Category Archives: Poetry

New @the SCL in POETRY

Happy National Poetry Month, y’all! Here are three poetry picks new to the SCL collection:

Coval K, Coval K. 2011. L-vis lives! : Racemusic poems. Chicago, Ill.: Haymarket Books. xvi, 103 ; p.
“From the poet the Chicago Tribune calls the new voice of Chicago, comes L-vis Lives!, a bold new collection of poetry and prose exploring the collision of race, art, and appropriation in American culture. L-vis is an imagined persona, a representation of artists who have used and misused Black music. Like so many others who gained fame and fortune from their sampling, L-vis is as much a sincere artist as he is a thief. In Kevin Coval’s poems, L-vis’ story is equal parts forgotten history, autobiography, and re-imaginings.” (Source: UNC catalog)

Griffiths R Eliza. 2011. Mule & Pear. Kalamazoo, MI: The College of Arts and Sciences Western Michigan Univerisity. 97 p.
“These poems speak to us with voices borrowed from the pages of novels of Alice Walker, Jean Toomer, and Toni Morrison — voices that still have more to say, things to discuss. Each struggles beneath a yoke of dreaming, loving, and suffering. These characters converse not just with the reader but also with each other, talking amongst themselves, offering up their secrets and hard-won words of wisdom, an everlasting conversation through which these poems voice a shared human experience.” (Source: Amazon)

Harriell D. c2010. Cotton : Poems. Detroit, Michigan: Willow Books. 77 ; p.
“In his remarkable debut collection, COTTON, Derrick Harriell has created a mural in poems. The characters that inhabit this vivid tableau step into an active third dimension and allow us to witness the vicissitudes of their daily struggles, triumphs large and small, private desires. The community here is anchored by a specific Midwestern, African-American family which, in spite of both external and internal challenges, maintains its unity, however precarious at times. Death, passion, humor, mother wit, history, place, these are the colors that Harriell mixes and applies with such artistry that readers may not be so sure if they are watching a particular world or if that world is watching them. Harriell is among America’s most exciting new voices in poetry.”–Maurice Kilwein Guevara (Source: Syndetic Solutions)

Looking for more poetry resources? In addition to searching the UNC catalog, don’t forget the Stone Center Library’s Guide to the Web has an extensive literature section, including several poetry-related sites. Happy reading!

New @the SCL: Head off & split (winner of the 2011 National Book Award in Poetry)

Is it us, or has April just flown by? As National Poetry Month winds down, we thought we’d highlight some recent acquisitions here at the SCL, starting today with a spotlight on Nikky Finney‘s National Book Award-winning anthology Head off & split : poems.

Widely praised, this collection artfully engages with a variety of timely topics. In the words of one reviewer:

“The poems in Nikky Finney’s breathtaking new collection Head Off & Split sustain a sensitive and intense dialogue with emblematic figures and events in African-American life: from Civil Rights matriarch Rosa Parks, to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, from a brazen girl strung out on lightning, to a terrified woman abandoned on a rooftop during Hurricane Katrina. Her poet’s voice is defined by an intimacy, which holds a soft yet exacting-eye on the erotic, on uncanny political and family events, like her mother’s wedding waltz with S.C. Senator Strom Thurmond, and then again on the heart-breaking hilarity of an American President’s final state of the Union address. Artful and intense, Finney’s poems ask us to be mindful of what we fraction, fragment, cut off, dice, dishonor, or throw away, powerfully evoking both the lawless and the sublime.” (Source:


Interested in seeing what all the buzz is about? Be sure to come by the Stone Center Library and check out this book! More information about Head off & split and Nikky Finney herself may also be found on her website, and her acceptance speech for the 2011 National Book Award in Poetry is available on Vimeo.

From UNC-CH’s Rare Book Collection: New Acquisitions!

Last week, in recognition of Black History Month, UNC’s own Rare Book Collection blogged about two of their recent acquisitions:

Christina Moody’s Tiny Spark: “Imagine a sixteen-year old African-American girl publishing a book of poetry in 1910: some of it in dialect, some of it provocatively proud of her race, grappling with serious issues – like how a Negro can pledge allegiance to the American flag – as well as the problems of ‘Chillun and Men.'”


Claude McKay’s Long Way From Home: “The volume is the autobiography of the Jamaica-born writer McKay in the first edition, published in New York in 1937. Its original cloth cover with foil label is quite worn, but open up, and there’s a surprise, a wonderful page of inscriptions, one from the author to Naomi Davis, the alias of Frances Daniels.”

For more on these great finds, be sure to click on the links above for the full blog posts!

Black History Month Profile: James Weldon Johnson (1831-1938)

First performed publicly in February of 1900, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” was composed by brothers James Weldon (text) and J. Rosamand Johnson (music). Originally conceived as a poem to commemorate Lincoln’s birthday, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” as a musical work has become a powerful symbol of the U.S. Civil Rights movement. Termed “the Black National Anthem” by some, this song also inspired a short-lived sculpture (“The Harp”) commissioned for the 1939 New York World’s Fair and created by Augusta Savage Jefferson. Given its cultural significance, and in honor of Black History Month, here at the Library we thought we would briefly spotlight the poet, educator, and activist behind the poem: James Weldon Johnson.

James Weldon Johnson (1831-1938) was born in Jacksonville, FL and went on to attend Atlanta University. The son of a schoolteacher, he returned to his alma mater Stanton Elementary School as principal. Concurrently, he purused legal studies and became the first African-American to pass the bar exam in the state of Florida. In addition to his significant contribution to the fields of education and law, Johnson was a prolific writer of poems, song texts, and fiction such as The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. Active in the political arena as well, in 1920 he was appointed executive secretary of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), which ultimately adopted “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as its official song.

For a sampling James Weldon Johnson’s poetry available here at the Library, we recommend checking out:

For more on the artwork inspired by “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” consider this book, also available here at the Library:

And for a full list of books authored by James Weldon Johnson and available here at the SCL, check out the following list in the online catalog. Happy reading!

Sources consulted:

SCL Picks for Valentine’s Day, or, 14 Books About Love

It’s all about love today!  In honor of Valentine’s Day, Stone Center Librarian Shauna Collier has hand-picked a selection of books from the collection on the subject of LOVE. In no particular order, here are 14 books for February 14th: 

African love stories : an anthology (2006), edited by Ama Ata Aidoo

Bicycles : love poems (2009), by Nikki Giovanni

Courtship and love among the enslaved in North Carolina (c2007), by Rebecca  Fraser

Forbidden fruit : love stories from the Underground Railroad (2005), by Betty DeRamus

Haruko : love poems (c1994), by June Jordan

How three Black women writers combined spiritual and sensual love : rhetorically transcending the boundaries of language (Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, and Dionne Brand) (c2010), by Cherie Ann Turpin.

I hear a symphony : African Americans celebrate love (1994), edited by Paula L. Woods and Felix H. Liddell

It’s all love : black writers on soul mates, family, and friends (c2009)

Love & marriage in early African America (c2008), edited by Frances Smith Foster

Love in Africa (2009), edited by Jennifer Cole and Lynn M. Thomas

Love poems (c1997), by Nikki Giovanni

Salvation : Black people and love (2001), by bell hooks

The suitcase book of love poems (2008), edited by Martin De Mello & Muli Amaye

Wild women don’t wear no blues : Black women writers on love, men, and sex (c1993), edited and with an introduction by Marita Golden

All titles are available here at the SCL. Enjoy! 🙂

* Image by Stuart Miles

SCL Boredom-Buster #10: “Hard Times Require Furious Dancing,” by Alice Walker

A very happy Friday to you all! We conclude our week of summer reading recommendations in poetry with the following new title:

Hard times require furious dancing, by Alice Walker, and available here at the SCL.

  • “Pulitzer Prize-winning author Walker (‘The Color Purple’) confronts personal and collective challenges in words that dance, sing, and heal, in this new collection of poems.” (Source: Syndetic Solutions)

Missed any of our previous Boredom-Busters posts? Not to worry, here’s a quick recap of this week’s picks:

Enjoy! Next week our Anti-Boredom Month series continues with recommendations in non-fiction…. Until then, we hope you all have a fabulous weekend! 🙂

SCL Boredom-Buster #9: “Starting today : 100 poems for Obama’s first 100 days”

Today’s boredom-busting SCL pick features yet another innovative poetry project, first published online as a collective artistic response to Barack Obama’s first one hundred days as U.S. President:

Starting today: 100 poems for Obama’s first 100 days, edited by Rachel Zucker & Arielle Greenberg, and available here at the SCL. You can also check out the blog that started it all here.

  • “Starting Today contains 100 poems written during-and responding to-Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office. The poems included in this anthology, except for Elizabeth Alexander’s inauguration poem, were all written no more than a day before they appeared on the popular blog “Starting Today: Poems for the First 100 Days” . The result is a work that documents the political and personal events of those crucial days through a variety of contemporary poetic voices, from the ebullient to the admiring, from the pithy to the loquacious. . . Difficult to categorize but easy to enjoy, the poems in Starting Today offer something for every type of poetry reader, from the novice to the seasoned. This smart, timely collection offers a swirling portrait of the American Zeitgeist-a poetic reportage that demonstrates spontaneity, collaboration, immediacy, and accessibility.” (Source: Syndetic Solutions)

Happy reading! We hope you’ll tune back in tomorrow for our final poetry recommendation of the month. 🙂

SCL Boredom-Buster #8: “Red: Contemporary Black British Poetry”

Yesterday‘s SCL summer reading recommendation featured poems resulting from a single author’s writing project – to compose first thing in the morning. Today’s poetry selection comes from across the pond and features myriad poets responding to a single prompt: the word “red.” Check out:

Red: Contemporary Black British Poetry, edited by Kwame Dawes, and available here at the Stone Center Library.

  • “Inspired by the word ‘red,’ this collection of poems written by black British writers–including both established authors and new, exciting poets–explores the subjects and ideas stirred by a single trigger, from the word’s usual associations with blood, violence, passion, and anger, as well as with sensuality and sexuality, to more surprising interpretations such as the link to a particular mood, the quality of light in the sky, the color of skin, and the sound of a song. This remarkable compilation succeeds in generating poems that find an intriguing resonance with each other while also revealing images and themes unique to the individual poets.” (Source: Syndetic Solutions)

Enjoy! And tune in tomorrow as our series of Boredom-Busters continues! 🙂

SCL Boredom-Buster #7: “Wake-up calls: 66 morning poems”

Good morning, faithful readers!

Last week we kick-started our Boredom-Busters series of summer reading recommendations with selections in fiction. This week, we’ll be highlighting picks in poetry.

Today, the Stone Center Library recommends:

Wake-up calls: 66 morning poems, by Wanda Phipps, and available here at the Library.

  • “A collection of Wanda Phipps’s best poems from her writing project in which she wrote every day right after she awoke, Wake-Up Calls is a fascinating reflection of the many different moods a person can have in the morning and a very personal glimpse into the author’s life (she was moving into a new home at the time). Phipps explores issues of identity and self with a freshness of voice and imagery fortuitously captured in the state between dreaming and fully waking up.” (Source: Syndetic Solutions)

Happy reading, and remember to check back in tomorrow for Boredom-Buster #8! Interested in following up on one of our previous selections? Click here for the rest of the series.

New display at the Stone Center Library!

Come by the library and check out our newly updated display! Featuring recent acquisitions in literature, history, politics, women’s studies, and music. Selections include Young Mandela, Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchens, Terry McMillan’s Getting to Happy, and Jay-Z’s memoir, Decoded.