Slave Songs And The Birth Of African American Poetry

Paperback | March 15, 2010

byLauri Ramey

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In this insightful and provocative volume, Ramey reveals spirituals and slave songs to be a crucial element in American literature. This book shows slave songs' intrinsic value as lyric poetry, sheds light on their roots and originality, and draws new conclusions on an art form long considered a touchstone of cultural imagination.

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In this insightful and provocative volume, Ramey reveals spirituals and slave songs to be a crucial element in American literature. This book shows slave songs' intrinsic value as lyric poetry, sheds light on their roots and originality, and draws new conclusions on an art form long considered a touchstone of cultural imagination.

Lauri Ramey is Professor of African American Literature and Culture, Creative Writing and American Studies, California State University at Los Angeles. She is the author of Black British Writing, with R. Victoria Arana; Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone: Innovative Poetry by African Americans, with Aldon Lynn Nielsen; and The Heritage Series o...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:216 pages, 9.7 × 5.56 × 0.52 inPublished:March 15, 2010Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230100341

ISBN - 13:9780230100343

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Table of Contents

The Slave Songs and the Lyric Poetry Traditions * The Theology of the Lyric Tradition in the Slave Songs * Slave Songs as American Poetry * Border Crossing with the Slave Songs      

Editorial Reviews

"The corpus of slave songs is enormous, and their impact on African American literature has long been acknowledged. But little has been written about the connection between these songs and American literature. Slave songs are usually marginalized in, or omitted altogether from, literary anthologies and studies of verse. Even classic, if now dated, works examining the songs--including Lawrence Levine's Black Culture and Black Consciousness (CH, Jul'77) and Dena Epstein's Sinful Tunes and Spirituals (CH, Sep'78)--fail to discuss the poetic aspects of the songs. Ramey (CSU, Los Angeles) attempts to fill this glaring void with this erudite yet readable volume. The author provides provocative analyses of some of the individual songs (e.g., "Poor Pilgrim" and "Steal Away"). More importantly, she sheds light on their originality and their African roots, including the call-and-response tradition. In so doing, she makes a strong argument for studying these important pieces in light of their lyric poetic qualities. This is a book for all who are interested in African American literature and in poetry more broadly."--Choice “Slave Songs and the Birth of African American Poetry is an invaluable resource for the American literature classroom. It will make it much easier to teach American poetry and African American poetry in a broader cultural context, and will open up all kinds of interesting new lines of discussion.”--Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Professor of English and Director of American Studies, Stanford University "Ramey argues that spirituals and slave songs are central to the literary legacy of the U.S., both in their own right as a form that goes to the heart of the American experience and as a major reference of the American imagination, through their influence on black and white writers alike. This book restores the spiritual to its rightful place in the American literary canon and will certainly stimulate scholarly interest in the spiritual as art form."--F. Abiola Irele, Harvard University