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Poetry for all times.

times like this are times when black people are with each other & the strength flows back & forth between us like borrowed breath.

--From "When Black People Are" By A. B. Spellman

Poetry in black America today is thriving. Part of our mission at Black Issues Book Review is to chronicle this cultural bounty. This is our seventh annual poetry issue, and we join with publications and organizations across the country to celebrate National Poetry Month in April.

The lines quoted above were published in 1969 when black poetry was incredibly vibrant. (It comes from The Black Poets: A New Anthology Edited by Dudley Randall, reissued by Bantam Books, ISBN 0-553-12474-9.) For me, it captures the energy in the world of poetry now, the interchange between brilliant innovators and eager readers and listeners, as during the Black Arts Movement. The tremendous interest in poetry today is stirred by the range of writers creating verse, from celebrities like our cover subject Alicia Keys to the thousands of South Carolinians who entered their state newspaper's poetry contest. See "Star Poets and Poet Stars" by poet-on-the-rise Samantha Thornhill, page 26 and "South Carolina: The Poetry State" by poet and teacher Camille Dungy, page 28."

Add to this very democratic creative output, the encouragement of organizations as determined as the Soul Mountain Writer's Retreat 'see page 30' and support from the wealthy United States government and, indeed, "strength flows" The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded literary fellowships to four black male poets [see "NEA Awards Four Brothers in Verse" page 34], a confirmation of brilliant work by these poets of African descent and an important recognition of the poetic currency of black culture. Our review pages showcase rich, new offerings by black literary poets: Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, E. Ethelbert Miller, Sonia Sanchez and Kevin Young. Our team has also made sure Complete Poems: Claude McKay 'see page 32' receives the attention such a library-cornerstone volume deserves.

Without our poetry editor, Quraysh Ali Lansana, a gifted poet (They Shall Run: Harriet Tubman Poems, Third World Press, April 2004, ISBN 0-883-78257-X), we could not possibly have identified the energy of African Americans in the poetry community and assembled such a skilled group of reviewers and poet-cum-journalists. We are deeply indebted to him, and to his growing family for loaning him to BIBR during his long hours reading volumes, assigning reviews, editing copy, and being our conduit to the international poetry community. Our gratitude to him is only exceeded by our highest esteem.

We trust the poetry, along with our fiction and nonfiction book coverage, will make this issue "borrowed breath" for you. Enjoy!

William E. Cox President/Editor-in-Chief
COPYRIGHT 2005 Cox, Matthews & Associates
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:from the editor-in-chief
Author:Cox, William F.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2005
Previous Article:Paperback.
Next Article:Putting a good face on it.

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