Poemhood: Our Black Revival: History, Folklore & the Black Experience: A Young Adult Poetry Anthology

­HarperTeen. Jan. 2024. 160p. ed. by McBride, Amber, Taylor Byas & Erica ­Martin, eds. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063225282.
Gr 9 Up–An anthology of poems and stories on the Black experience from more than 35 acclaimed poets, including Kwame Alexander, Ibi Zoboi, and Nikki Giovanni. Their stories are personal, vivid, meaningful, powerful, tragic, and beautiful. The writers remember reveling in happy times with grandparents gone to glory; breaking the vicious cycle of generational trauma; admiring the heavenly glow of nature; persevering through the systemic hardships of being Black; migrating North during the harrowing era of Jim Crow; celebrating the kink, curl, and coil of so-called “unprofessional” hair; and lauding the colorful talents that birthed the Harlem Renaissance. There are also harder moments, past and present, such as the horror of a Black child gruesomely shot by a police officer while playing outside. This outspoken, unrelenting, open, joyful, and insightful book can be piercing and hard-hitting—stories of injustice, racism, abuse, and boldface smite for Black culture, beauty, and hair sting. But readers’ emotions will bob between low and helpless to happy and high, and everything in between, given the writers’ skill at painting images with words. Though most of the experiences penned in this anthology are rooted in Black culture, several poems reflect the overall human experience, with themes of grief and generational trauma.
VERDICT An excellent collection of poetry that is an insightful read on the Black experience. A great choice for high school libraries and fans of honest and thought-provoking poetry.

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