Voices Beyond Bondage

An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century

Edited by Erika DeSimone and Fidel Louis

Title Details

Pages: 352

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in

Formats

Hardcover

Pub Date: 10/01/2014

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8298-6

List Price: $28.95

Voices Beyond Bondage

An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century

Edited by Erika DeSimone and Fidel Louis

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  • Reviews

Slaves in chains, toiling on master's plantation. Beatings, bloodied whips. This is what many of us envision when we think of 19th century African Americans; source materials penned by those who suffered in bondage validate this picture. Yet slavery was not the only identity of 19th century African Americans. Whether they were freeborn, self-liberated, or born in the years after the Emancipation, African Americans had a rich cultural heritage all their own, a heritage largely subsumed in popular history and collective memory by the atrocity of slavery.

The early 19th century birthed the nation's first black-owned periodicals, the first media spaces to provide primary outlets for the empowerment of African American voices. For many, poetry became this empowerment. Almost every black-owned periodical featured an open call for poetry, and African Americans, both free and enslaved, responded by submitting droves of poems for publication. Yet until now, these poems-and an entire literary movement-have been lost to modern readers.

The poems in Voices Beyond Bondage address the horrific and the mundane, the humorous and the ordinary and the extraordinary. Authors wrote about slavery, but also about love, morality, politics, perseverance, nature, and God. These poems evidence authors who were passionate, dedicated, vocal, and above all resolute in a bravery which was both weapon and shield against a world of prejudice and inequity. These authors wrote to be heard; more than 150 years later it is at last time for us to listen.

A fascinating collection that effectively accomplishes what its editors, DeSimone and Louis, set out to do, which is to reclaim these voices, temporarily lost in old files and microfiche, and to share "a more complex understanding of African American history-and American history as a whole-and provide insight into the literary, cultural, and political movements of these troubling years." - Writing and Ruminating

—Source

George Moses Horton wasn't supposed to be able to read. As a black slave in rural North Carolina, he definitely wasn't supposed to be able to compose sonnets and ballads. But on July 18, 1828, his poem "Slavery" appeared in the newspaper Freedom's Journal. Two researchers are bringing attention to poets like Horton though their book, Voices Beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th
Century.

To many, the black literary movement starts with Jupiter Hammon and Phyllis Wheatley, then skips all the way to Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, and the Harlem Renaissance with little to no thought about the poets in the interim. But poetry was a common part of the glue of the black community. The black newspaper saw its job not to just inform, educate, and entertain, but also to serve as an outlet for black literature that was ignored by the mainstream white press. This collection aims to fill in gaps in the commonly accepted history of black poetry.

Voices Beyond Bondage covers the gamut of African American poetry from 1827 to 1899. The work expands the field of black poetry, disproves the myth that 19th-century African Americans were illiterate or uneducated, and should be a welcome addition to any historian or poetry lover's library. - Jesse Holland, Associated Press

—Source

DeSimone and Louis's work expands the field of black poetry, disproves the myth that 19th-century African Americans were illiterate or uneducated, and should be a welcome addition to any historian or poetry lover's library. - Star Tribune

—Source

This well-wrought and powerful anthology of poems reminds us of the richness and variety of African American culture. Published during slavery and the years after emancipation, from 1827 to 1899, these poems reflect a tumultuous time in American history. Quite apart from the literary significance of the poems themselves, this carefully curated volume provides an extraordinary contribution to historical understanding. - Orville Vernon Burton, Creativity Professor of Humanities, Clemson University, and author of Age of Lincoln and In My Father's House Are Many Mansions

—Source

Voices Beyond Bondage reveals a mostly unacknowledged 19th-century literary movement and gives readers a fresh perspective on African American poets from the antebellum and postbellum periods. The anthology will be valued as a rich resource for libraries, students, and scholars of both literature and history. - Julian Bond, Chairman Emeritus, NAACP

—Source

Voices Beyond Bondage, edited by Erika DeSimone and Fidel Louis, collects the poems of African Americans of the 19th century into an historically significant volume, the first to focus on writings from black-owned presses. The book is a collection of 150 poems culled from black-owned newspapers of the era, and offers a fresh perspective on African-American life
and identity.

These poems are not the work of a few elite literary masters but rather have been written by ordinary people, people who were thoughtful, insightful, and compelled to verse-despite being born into a world of fundamental inequity. Whether these authors were formally schooled or self-taught, whether they were slaves, free peoples or the descendants of slaves, they put ink to paper and declared their passions in verse.

Voices rekindles the voice of those who have been all but overlooked in American literature, and presents for lovers of poetry and scholars of the African American experience alike a new literary territory waiting to be explored. - The Times and Democrat

—Source

Voices Beyond Bondage is a scrupulously researched and edited collections of poems from 19th-century black-owned presses that brings back to life a grassroots literary movement forgotten in time. The anthology provides what editors DeSimone and Louis call "a different, more nuanced view of African American history," countering stereotypes of blacks as illiterate and inferior. - Allison Griffin, Montgomery Advertiser

—Source

The diverse array of subject matter and the emotional range of the poems are anything but conventional and point to the rich cultural, political, and inner lives both of those who suffered under the bonds of slavery and those who won their freedom. - ArtsATL

—Source

About the Author/Editor

Erika DeSimone (Editor)
ERIKA DESIMONE earned her undergraduate degree from Westfield State University (Massachusetts), where she engaged with poetry and other creative writing projects. She later earned a Certificate of Editorial Study from New York University's School of Professional Studies. She is currently an editorial assistant at the Modern Language Association, where she has worked for more than a decade.

Fidel Louis (Editor)
FIDEL LOUIS earned bachelor's and master's degrees from New York University. While in graduate school, he began writing and editing articles for Haiti Observateur and The Alliance. He later was a contributing writer to the New York Amsterdam News and managing editor of the Caribbean News Network. He is fluent in five languages and is a certified New York State Court interpreter. He is currently a business consultant for both private-sector and government projects.