I am so excited for Elizabeth Alexander. I met her several years ago when she came to Oakland for her book, "The Black Interior." She was gracious and engaging. She has several poetry collections. The Black Intereior examines the context of black art in the American landscape.
Alexander, the author of three indelible poetry collections, including Antebellum Dream Book (2001), now shares the aesthetic and intellectual wellspring from which her poems arise in a fresh and penetrating inquiry into African American creativity, or what she calls the "black interior." An exhilaratingly precise and mind-expanding essayist and critic, Alexander writes with striking insight about the poetry of Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Michael Harper; the black arts movement; the paintings of Romare Bearden and Kerry James Marshall; and the films of Denzel Washington. In each finely structured essay, she shrewdly assesses the historical and social context within which black artists work and how "public and communal pressures" to create art that is of service to the black community "dramatically affect the choices" black artists make. Erudite, witty, and profound, Alexander also celebrates the influence of Jet magazine and considers the terrible fates and legacies of Emmett Till and Rodney King. This original and electrifying collection greatly enriches and extends understanding of African American culture and its essential role in American culture as a whole. Donna Seaman
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