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Poetry From the Masters: the Pioneers.

Edited by Wade Hudson Just Us Books, December 2003 $9.95; ISBN 0-940-97596-3

A sweeping overview of African American men and women who made significant early contributions to the American poetry canon, this is a concise young adult primer. The collection is organized chronologically and features the work of Phillis Wheatley, Frances Ellen Harper, James Weldon Johnson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Claude McKay, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Margaret Walker and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Each poet's work is introduced with a two page biographical statement that provides significant historical data. It also does an excellent job of placing the poet in the context of African American poetry. An abbreviated discussion of the historical concerns of the use of dialect and other subjects provides a running point of reference from poet to poet.

While many well-known poems are included, the collection is sprinkled with surprises. This first of a three-book series is not only a children's anthology, but also an excellent introduction to the canon for anyone new to the genre or in need of a brief refresher. With beautiful, unobtrusive illustrations provided by Stephan J. Hudson, this collection can enhance any library.

Jacqueline Jones LaMon is a poet and writer.
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Author:LaMon, Jacqueline Jones
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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