Cover image for Giant steps : the new generation of African American writers
Title:
Giant steps : the new generation of African American writers
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Perennial, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
xiii, 364 pages ; 24 cm
Summary:
Giant steps presents a vibrant and wonderfully diverse collection of young black writing.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780688168766
Format :
Book

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PS508.N3 G53 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

Standing at the crossroads of American literature and the current African American renaissance, Giant Steps presents a vibrant and wonderfully diverse collection of young black writing. Through generous selections of award-winning poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by writers born after 1960, this groundbreaking anthology welcomes readers into the future of African American writing.

Taking its spirit and title from the John Coltrane composition released in 1960, Giant Steps offers an extraordinary window into post-civil rights literature. From Edwidge Danticat and Colson Whitehead to Rebecca Walker and Hilton Als, these authors are not "emerging" but have already arrived. They are National Book Award finalists and winners of the National Poetry Series and the Pushcart Prize. They have been featured in The New Yorker, Time, and Newsweek as our brightest stars; they have been heard through National Public Radio, Rhino Records, and Oprah's Book Club. Previously unpublished works by Danzy Senna, Philippe Wamba, and Elizabeth Alexander run alongside contemporary classics. They are popular and prophetic, literary and experimental. Together with a useful bibliography of current writing and a discography of influential music from soul to jazz to hip-hop, Giant Steps celebrates the complexities of race while paying tribute to the personal and collective histories that are forging this new generation.

The writers found in Giant Steps are not "emerging" but have already arrived. From Best American Poetry and O. Henry Award winners to National Book Award finalists and Oprah's Book Club members, the thirty-five authors selected here are some of the best and the brightest writing today.

The book features the full diversity of the African American experience, discussing everything from slavery to sexuality, growing up poor, gay, biracial, or all three. There are stories about the American Revolution, slave insurrections, and the year 1979; there are poems about loss and Sam Cooke; essays about sharecropping and the New South. New and unpublished writing by Danzy Senna, Colson Whitehead, and Darieck Scott is collected alongside work by such favorites as Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Powell, Hilton Als, and Randall Keenan. The writers in Giant Steps are at the heart of what's happening in contemporary culture, and this anthology welcomes readers to the future and powerful present of African American writing.The writers found in Giant Steps are not "emerging" but have already arrived. From Best American Poetry and O. Henry Award winners to National Book Award finalists and Oprah's Book Club members, the thirty-five authors selected here are some of the best and the brightest writing today.

The book features the full diversity of the African American experience, discussing everything from slavery to sexuality, growing up poor, gay, biracial, or all three. There are stories about the American Revolution, slave insurrections, and the year 1979; there are poems about loss and Sam Cooke; essays about sharecropping and the New South. New and unpublished writing by Danzy Senna, Colson Whitehead, and Darieck Scott is collected alongside work by such favorites as Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Powell, Hilton Als, and Randall Keenan. The writers in Giant Steps are at the heart of what's happening in contemporary culture, and this anthology welcomes readers to the future and powerful present of African American writing.


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In his manifesto-sharp introduction, Young, as shrewd a critic as he is a gifted poet, observes that as African American literature begins "to set its official canon," young, cutting-edge writers are not receiving their due. To rectify this imbalance, he has gathered together poems, essays, and fiction by 35 writers, the oldest of which were born in 1960, the year John Coltrane's Giant Steps, to which this outstanding anthology pays homage, was released. Young's focus on the influence of music on African American literature serves to connect the diverse voices he so energetically presents. As he observes, earlier generations used the blues as a template for their groundbreaking literature, whereas today's hot writers draw on the aesthetics of hip-hop. A sense of the spirit and power of this collection can be gathered from mere mention of its arresting essays by Hilton Als and Joe Wood; searing fiction by Carolyn Ferrell, Danzy Senna, and Colin Whitehead; and forthright poetry by Ruth Forman, Terrance Hayes, and Allison Joseph. --Donna Seaman


Library Journal Review

Young (Univ. of Georgia) has skillfully selected poetry, fiction, and essays by more than two dozen African American authors, all younger than 40. The collection features such well-known writers as Edwidge Danticat and Randall Keenan as well as lesser-known talents like Philippe Wamba, Terrence Hayes, and Jamaican Americans Allison Joseph and Claudia Rankine. In addition to their youth, the authors often share common themes, as pointed out by Young in his succinct introduction, such as an interest in music, pop culture, and race. Some of the most effective poems celebrate the courageous defiance of black icons, for example, Elizabeth Alexander's "Deadwood Dick," about the famous black cowboy Nat Love, and John Keene's "Jackie Robinson in Sportsmen's Park, 1949." This collection includes classics, such as an excerpt from Hilton Als's The Women, and previously unpublished pieces such as Danzy Senna's "The Land of Beulah." Recent collections of African American writers--such as Keith Gilyard's Spirit & Flame (Syracuse Univ., 1997) and Derrick Gilbert's Catch the Fire! (Berkeley Pub. Group, 1998)--focus on contemporary poets. Young's multigenre anthology is a significant contribution to the literature. Recommended for all public and academic libraries.--Louis J. Parascandola, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

The Black Psychic Hotline, or The Future of African American Writingp. 1
What I'm Telling Youp. 14
Nineteenp. 14
Frank Willisp. 15
Stella by Starlightp. 16
Deadwood Dickp. 17
Overture: Watermelon Cityp. 18
Racep. 19
Bluesp. 20
Feminist Poem Number Onep. 22
from The Womenp. 26
A Poe Storyp. 38
Becoming the Ghostp. 39
Self-Portrait with Clark Street Cadillacp. 40
Detroit, One A.M.p. 40
Machinesp. 41
The Loudest Soundp. 42
The Book of the Deadp. 46
View of the Library of Congress from Paul Laurence Dunbar High Schoolp. 58
Fatal Aprilp. 59
Being Therep. 61
Hush Yo Moufp. 62
Photograph of Dr. Funkensteinp. 64
Atomic Bridep. 65
Can You Say My Name?p. 70
Haiku Ip. 86
The Williams Side of the Familyp. 86
Blues Poem IIIp. 86
Show Me the Ankles of Justicep. 87
Cancerp. 88
Momma Died When My Wisdom Teeth Come Inp. 89
Even If I Was Cleopatra Jonesp. 90
Shafrop. 94
I Want to Be Fatp. 95
Neckbonesp. 96
Candied Yamsp. 97
What I Amp. 98
Goliath Poemp. 99
When the Neighbors Fightp. 100
Some Luminous Distressp. 102
Summerp. 103
Saltp. 106
Learning the Bluesp. 107
Family Lifep. 108
Home Girl Talks Girlhoodp. 109
On Being Told I Don't Speak Like a Black Personp. 111
Jackie Robinson in Sportsmen's Park, 1949p. 116
Cecil's Consolation (1942)p. 117
One Revolutionp. 118
Winter Elegyp. 119
Why I Love My Fatherp. 120
Now Why Come That Is?p. 124
She Landed on the Moonp. 144
Roadmapp. 144
from Muse and Drudgep. 145
Suzuki Methodp. 148
Black Nikesp. 148
Letter to My Fatherp. 152
American Lightp. 162
Himp. 163
Overview Is a Placep. 164
The Quotidianp. 166
This Lifep. 168
1979p. 172
The Land of Beulahp. 194
The Difficult Musicp. 216
Desire and the Slave Tradep. 217
Antibodyp. 219
S'il Meurtp. 220
Icarus on Fire Islandp. 221
At the Grave of Hart Cranep. 222
Skin Tradep. 223
from Girl in the Mirrorp. 226
At the Stationp. 236
Speculation, 1939p. 236
Drapery Factory, Gulfport, Mississippi, 1956p. 237
Flounderp. 238
Saturday Matineep. 239
Bellocq's Opheliap. 240
Higher Yellowp. 244
from Mississippip. 252
Of Prophets and Madmenp. 270
The All-Night Bodega of Soulsp. 286
Singing Sankofap. 298
The Yellow Negrop. 310
Nineteen Seventy-fivep. 336
No Offensep. 337
Negativep. 338
Charlie Chan on Hornp. 339
Langston Hughesp. 341
Homage to Phillis Wheatleyp. 342
Select Bibliographyp. 345
Discographyp. 353
Acknowledgmentsp. 359
Index by Genrep. 363