The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry

Penguin has updated its essential reference on modern American poetry, and for the first time, it is edited by a black poet: Rita Dove. The volume went on sale Oct. 25. Here are some of the African Americans she selected.

James Weldon Johnson

Carl Van Vechten 1932

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 "And God stepped out on space,/And he looked around and said:/I'm lonely—/I'll make me a world."

Excerpted from "The Creation"

Claude McKay

George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress)

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"Applauding youths laughed with young prostitutes/And watched her perfect, half-clothed body sway;/Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes/Blown by black players upon a picnic day."

Excerpted from "The Harlem Dancer"

Jean Toomer

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"Hair—braided chestnut,/coiled like a lyncher's rope"

Excerpted from "Portrait in Georgia"

Langston Hughes

Gordon Parks, 1942

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"I am the darker brother./They send me to eat in the kitchen/When company comes."

Excerpted from "I, Too"

Robert Hayden

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"this man, superb in love and logic, this man/shall be remembered."

Excerpted from "Frederick Douglass"

Gwendolyn Brooks

Miami Dade College

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"Abortions will not let you forget./You remember the children you got that you did not get,/The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,/The singers and workers that never handled the air."

Excerpted from "The Mother"

Amiri Baraka

Z. Risasi Dais

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"Calling black people/Calling all black people, man woman child/Wherever you are, calling you, urgent, come in"

Excerpted from "SOS"

Audre Lorde

K. Kendell

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"I have not been able to touch the destruction/within me./But unless I learn to use/the difference between poetry and rhetoric/my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold"

Excerpted from "Power"

Lucille Clifton

St. Mary's College

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"these hips are big hips/ they need space to/move around in."

Excerpted from "homage to my hips"

Ai

M.P. Sirait

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"I'm fourteen. I'm a wind from nowhere./I can break your heart."

Excerpted from "The Kid"

Yusef Komunyakaa

Tom Wallace

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"I close my eyes & can see/men drawing lines in the dust./America pushes through the membrane/ of mist & smoke, & I’m a small boy/again in Bogalusa."

Excerpted from "To Do Street"

Harryette Mullen

University of California Press

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"If nature abhors an expensive appliance, why does the planet suck ozone?"

Excerpted from "Black Nikes"

Rita Dove

Fred Viebahn

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"Along the Avenue, the cabs start up, heading/toward midtown; neon stutters into ecstasy"

Excerpted from "Claudette Colvin Goes to Work"

Natasha Trethewey

Jeff Etheridge

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"the hot comb singeing her brow,/sweat glistening above her lips,/her face made strangely beautiful/as only suffering can do."

Excerpted from "Hot Combs"

Terrance Hayes

Yona Harvey

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"in a room of smoke, nightclub tinkering with lovers in the dark, cigarette flares,/ gin & tonic. This is where the heartache/blooms."

Excerpted from "Lady Sings the Blues"