Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks
edited by Quraysh Ali Lansana and Sandra Jackson-Opoku
"Books We're Excited About in 2017" (Chicago Tribune)
“In the hands of Gwendolyn Brooks, old age is a diamond with many facets. Throughout her poetry, Brooks has illuminated old age as a time of isolation and withdrawal, remembrance and continuity, poverty, vulnerability, even homelessness, exploitation, neglect, abandonment, marginalization, and destruction. And, yet, she offered resistance and affirmation.”
—Angela Jackson, award-winning poet and activist
The year 2017 marks the 100th birthday of the late poet and cultural icon Gwendolyn Brooks. Miss Brooks’ depictions of poor and working-class African Americans provides insight into the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and her lens on the Great Migration, hard and necessary truths about race injustice, and the Black Power movement interprets and contextualizes current racial inequities and tensions. This collection of poetry, essays, and art inspired by the work of Miss Brooks celebrates her life, writing, and activism.
PRAISE FOR REVISE THE PSALM:
"A vibrant celebration — teeming with poetry, essays and art — inspired by the late poet and cultural icon Gwendolyn Brooks."
"Majestic, exciting, enlightening, and entertaining [...] an essential book for anybody who has any feeling for Chicago literature, period. [Brooks'] work resonates now more profoundly than anybody who was writing when she wrote."
—Rick Kogan, WGN Radio
"[Gwendolyn Brooks'] profound and lasting influence is richly celebrated in this vibrant, thematically organized homage marking the centenary of her birth [...] Layers of cross-currents flow across these pages through moving and affirming works in tribute to and in dialogue with Brooks by established (Rita Dove, Calvin Forbes, Patricia Smith) and emerging writers, all carrying forward the legacy of this essential American poet of conscience and artistic splendor."
"[Gwendolyn Brooks’] influence on Chicagoans can be felt throughout the book, from Kevin Coval’s ode to the poet to Brooks’s handwritten edits on two of Lansana’s poems. […] 16 years after her death, Revise the Psalm proves she continues to be relevant."
"[...] Both scholarly and intimate, a “praise-song” of a generous, eloquent writer, teacher and activist who provided insight into the Great Migration, the civil rights movement, Black Power and the lives of working class and poor African Americans."
"As a poet concerned with social justice, the issues of Brooks’ time — black death and despair — are still reverberating today, guiding contemporary pens toward contemporary papers. Revise the Psalm reminds us that Brooks’ meditations and elegies are still potent, still heart-wrenchingly necessary."
—Black Book Quotes
"This anthology is an homage of monumental proportions. It is a literary offering from a partial list of poets and writers who honor the major twentieth century American figure, Miss Gwendolyn Brooks, Chicago poet, champion for Black expression in American letters, advocate for the underdog in our society and all children everywhere. It is a must for every library."
—Ana Castillo, author of So Far From God
"Gwendolyn Brooks provided us with sun to flower. In Revise the Psalm, the brilliant writers she influenced and inspired measure up to and magnify Brooks’ challenging, inclusive, disciplined art."
—Joanne V. Gabbin, Furious Flower Poetry Center
"Revise the Psalm revisits and revitalizes the power of Gwendolyn Brooks’s legacy of “literary citizenship.” Tributes from multi-ethnic writers, mostly poets, attest to her transformative poetic practice, her sharp attention to audience, her compassion for younger writers. This anthology, edited by Quraysh Ali Lansana and Sandra Jackson-Opoku, is a necessary intervention into forgetting, as we approach 100th anniversary of one of the most brilliant poets of the 20th century and, I daresay, the 21st."
—Cheryl Clarke, author of After Mecca: Women Poets and the Black Arts Movement
"The works of Gwendolyn Brooks are our heritage. We receive her remarkable artistic testament, the fruit of her imagination and artistry and commitment. For other poets and writers, this heritage is endlessly generative [...] In all her writing, one recognizes her enormous capacity to respond with wisdom and sympathy to human frailty and failure, to encourage and to set an example, and to sustain her fierce loyalty to everyday life. Her poems encompass men and women working, singing, suffering, loving and grieving; joyous, sad, and angry; dejected, despairing and foolish; hopeful, helpful, and heroic [...] From the very beginning of her artistic career, she was deeply engaged with her art, championing with her poetic range and brilliance the humanity of those whom she portrayed. As another poet once said to me long ago, Brooks’s virtuosity was the proof of her commitment to black life. To life. She stood with the great cause of civil rights and also wrote of the great travails of being human in an uncivil time and place. She wrote with special warmth, honesty, and realism about children. Her work and her person have directly and indirectly inspired, counseled, advised, and challenged all who write poetry and fiction, and all who read. Nothing could be more fitting or more welcome in the centennial year of Brooks’s birth than this moving collection of tributes to her."
PRAISE FOR QURAYSH ALI LANSANA:
Praise for The BreakBeat Poets:
"[T]he first definitive anthology of poems by poets who fuse together the aesthetic of hip-hop and the style of slam poetry with the written-word tradition... [a] dynamic, groundbreaking, genre-merging volume."
"The BreakBeat Poets offers a thrilling vortex of diverse voices. From slavery to Jim Crow, from gang violence to black identity, The BreakBeat Poets presents an enthralling and necessary overview of an often overlooked vein of contemporary poetry."
PRAISE FOR SANDRA JACKSON-OPOKU:
Praise for The River Where Blood is Born:
“In its rivers, beads, webs and quilts, the author’s story weaving is abundant... The threads of each story are as easy to follow as brightly colored stitchery... Besides its sheer literary beauty, Jackson-Opoku’s story-weaving will give readers a new spiritual dimension from which to consider the meaning of life."
ABOUT THE EDITORS:
Quraysh Ali Lansana is author or editor of twenty books. He is a faculty member of the Writing Program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Lansana served as Director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University from 2002 to 2011.
Sandra Jackson-Opoku has authored two novels. The River Where Blood is Born earned the American Library Association Black Caucus Award for Best Fiction; Hot Johnny (and the Women Whom Loved Him) was an Essence magazine bestseller. Her fiction, poetry, articles, essays, and scripts have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Ms. magazine, the Literary Traveler, Islands Magazine, and elsewhere.
Publication Date: January 2017