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Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art. (anthologies).

Role Call: A Generational Anthology of
Social and Political Black Literature and Art
edited by Samiya A. Bashir, Quaraysh Ali
Lansana, Tony Medina
Third World Press, October 2001
$24.95, ISBN 0-883-78239-1


Consider that anthos is the Greek word for flower and logia the Greek word for collecting. Now imagine a solitary author, laboring for months over a novel, a story or a poem, cultivating it like a gardener who slaves over a prizewinning African violet. Now imagine a florist carefully pruning and arranging a collection of brilliantly hued flowers, in other words, an anthology.

Editors Samiya A. Bashir, Quaraysh Ali Lansana and Tony Medina have done just that in Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art.

A weighty tome--a phat 512 pages--Role Call is divided into seven sections that examine how the work of recognized and emerging young black artists deal with race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and class, as well as the joy and pain of being black in America.

If anything, Role Call is exceedingly self-aware. In the foreword, Haki R. Madhubuti, founder and publisher of Third World Press, extols, "Role Call is to this generation what Black Fire was to mine." Even the most cursory reading makes it clear that Role Call is shaped by a powerful historical awareness of black struggle, and by an equally powerful understanding of the Black Arts movement.

The most unique feature of Role Call is its commitment to visual art. The anthology includes everything from photographs and batik to paintings and collages--86 such pieces in all. And of course, there are the literary works: six dramas, 205 poems, 24 works of fiction and as many essays. The roll of Role Call includes poets Thomas Sayers Ellis, Lita Hooper, Willie Perdomo, DJ Renegade, and Natasha Trethewey; essayists Farai Chideya and Catherine McKinley; and fiction writers like Jeffrey Renard Allen and Thomas Glave.

The editors of Role Call have arranged a rather fine literary bouquet that just may contain the best and brightest flowers of our time.

--Trent Masiki is an English professor in Worcester, Massachusetts.
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Article Details
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Author:Masiki, Trent
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2002
Words:349
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