist, poet, and MacArthur fellow Ishmael Reed pushes the boundaries once again in the publication of From Totems to Hip Hop—a truly all-inclusive multicultural anthology—a literary event which will finally even the playing field. This important collection synthesizes and presents broad swaths of work from poets of all races and backgrounds, as only Reed can, ranging from Gertrude Stein to Ai, from Bessie Smith to Askia Toure, from W. C. Handy to the little-known poetry of Ernest Hemingway. Through his unique position in American letters, as writer, teacher, and even publisher, Reed has an unparalleled working knowledge of many of the more marginalized voices in American poetry. This collection will reflect that unique access by including acknowledged masters as well as lesser known talents in greater variety than any previous anthology. From Totems to Hip Hop will cover American poetry from its pre-Columbian origins to the hip hop lyricists of today and, with the guidance of Reed's thoughtful and provocative introduction and headnotes, trace the remarkably rich cross-pollination which has continually occurred across racial and cultural lines.

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Ishmael Reed, an accomplished and prolific poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, and editor, as well as a teacher and MacArthur fellow, rejects the idea of a narrow and calcified canon of American literature, asking, "Can you imagine where science would be had scientists refused to budge from accepted theories?" Indeed, American poetry is always a work-in-progress, and Reed's in-touch and open-minded approach in From Totems to Hip-Hop yields a dynamic and original anthology, an unprecedented amalgam of poets representing many facets of American culture and society. Even Reed's organizing categories are pertinent and stimulating: nature and place, men and women, family, politics, and heroes and sheroes, anti and otherwise. Within these arenas, readers will find poems by Sylvia Plath, Yusef Komunyajaa, Thulani Davis, Bob Holman, Jayne Cortez, Diane Glancy, Garrett Hongo, Charles Simic, Al Young, Nellie Wong, Tupac Shakur, and many others. Reed then sagely concludes with an invaluable selection of eloquent and challenging manifestos and poetic commentaries. Donna Seaman
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