Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Voices beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Voices beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century

Article excerpt

Voices Beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century. Edited by Erika DeSimone and Fidel Louis. (Montgomery, Ala.: NewSouth Books, 2014. Pp. [xxxviii], 310. $28.95, ISBN 978-1-58838-298-6.) Erika DeSimone and Fidel Louis edit this collection of poems that were originally published in black-owned newspapers between 1827 and 1899. These poems, therefore, reflect black experiences before and after slavery, before and during the fever pitch of antebellum abolitionism, and during Reconstruction and the macro- and micro-level sociohistorical processes that coalesced into the emergence of Jim Crow following the Compromise of 1877 and the pivotal Civil Rights Cases (1883). After an introduction to the book and an essay describing the economic, political, and interpersonal exigencies that resulted in the rise and fall of black presses throughout the nineteenth century, the authors present the 150 poems they have selected out of about a thousand. The poems are arranged thematically, exploring articulations of freedom in the bowels of slavery, personal dedications to the living and the dead, admonitions to live morally respectable lives in black bodies, expressions of the quotidian and the silly, and ideas about the relationship between this world and the Christian hereafter. DeSimone and Louis's framing of the book is curious at times. …

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