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The Black Poets

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  384 ratings  ·  34 reviews
"The claim of The Black Poets to being... an anthology is that it presents the full range of Black-American poetry, from the slave songs to the present day. It is important that folk poetry be included because it is the root and inspiration of later, literary poetry. Not only does this book present the full range of Black poetry, but it presents most poets in depths, and ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 1st 1985 by Bantam (first published December 1st 1971)
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Average rating 4.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  384 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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B. P. Rinehart
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of lyrics
"O black and unknown bards of long ago,
How came your lips to touch the sacred fire?
How, in your darkness, did you come to know
The power and beauty of the minstrel’s lyre?
Who first from midst his bonds lifted his eyes?
Who first from out the still watch, lone and long,
Feeling the ancient faith of prophets rise
Within his dark-kept soul, burst into song?
" - first stanza of James Weldon Johnson's "O Black and Unknown Bards."

If only I knew how to better praise such a marvelous book! This is the best
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars – I wish I could give this book 5 stars; it’s a great anthology of black poets including poems from my old favourites, such as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and James Weldon Johnson, and also introducing me to some “new” poets such as Naomi Madgett, Mari Evans and Claude McKay. The range of poetry is great, and it covers a large period of time. However, I couldn’t give it a full rating for a number of reasons. Firstly, I just couldn’t get into the folk poetry; the dialect just ...more
Sarabi Eventide
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely LOVED this anthology. If i could choose one book to summarize everything I've learned and experienced growing up as a black woman in America, it would be this book. I highly recommend it to any one who is interested in poetry or black art.

Before I started the book, I read a few reviews bemoaning the racial undertones of the poetry, but I took those reviews with a grain of salt for a number of reasons:
1) A good portion of recent black history involves race politics.
2) The book was
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed this collection, there was a satisfying array of work, including folk songs and spirituals. Not everything was my cup of tea, and some of these works are definitely a product of their time, but I think they help illustrate political and cultural climate, which is quite interesting.
Angélique (Angel)
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, black-lit
This is one of the greatest collections of poetry I've ever read, because it is more than just a collection of well-written pieces. It is a journey through Black culture in America going all the way from the folk songs of the early slaves to the raw political no-shit-taking poems of writers in the seventies. It shows the assimilation, the rebellion, the adjustment, and the upheaval needed to survive as a poet in a land that would rather you shut up then speak out and write down. It highlights ...more
May 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book has been on my bookshelf since just before college and for good reason. The experience of studying poetry in high school would have been transformed if this book were one of its texts.

I flip through the pages over and over again, reviewing old familiars and finding new gems. The collected poems span such a long period that it provides for a literary study of the progression of Black expression in a land both hostile and available.

Reviewing the works of such great writers as Langston
Jessica Holter
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone, esecially young people
Recommended to Jessica by: A Teacher at Howard University
The Black Poets: One of my favorite books to study! If you need to familiarize yourself with the work of great poets like Langston Hughes, buy this book. If you want to get to the heart of a Black Man like Etheridge Knight, (You know the brotha you don't want standing behind you at the ATM machine) study this book. If you want to have a great time, running through many black minds form many time periods in american history...The Black Poets has it for you. I refer to this book often, opening it, ...more
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This is an excellent anthology. It begins with a section of “Folk Poetry” (broken into “Folk Seculars” and “Spirituals”), then moves to Literary Poetry (broken into “The Forerunners,” “Harlem Renaissance,” “Post-Renaissance,” and “The Nineteen Sixties”). Within these time periods, Randall has selected poets representing a variety of styles, and the poems he has chosen often showcase multiple sides of the same poet. There were many poets I knew included in the anthology, but also many I was ...more
Paul Swanson
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
An epic collection.
Mari Evans and Sonia Sanchez are new-to-me standouts.

"summary" by Sonia Sanchez

no sleep tonight
not even after all
the red and green pills
i have pumped into
my stuttering self or
the sweet wine
that drowns them.
this is
a poem for the world
for the slow suicides
in seclusion.
somewhere on 130th st.
a woman, frail as a
child’s ghost sings. oh.
oh. what
can the matter be? johnny’s
so long at the fair.
/ i learned how
to masturbate
thru the new york times.
i thought
shd i have
thought anything
Kevin Dufresne
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I hope all is progressing well.

The Black Poets is an anthology of Black American poetry edited by Dudley Randall. All-in-all the text is profound. I read so many varying poems by some persons I have never even heard of that are not only potent--but timeless, of which I am very grateful to have come to encounter through The Black Poets.

Onward and Upward,
Kevin Dufresne
I enjoyed the structure of the book and how it deliberately pulled pieces from the same periods to craft the story of Black poetry. I also appreciated the wide range of work and poets featured, some familiar and many not. Spanning multiple perspectives over decades of time made for an introspective read and reframed my understanding of poetry from the perspective of Black women and men.
Delia Marrero
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is where I first read a poem by Langston Hughes. I love this collection.
Dec 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book in many ways. The fact that the poems were written in a time where being black seemed to be only a place of sorrow, pain, endurance and perseverance, they still found the courage to wake up everyday and treat it as normal (because it was... for them) but amazingly they discovered humor humor too.

We change era's, caliber's of people change and whether simple or highly intellectual this book proved that profoundness can be in everything. This book is in my collection to keep
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thought it was very interesting how the theme was racism. It showed the black perspective on their place in the world. The book explores through song and poetry to show how racism in culture has not changed much at all. In the poem "Dinner Guest; Me," the author describes himself as "the black" problem. This book is good for middle schoolers and above, showing how the world is constantly in problems. People would benefit by rereading this book as they move on in life.
May 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I appreciated that this book of poetry was a glimpse at the heart of the black community. I was moved by the voice of raw honesty, confusion, rebellion, and pride that came forth from this text that Randall compiled. I also like that this highlighted poetry from various periods in African-American History. Very insightful.

"Quadroom mermaids, Afro angels, black saints
balanced upon the switchblade of that air
and sang." - Robert Hayden (A Ballad of Remembrance)
Tiffany~are there TWINS in it?
Of all of the poets my favorite is STEPHANY, but I also enjoyed the poems of Dudley Randall, Mari Evans, Naomi Madgett, Carolyn M. Rodgers, Larry Neal, Ishmael Reed, Yusef Iman, and Don L. Lee. If you enjoy poems it's worth a read, and if you don't want to read all of it, at least give these poets a try.
Alex Wildes
Jun 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is a wonderful collection of poetry by some of the country's most well known black poets and some not so well known. It takes the reader thru a time when racism and segregation was the norm, Black Pride was at a all time high and the average person was very politically in touch young and old.
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love the diversity in the poets work.
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Randall has done an excellent job of blending the voices of souls from past to present. The beauty of this choir-like compilation consists of light and darkness, of suffering and joy. It's earned a permanent spot in my library.
Jasmine Roberson
although this is not a childrens book. i think it would be useful in a classroom of fouth and fifth graders the teacher would have to look at the book. but could ask students to reflect on the words. black histoyr- poety- creative writing
Kenneth Jenkins
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I first read this book while in college.
Kameron Brown
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Love this.

It has everyone one you could want from Langston Hughes, to June Jordan to Ishmael Reed. I really love the selections and diversity of these poems as well.
Doris Raines
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
This. Is. A. Nice. Book.
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I am not generally the biggest fan of Poetry anthologies, However this is one of the best ones I've ever read. It shows such a wide range of amazing works.
Mariposa Fernandez
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
I discovered this book at a tender age. It made me know I was a poet.
R.K. Byers
Oct 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
this was actually GREAT.
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, black-studies
Excellent. I wish the typical American education in poetry went beyond Eurocentric culture/standards of literature and included books like this and more.
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: popsugar-2016
Task: A book of poetry - 4/5 stars
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book of poetry! My how amazing and talented are these poets that have captured time through words and poetry!
Damnyo Lee
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the most important book every Black poet should read.
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