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In her first collection of poems, Kansas native Amy Fleury captures images of dragging clotheslines, baked lawns, and sweet potato babies, inserting them with an earnest dignity into her stories of midwestern life. Beautiful Trouble explores the subtleties of landscape, place, families, girlhood, womanhood, and everyday existence on the prairie. Fleury writes of the Midwest with authenticity, speaks of romance with delicate allure, and recalls the heartbreak of childhood without self-pity. In meditations on resilience and life’s contradictions, Fleury engages her characters fully and paints their souls and sensations evenly in language both rare and beautiful. She is a poet in love with sound and its power to summon majesty from quotidian scenes. Her poems are brief and striking, depending on exquisite word choice and balance to achieve a simple order on the page.
Recapturing the celebratory voice of Africa in poems that are both contemporary and traditional, Liberian-born Patricia Jabbeh Wesley weaves lyrical storytelling with oral history and images of Africa and America, revealing powerful insights about the relationship between strength and tragedy—and finding reason to celebrate even in the presence of war, difficulties, and death. Rooted in myths that can be traced to the Grebo tradition, Becoming Ebony portrays Liberian-born Wesley’s experiences of village talk and civil war as well as her experiences of the pain of her mother’s death and the difficulties of rearing a family away from home in the United States, and explores the questions of living in the African Diaspora. Turning on the African proverb of “the wandering child” and the metaphor of the ebony tree—which is beautiful in life and death— these poems delve into issues of human suffering and survival, plainly and beautifully chronicling what happens “after the sap is gone.”
The History of Battery I, 2nd Regiment, Illinois Light Artillery
Much has been written of the infantry and the cavalry during the Civil War, but little attention has been paid the artillery. Through the battles of Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge in 1863 and the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 and with General Sherman’s forces on the famous March to the Sea, the acts of a courageous fighting group are vividly recounted in Behind the Guns: The History of Battery I, 2nd Regiment, Illinois Light Artillery. Originally published in 1965 in a limited edition, this regimental history of a light artillery unit was written by three of its soldiers, including the bugler.
Battery I was formed in 1861 by Charles W. Keith of Joliet and Henry B. Plant of Peoria. More than a hundred men were mustered into service in December near Springfield and left for Cairo in February 1862. The battery trained at Camp Paine across the Ohio River in Kentucky until March, when the men were dispatched to the South. During the war, the Battery was attached to three different armies: the Army of the Mississippi, the Army of the Ohio, and the Army of the Cumberland.
Clyde C. Walton’s foreword and the narrative discuss the variety of weapons used by the unit, including James, Parrott, and Rodman guns and the bronze, muzzle-loading Napoleons that fired twelve-pound projectiles. The book also includes an account of the prisoner-of-war experience of Battery I lieutenant Charles McDonald, biographical sketches of the battery soldiers, and eighteen maps and five line drawings.
An Anthology of African Love Poetry
From the ancient Egyptian inventors of the love lyric to contemporary poets, Bending the Bow: An Anthology of African Love Poetry gathers together both written and sung love poetry from Africa.
This anthology is a work of literary archaeology that lays bare a genre of African poetry that has been overshadowed by political poetry. Frank Chipasula has assembled a historically and geographically comprehensive wealth of African love poetry that spans more than three thousand years. By collecting a continent’s celebrations and explorations of the nature of love, he expands African literature into the sublime territory of the heart.
Bending the Bow traces the development of African love poetry from antiquity to modernity while establishing a cross-millennial dialogue. The anonymously written love poems from Pharaonic Egypt that open the anthology both predate Biblical love poetry and reveal the longevity of written love poetry in Africa. The middle section is devoted to sung love poetry from all regions of the continent. These great works serve as the foundation for modern poetry and testify to love poetry’s omnipresence in Africa. The final section, showcasing forty-eight modern African poets, celebrates the genre’s continuing vitality. Among those represented are Muyaka bin Hajji and Shaaban Robert, two major Swahili poets; Gabriel Okara, the innovative though underrated Nigerian poet; Léopold Sédar Senghor, the first president of Senegal and a founder of the Negritude Movement in francophone African literature; Rashidah Ismaili from Benin; Flavien Ranaivo from Madagascar; and Gabeba Baderoon from South Africa.
Ranging from the subtly suggestive to the openly erotic, this collection highlights love’s endurance in a world too often riven by contention. Bending the Bow bears testimony to poetry’s role as conciliator while opening up a new area of study for scholars and students.
Research as a Lived Process
This collection of highly readable essays reveals that research is not restricted to library archives. When researchers pursue information and perspectives from sources beyond the archives—from existing people and places— they are often rewarded with unexpected discoveries that enrich their research and their lives.
Beyond the Archives: Research as a Lived Process presents narratives that demystify and illuminate the research process by showing how personal experiences, family history, and scholarly research intersect. Editors Gesa E. Kirsch and Liz Rohan emphasize how important it is for researchers to tap into their passions, pursuing research subjects that attract their attention with creativity and intuition without limiting themselves to traditional archival sources and research methods.
Eighteen contributors from a number of disciplines detail inspiring research opportunities that led to recently published works, while offering insights on such topics as starting and finishing research projects, using a wide range of types of sources and methods, and taking advantage of unexpected leads, chance encounters and simple clues. In addition, the narratives trace the importance of place in archival research, the parallels between the lives of research subjects and researchers, and explore archives as sites that resurrect personal, cultural, and historical memory.
Beyond the Archives sheds light on the creative, joyful, and serendipitous nature of research, addressing what attracts researchers to their subjects, as well as what inspires them to produce the most thorough, complete, and engaged scholarly work. This timely and essential volume supplements traditional-method textbooks and effectively models concrete practices of retrieving and synthesizing information by professional researchers.
In Jon Pineda’s debut collection Birthmark, loss takes the shape of a scar, memory the shape of a childhood, and identity the shape of a birthmark on a lover’s thigh. Like water taking the form of its container, Pineda’s poems swell to fill the lines of his experiences. Against the backdrop of Tidewater, Virginia’s crabs and cicadas, Pineda invokes his mestizo—the Tagalog word for being half Filipino—childhood, weaving laments for a tenuous paternal relationship and the loss of a sibling. Channeling these fragmented memories into a new discovery of self, Birthmark reclaims an identity, delicate yet unrelenting, with plaintive tones marked equally by pain, reflection, and redemption.
Racial Atrocities and Reprisals in the Civil War
Black Flag over Dixie: Racial Atrocities and Reprisals in the Civil War highlights the central role that race played in the Civil War by examining some of the ugliest incidents that played out on its battlefields. Challenging the American public’s perception of the Civil War as a chivalrous family quarrel, twelve rising and prominent historians show the conflict to be a wrenching social revolution whose bloody excesses were exacerbated by racial hatred.
Edited by Gregory J. W. Urwin, this compelling volume focuses on the tendency of Confederate troops to murder black Union soldiers and runaway slaves and divulges the details of black retaliation and the resulting cycle of fear and violence that poisoned race relations during Reconstruction. In a powerful introduction to the collection, Urwin reminds readers that the Civil War was both a social and a racial revolution. As the heirs and defenders of a slave society’s ideology, Confederates considered African Americans to be savages who were incapable of waging war in a civilized fashion. Ironically, this conviction caused white Southerners to behave savagely themselves. Under the threat of Union retaliation, the Confederate government backed away from failing to treat the white officers and black enlisted men of the United States Colored Troops as legitimate combatants. Nevertheless, many rebel commands adopted a no-prisoners policy in the field. When the Union’s black defenders responded in kind, the Civil War descended to a level of inhumanity that most Americans prefer to forget.
In addition to covering the war’s most notorious massacres at Olustee, Fort Pillow, Poison Spring, and the Crater, Black Flag over Dixie examines the responses of Union soldiers and politicians to these disturbing and unpleasant events, as well as the military, legal, and moral considerations that sometimes deterred Confederates from killing all black Federals who fell into their hands. Twenty photographs and a map of massacre and reprisal sites accompany the volume.
The contributors are Gregory J. W. Urwin, Anne J. Bailey, Howard C. Westwood, James G. Hollandsworth Jr., David J. Coles, Albert Castel, Derek W. Frisby, Weymouth T. Jordan Jr., Gerald W. Thomas, Bryce A. Suderow, Chad L. Williams, and Mark Grimsley.
Concentrating on the performance and presence of blacks in the Louisiana legislature from the Civil War through Reconstruction, Vincent shows that although black legislators were a minority, they were not powerless.
In The Black Ocean, poet Brian Barker attempts to make sense of some of the darkest chapters in history while peering forward to what lies ahead as the world totters in the wake of human complacence. Unveiled here are ruminations on human torture, the Chernobyl disaster, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and genocide against Native Americans. The ghosts of Lincoln, Poe, and Billie Holiday manifest from pages laden with grim prophecies and catastrophes both real and imagined. These hauntingly intense documentary poems reflect on the past in an attempt to approach it with more clarity and understanding, while offering blistering insight into the state of the world today. Barker touches upon the power of manipulation and class oppression; the depths of fear and the struggle for social justice; and reveals how failure to act—on the parts of both politicians and everyday citizens—can have the most devastating effects of all.
Throughout the volume looms the specter of the black ocean itself, a powerful metaphor for all our collective longings and despair, as we turn to face a menacing and uncertain future.
Lullaby for the Last Night on Earth
When at last we whisper, so long, so lonesome,
and watch our house on the horizon
go down like a gasping zeppelin of bricks,
we’ll turn, holding hands,
and walk the train tracks to the sea . . .
So sing me that song where a mountain falls
in love with an octopus, and one thousand fireflies
ricochet around their heads,
and I’ll dream we’re dancing in the kitchen one last time,
swaying, the window a waystation
of flaming leaves, the dogs shimmying
about our legs,
dragging their golden capes of rain . . .
O my critter, my thistle, gal-o-my-dreams,
lift your voice like an oar into the darkness,
for all the sad birds are falling down—
Nothing in this night is ours.
In the pre-Civil War and Civil War periods the Illinois black code deprived blacks of suffrage and court rights, and the Illinois Free Schools Act kept most black children out of public schooling.
But, as McCaul documents, they did not sit idly by. They applied the concepts of “bargaining power” (rewarding, punishing, and dialectical) and the American ideal of “community” to participate in winning two major victories during this era.
By the use of dialectical power, exerted mainly via John Jones’ tract, The Black Laws of Illinois, they helped secure the repeal of the state’s black code; by means of punishing power, mainly through boycotts and ‘‘invasions,’’ they exerted pressures that brought a cancellation of the Chicago public school policy of racial segregation.
McCaul makes clear that the blacks’ struggle for school rights is but one of a number of such struggles waged by disadvantaged groups (women, senior citizens, ethnics, and immigrants). He postulates a “stage’’ pattern for the history of the black struggle—a pattern of efforts by federal and state courts to change laws and constitutions, followed by efforts to entice, force, or persuade local authorities to comply with the laws and constitutional articles and with the decrees of the courts.