Voices Beyond Bondage
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Voices Beyond Bondage : An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century

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Slaves in chains, toiling on master's plantation. Beatings, bloodied whips. This is what many of us envision when we think of 19th century African Americans; source materials penned by those who suffered in bondage validate this picture. Yet slavery was not the only identity of 19th century African Americans. Whether they were freeborn, self-liberated, or born in the years after the Emancipation, African Americans had a rich cultural heritage all their own, a heritage largely subsumed in popular history and collective memory by the atrocity of slavery. The early 19th century birthed the nation's first black-owned periodicals, the first media spaces to provide primary outlets for the empowerment of African American voices. For many, poetry became this empowerment. Almost every black-owned periodical featured an open call for poetry, and African Americans, both free and enslaved, responded by submitting droves of poems for publication. Yet until now, these poems -- and an entire literary movement -- have been lost to modern readers. The poems in Voices Beyond Bondage address the horrific and the mundane, the humorous and the ordinary and the extraordinary. Authors wrote about slavery, but also about love, morality, politics, perseverance, nature, and God. These poems evidence authors who were passionate, dedicated, vocal, and above all resolute in a bravery which was both weapon and shield against a world of prejudice and inequity. These authors wrote to be heard; more than 150 years later it is at last time for us to listen.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 310 pages
  • 162.56 x 231.14 x 40.64mm | 113.4g
  • NewSouth Books
  • Montgomery, Albania
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 1588382982
  • 9781588382986

Flap copy

Voices Beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century, a collection of 150 poems culled from bourgeoning black-owned newspapers of the era, offers a fresh perspective on African American life and identity. These poems are not the work of a few elite literary masters but poems penned mostly by everyday people people who were thoughtful, insightful, and compelled to verse despite being born into a world of fundamental inequity. Whether these authors were formally schooled or self-taught, whether they were slaves, free peoples, or the descendants of slaves, these African Americans put ink to paper and declared their passions in verse. This exciting new volume rekindles the voice of those who have been all but overlooked in American literature. It presents new literary territory that is waiting to be explored by lovers of poetry and scholars of the African American experience alike.show more

Review quote

"This well-wrought and powerful anthology of poems reminds us of the richness and variety of African American culture. Published during slavery and the years after emancipation, from 1827 to 1899, these poems reflect a tumultuous time in American history. Quite apart from the literary significance of the poems themselves, this carefully curated volume provides an extraordinary contribution to historical understanding." --Orville Vernon Burton, Creativity Professor of Humanities, Clemson University, and author, Age of Lincoln and In My Father's House Are Many Mansions "Voices Beyond Bondage reveals a mostly unacknowledged 19th-century literary movement and gives readers a fresh perspective on African American poets from the antebellum and postbellum periods. The anthology will be valued as a rich resource for libraries, students, and scholars of both literature and history." --Julian Bond, Chairman Emeritus, NAACP "A fascinating collection that effectively accomplishes what its editors, DeSimone and Louis, set out to do, which is to reclaim these voices, temporarily lost in old files and microfiche, and to share "a more complex understanding of African American history -- and American history as a whole -- and provide insight into the literary, cultural, and political movements of these troubling years."" --Writing and Ruminating "Voices Beyond Bondage kindles the voice of those who have been all but overlooked in American literature, and presents for lovers of poetry and scholars of the African-American experience alike a new literary territory waiting to be explored" --The Times and Democrat "Voices Beyond Bondage is a scrupulously researched and edited collections of poems from 19th-century black-owned presses that brings back to life a grassroots literary movement forgotten in time. The anthology provides what editors DeSimone and Louis call 'a different, more nuanced view of African-American history, ' countering stereotypes of blacks as illiterate and inferior." --Allison Griffin, Montgomery Advertiser "DeSimone and Louis' work expands the field of black poetry, disproves the myth that 19th-century African Americans were illiterate or uneducated, and should be a welcome addition to any historian or poetry lover's library." --Star Tribune "The diverse array of subject matter and the emotional range of the poems are anything but conventional and point to the rich cultural, political and inner lives both of those who suffered under the bonds of slavery and those who won their freedom." --ArtsATLshow more

Rating details

4 ratings
4.5 out of 5 stars
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4 0% (0)
3 25% (1)
2 0% (0)
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