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Crew uneasy. Our linguist says / their moaning is a prayer for death,
our and their own. Some try to starve themselves.

Lost three this morning leaped with crazy laughter

to the waiting sharks, sang as they went under

 

 

 Books by Robert Hayden

Collected Poems / Angle of Ascent  / American Journal  /  Night-Blooming Cereus

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Middle Passage

               By Robert Hayden

 

I

Jesús, Estrella, Esperanza, Mercy:

Sails flashing to the wind like weapons,
sharks following the moans the fever and the dying;
horror the corposant and compass rose.

Middle Passage:
voyage through death
to life upon these shores.

"10 April 1800—
Blacks rebellious. Crew uneasy. Our linguist says
their moaning is a prayer for death,
our and their own. Some try to starve themselves.
Lost three this morning leaped with crazy laughter
to the waiting sharks, sang as they went under."

Desire, Adventure, Tartar, Ann:

Standing to America, bringing home
black gold

black ivory, black seed.

Deep in the festering hold thy father lies, of his bones
New England pews are made, those are altar lights that were his eyes.

Jesus Saviour Pilot Me
Over Life's Tempestuous Sea

We pray that Thou wilt grant, O Lord,
safe passage to our vessels bringing
heathen souls unto Thy chastening.

Jesus Saviour

"8 bells. I cannot sleep, for I am sick
with fear, but writing eases fear a little
since still my eyes can see these words take shape
upon the page & so I write, as one
would turn to exorcism. 4 days scudding,
but now the sea is calm again. Misfortune
follows in our wake like sharks (our grinning
tutelary gods). Which one of us
has killed an albatross? A plague among
our blacks--Ophthalmia: blindness—& we
have jettisoned the blind to no avail.
It spreads, the terrifying sickness spreads.
Its claws have scratched sight from the Capt.'s eyes
& there is blindness in the fo'c'sle
& we must sail 3 weeks before we come
to port."

What port awaits us, Davy Jones' or home? I've
heard of slavers drifting, drifting, playthings of wind and storm and
chance, their crews gone blind, the jungle hatred crawling
up on deck.

Thou Who Walked On Galilee

"Deponent further sayeth The Bella J
left the Guinea Coast
with cargo of five hundred blacks and odd
for the barracoons of Florida:

"That there was hardly room 'tween-decks for half
the sweltering cattle stowed spoon-fashion there;
that some went mad of thirst and tore their flesh
and sucked the blood:

"That Crew and Captain lusted with the comeliest
of the savage girls kept naked in the cabins;
that there was one they called The Guinea Rose
and they cast lots and fought to lie with her:

"That when the Bo's'n piped all hands, the flames
spreading from starboard already were beyond
control, the negroes howling and their chains
entangled with the flames:

"That the burning blacks could not be reached,
that the Crew abandoned ship,
leaving their shrieking negresses behind,
that the Captain perished drunken with the wenches:

"Further Deponent sayeth not."

Pilot Oh Pilot Me

II

Aye, lad, and I have seen those factories,
Gambia, Rio Pongo, Calabar;
have watched the artful mongos baiting traps
of war wherein the victor and the vanquished

Were caught as prizes for our barracoons.
Have seen the nigger kings whose vanity
and greed turned wild black hides of Fellatah,
Mandingo, Ibo, Kru to gold for us.

And there was one—King Anthracite we named him--
fetish face beneath French parasols
of brass and orange velvet, impudent mouth
whose cups were carven skulls of enemies:

He'd honor us with drum and feast and conjo
and palm-oil-glistening wenches deft in love,
and for tin crowns that shone with paste,
red calico and German-silver trinkets

Would have the drums talk war and send
his warriors to burn the sleeping villages
and kill the sick and old and lead the young
in coffles to our factories.

Twenty years a trader, twenty years,
for there was wealth aplenty to be harvested
from those black fields, and I'd be trading still
but for the fevers melting down my bones.


III

Shuttles in the rocking loom of history,
the dark ships move, the dark ships move,
their bright ironical names
like jests of kindness on a murderer's mouth;
plough through thrashing glister toward
fata morgana's lucent melting shore,
weave toward New World littorals that are
mirage and myth and actual shore.

Voyage through death,
voyage whose chartings are unlove.

A charnel stench, effluvium of living death
spreads outward from the hold,
where the living and the dead, the horribly dying,
lie interlocked, lie foul with blood and excrement.

Deep in the festering hold thy father lies, the corpse of mercy
rots with him, rats eat love's rotten gelid eyes. But, oh, the
living look at you with human eyes whose suffering accuses you, whose
hatred reaches through the swill of dark to strike you like a leper's
claw. You cannot stare that hatred down or chain the fear that stalks
the watches and breathes on you its fetid scorching breath; cannot
kill the deep immortal human wish, the timeless will.

"But for the storm that flung up barriers
of wind and wave, The Amistad, señores,
would have reached the port of Príncipe in two,
three days at most; but for the storm we should
have been prepared for what befell.
Swift as a puma's leap it came. There was
that interval of moonless calm filled only
with the water's and the rigging's usual sounds,
then sudden movement, blows and snarling cries
and they had fallen on us with machete
and marlinspike. It was as though the very
air, the night itself were striking us.
Exhausted by the rigors of the storm,
we were no match for them. Our men went down
before the murderous Africans. Our loyal
Celestino ran from below with gun
and lantern and I saw, before the cane-
knife's wounding flash, Cinquez,
that surly brute who calls himself a prince,
directing, urging on the ghastly work.
He hacked the poor mulatto down, and then
he turned on me. The decks were slippery
when daylight finally came. It sickens me
to think of what I saw, of how these apes
threw overboard the butchered bodies of
our men, true Christians all, like so much jetsam.
Enough, enough. The rest is quickly told:
Cinquez was forced to spare the two of us
you see to steer the ship to Africa,
and we like phantoms doomed to rove the sea
voyaged east by day and west by night,
deceiving them, hoping for rescue,
prisoners on our own vessel, till
at length we drifted to the shores of this
your land, America, where we were freed
from our unspeakable misery. Now we
demand, good sirs, the extradition of
Cinquez and his accomplices to La
Havana. And it distresses us to know
there are so many here who seem inclined
to justify the mutiny of these blacks.
We find it paradoxical indeed
that you whose wealth, whose tree of liberty
are rooted in the labor of your slaves
should suffer the august John Quincey Adams
to speak with so much passion of the right
of chattel slaves to kill their lawful masters
and with his Roman rhetoric weave a hero's
garland for Cinquez. I tell you that
we are determined to return to Cuba
with our slaves and there see justice done.
Cinquez--
or let us say 'the Prince'--Cinquez shall die."

The deep immortal human wish,
the timeless will:

Cinquez its deathless primaveral image,
life that transfigures many lives.

Voyage through death
to life upon these shores.

Robert Hayden

Born Asa Bundey Sheffey, Robert Hayden spent his childhood in a Detroit ghetto nicknamed 'Paradise Valley', shuffled between his parents home and that of a foster family living next door. Childhood events would result in times of depression he would call 'my dark nights of the soul'. A nearsighted boy, he was often ostracised by his peers and was excluded from many physical pursuits. Reading -however- occupied a great deal of his time.

Hayden finished high school in 1932 and through a scholarship attended Detroit City College. Post graduation, he worked for the Federal Writer's Project, researching black history and folk culture. In 1941, he enrolled in a master's English Literature program at the University of Michigan, where he studied under W. H. Auden—who would become a guide in the development of his writing. After finishing the degree in 1942, he taught for several years at Michigan before transferring to Fisk University; in 1969, he would return to Michigan to complete his teaching career.

Hayden's work has been called 'technically gifted and conceptually expansive.' His first book of poems, Heart-Shape in the Dust was published in 1940. It was followed by an unpublished second collection, then by The Lion and the Archer (1948), and The Lion and the Archer, Figures of Time: Poems (1955). His work was internationally recognized in the 60s and A Ballad of Remembrance won the grand prize for poetry at the First World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, 1966. Selected Poems was published in 1966, and followed by Words in the Mourning Time (1970), Night-Blooming Cereus (1972), and  Angle of Ascent (1975). In 1976, he became the first black American to be appointed 'Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress'; this position was later called the Poet Laureate.

American Journal  was published in 1978 and 1982, and Collected Poems in 1985.

posted 9 July 2010

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Basil Davidson's  "Africa Series"

 Different But Equal  /  Mastering A Continent  /  Caravans of Gold  / The King and the City / The Bible and The Gun

West Africa Before the Colonial Era: A History to 1850

By Basil Davidson

African Slave Trade: Precolonial History, 1450-1850

By Basil Davidson

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Video: "South Side Story" Ta-Nehisi Coates author of The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood discusses Michelle Obama with Paul Coates an outspoken publisher and former Black Panther—his father.

“American Girl"

By Ta Nehesi Coates

When Michelle Obama told a Milwaukee campaign rally last February, "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country," critics derided her as another Angry Black Woman. But the only truly radical proposition put forth by Obama, born and raised in Chicago's storied South Side, is the idea of a black community fully vested in the country at large, and proud of the American dream.

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry

By Rita Dove

Selecting poets and poems to represent a century of poetry, especially the riotous twentieth century in America, is a massive undertaking fraught with peril and complication. Poet Rita Dove-a Pulitzer Prize- winning former U.S. poet laureate, professor, and presidential scholar- embarked on what became a consuming four-year odyssey. She reports on obstacles and discoveries in an exacting and forthright introduction, featuring striking quotes, vivid profiles, and a panoramic view of the evolution of poetic visions and styles that helped bring about social as well as artistic change [...] Dove's incisive perception of the role of poetry in cultural and social awakenings infuses this zestful and rigorous gathering of poems both necessary and unexpected by 180 American poets. This landmark anthology will instantly enhance and invigorate every poetry shelf or section.—Booklist

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Sonata Mulattica: Poems

By Rita Dove

This 12th collection from the former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize recipient is her third book-length narrative poem: it follows the real career of the violin prodigy George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (1780–1860), a former pupil of Haydn, as well as the grandson/ of an African prince, or so his promoters and teachers in England said. Moving to Vienna during the Napoleonic Wars, the violinist met and befriended the famously moody Beethoven, who was prepared to dedicate his famously difficult Kreutzer Sonata to Bridgetower until a rivalry for the same woman drove them apart. Dove tells Bridgetower's story, and some of Beethoven's and Haydn's, in a heterogenous profusion of short poems, some almost prosy, some glittering in their technique. In quatrains, a double villanelle, what looks like found text, short lines splayed all over a page and attractive description, Dove renders Bridgetower's frustrated genius: Music played for the soul is sheer pleasure;/ to play merely for pleasure is nothing/ but work. Dove does not always achieve such subtleties—those who loved her early work may think this book too long: few, though, will doubt the seriousness of her effort, her interest at once in the history of classical music and the changing meanings of race.—Publishers Weekly

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African-American Odyssey, The Combined Volume

By Darlene Clark Hine

The African-American Odyssey is a compelling story of agency, survival, struggle and triumph over adversity. The authors highlight what it has meant to be black in America and how African-American history is inseparably woven into the greater context of American history. The text provides accounts of the lives of ordinary men and women alongside those of key African-Americans and the impact they have had on the struggle for equality to illuminate the central place of African-Americans in U.S. history more than any other text. This compendium of resources includes up to 100 most commonly assigned history works like Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, and Machiavelli’s The Prince. Students can monitor their progress and instructors can monitor the progress of their entire class. Automated grading of quizzes and assignments helps both instructors and students save time and monitor their results throughout the course.

 

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Allah, Liberty, and Love

The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom

By Irshad Manji

In Allah, Liberty and Love, Irshad Manji paves a path for Muslims and non-Muslims to transcend the fears that stop so many of us from living with honest-to-God integrity: the fear of offending others in a multicultural world as well as the fear of questioning our own communities. Since publishing her international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today, Manji has moved from anger to aspiration. She shows how any of us can reconcile faith with freedom and thus discover the Allah of liberty and love—the universal God that loves us enough to give us choices and the capacity to make them. Among the most visible Muslim reformers of our era, Manji draws on her experience in the trenches to share stories that are deeply poignant, frequently funny and always revealing about these morally confused times. What prevents young Muslims, even in the West, from expressing their need for religious reinterpretation? 

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Season of Adventure

By George Lamming

First published in 1960, Season of Adventure details the story of Fola, a light-skinned middle-class girl who has been tipped out of her easy hammock of social privilege into the complex political and cultural world of her recently independent homeland, the Caribbean island of San Cristobal. After attending a ceremony of the souls to raise the dead, she is carried off by the unrelenting accompaniment of steel drums onto a mysterious journey in search of her past and of her identity. Gradually, she is caught in the crossfire of a struggle between people who have "pawned their future to possessions" and those "condemned by lack of learning to a deeper truth." The music of the drums sounds throughout the novel, "loud as gospel to a believer's ears," and at the end stands alone as witness to the tradition which is slowly being destroyed in the name of European values. Whether through literary production or public pronouncements, George Lamming has explored the phenomena of colonialism and imperialism and their impact on the psyche of Caribbean people.

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Alexander Crummell: A Study of Civilization and Discontent

By Wilson J. Moses

This remarkable biography, based on much new information, examines the life and times of one of the most prominent African-American intellectuals of the nineteenth century. Born in New York in 1819, Alexander Crummell was educated at Queen's College, Cambridge, after being denied admission to Yale University and the Episcopal Seminary on purely racial grounds. In 1853, steeped in the classical tradition and modern political theory, he went to the Republic of Liberia as an Episcopal missionary, but was forced to flee to Sierra Leone in 1872, having barely survived republican Africa's first coup. He accepted a pastorate in Washington, D.C., and in 1897 founded the American Negro Academy, where the influence of his ideology was felt by W.E.B. Du Bois and future progenitors of the Garvey Movement. A pivotal nineteenth-century thinker, Crummell is essential to any understanding of twentieth-century black nationalism.

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Middle Passage

By Charles Johnson

A savage parable of the black experience in America, Johnson's picaresque novel begins in 1830 when Rutherford Calhoun, a newly freed Illinois slave eking out a living as a petty thief in New Orleans, hops aboard a square-rigger to evade the prim Boston schoolteacher who wants to marry him. But the Republic , no riverboat, turns out to be a slave clipper bound for Africa. Calhoun, a witty narrator conversant with the works of Chaucer and Beethoven and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, hates himself for acting as henchman to the ship's captain, a dwarfish, philosophizing tyrant. Before the rowdy, drunken crew can spring a mutiny, African slaves recently taken on board stage a successful revolt. Blending confessional, ship's log and adventure, the narrative interweaves a disquisition on slavery, poverty, race relations and an African worldview at odds with Western materialism. In luxuriant, intoxicating prose Johnson (The Sorcerer's Apprentice) makes the agonized past a prism looking onto a tense present.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues


1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        

Enjoy!

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)

 

 

update 17 August 2012

 

 

 

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Related files: Dark Tourism in Ghana: The Joseph Project   Tarzan Can Not Return to Africa (A-B-C-D)   Tarzan Can Not Return to Africa   (E-F-G-H)

Tarzan Can Not Return to Africa  (I-J-K-L)   Tarzan Can Not Return to Africa   (M-N-O-P-Q-R)    Tarzan Can Not Return to Africa (S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z)

 Wright's Ghana in the 1950s    Miriam in Ghana  Pilgrimage  to Ghana     Middle Passage (Jeannette Drake)