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Making Callaloo: 25 Years of Black Literature. (anthologies).

Making Callaloo: 25 Years
of Black Literature
edited by Charles Henry Rowell
foreword by Pervical Everett
and afterword by Carl Phillips
St. Martins Press, January 2002
$17.95, ISBN 0-312-28898-0


"What makes for a lasting poem," says Carl Phillips in his postscript to Making Callaloo, "Is ... not so much its ability to stand out from the rest, but it's inability not to." Giving name to Phillips's assessment, Callaloo has held court for the past quarter-century as the top-tier of literary journals of the African diaspora in the minds of the black literary and academic elite. It is precisely this luminous quality--scattered liberally throughout 480 pages--that makes any brief, cursory treatment of this collection nearly impossible.

What Rowell--Callaloo's founder and editor, and a widely published poet and writer in his own right--has delivered is a study in excellence, from a variety of aesthetic viewpoints, in the most recent tradition of African-American literature. Selecting representative works from established and up-and-coming artists including Octavia Butler, Edwidge Danticat, Ralph Ellison, Thomas Glave, Gayl Jones, Randall Kenan, Terry McMillan, John Edgar Wideman, Elizabeth Alexander, Audre Lorde, Toi Derricotte, Yusef Komunyakaa, Clarence Major, Sonia Sanchez and Alice Walker among others.

Concentrating on fiction and poetry--Callaloo generally includes visual art, drama and nonfiction prose as well--Rowell sought to "represent certain kinds of artistic achievements that I judge particularly extraordinary." This collection not only meets but exceeds the high expectations Rowell set for Callaloo in the days of its founding, when he worked to create a space for African-American and African diasporic literature outside the sometimes polarizing political movements that birthed the popular black poetry movements of the 1960s and 70s.

--Samiya Bashir is a BIBR contributor.
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Author:Bashir, Samiya
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2002
Words:279
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