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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.
Recounting the experiences of black soldiers in the Civil War
In the ten probing essays collected in this volume, Howard C. Westwood recounts the often bitter experiences of black men who were admitted to military service and the wrenching problems associated with the shifting status of African Americans during the Civil War.
Black Troops, White Commanders, and Freedmen during the Civil War covers topics ranging from the roles played by Lincoln and Grant in beginning black soldiery to the sensitive issues that arose when black soldiers (and their white officers) were captured by the Confederates. The essays relate the exploits of black heroes such as Robert Smalls, who singlehandedly captured a Confederate steamer, as well as the experiences of the ignoble Reverend Fountain Brown, who became the first person charged with violating the Emancipation Proclamation.
Although many thousands were enlisted as soldiers, blacks were barred from becoming commissioned officers and for a long time they were paid far less than their white counterparts. These and other blatant forms of discrimination understandably provoked discontent among black troops which, in turn, sparked friction with their white commanders. Westwood's fascinating account of the artillery company from Rhode Island amply demonstrates how frustrations among black soldiers came to be seen as "mutiny" by some white officers.
A Study of Literary Allusions in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake
In Finnegans Wake, Joyce uses world literature as one of the most important and frequent of his sources. Setting out to explore these literary allusions, Atherton sheds a great deal of light upon other aspects of Joyce’s work.
A classic story of a young man’s journey to adulthood, The Boy of Battle Ford covers Blackman’s years growing up in early post-settlement Illinois, where he gave in to temptations such as drinking, gambling, and the lure of prostitutes before joining the army, finding God and becoming a preacher. Blackman, who notes that he is determined to “write facts” in this book, peppers his story with the sordid details of the sinful times of his life as well as with discussions of faith and of struggling to understand his God and his beliefs.
The Memoir of Johnnie Wickersham
Johnnie Wickersham was fourteen when he ran away from his Missouri home to fight for the Confederacy. Fifty years after the war, he wrote his memoir at the request of family and friends and distributed it privately in 1915. Boy Soldier of the Confederacy: The Memoir of Johnnie Wickersham offers not only a rare look into the Civil War through the eyes of a child but also a coming-of-age story.
Edited by Kathleen Gorman, the volume presents a new introduction and annotations that explain how the war was glorified over time, the harsh realities suppressed in the nation’s collective memory. Gorman describes a man who nostalgically remembers the boy he once was. She maintains that the older Wickersham who put pen to paper decades later likely glorified and embellished the experience, accepting a polished interpretation of his own past.
Wickersham recounts that during his first skirmish he was "wild with the ecstasy of it all" and notes that he was "too young to appreciate the danger." The memoir traces his participation in an October 1861 Confederate charge against Springfield, Missouri; his fight at the battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862; his stay at a plantation he calls Fairyland; and the battle of Corinth.
The volume details Wickersham’s assignment as an orderly for General Sterling Price, his capture at Vicksburg in 1863, his parole, and later his service with General John Bell Hood for the 1864 fighting around Atlanta. Wickersham also describes the Confederate surrender in New Orleans, the reconciliation of the North and the South, and his own return and reunification with his family.
While Gorman’s incisive introduction and annotations allow readers to consider how memories can be affected by the passage of time, Wickersham’s boy-turned-soldier tale offers readers an engaging narrative, detailing the perceptions of a child on the cusp of adulthood during a turbulent period in our nation’s history.
The Rise and Fall of the National Afro-American Council
Broken Brotherhood: The Rise and Fall of the National Afro-American Council gives a comprehensive account of the National Afro-American Council, the first truly nationwide U.S. civil rights organization, which existed from 1898 to 1908. Based on exhaustive research, the volume chronicles the Council’s achievements and its annual meetings and provides portraits of its key leaders.
Led by four of the most notable African American leaders of the time—journalist T. Thomas Fortune, Bishop Alexander Walters, educator Booker T. Washington, and Congressman George Henry White—the Council persevered for a decade despite structural flaws and external pressures that eventually led to its demise in 1908.
Author Benjamin R. Justesen provides historical context for the Council’s development during an era of unprecedented growth in African American organizations. Justesen establishes the National Afro-American Council as the earliest national arena for discussions of critical social and political issues affecting African Americans and the single most important united voice lobbying for protection of the nation’s largest minority. In a period marked by racial segregation, widespread disfranchisement, and lynching violence, the nonpartisan council helped establish two more enduring successor organizations, providing core leadership for both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League.
Broken Brotherhood traces the history of the Council and the complicated relationships among key leaders from its creation in Rochester in 1898 to its last gathering in Baltimore in 1907, drawing on both private correspondence and contemporary journalism to create a balanced historical portrait. Enhanced by thirteen illustrations, the volume also provides intriguing details about the ten national gatherings, describes the Council’s unsuccessful attempt to challenge disfranchisement before the U.S. Supreme Court, and sheds light on the gradual breakdown of Republican solidarity among African American leaders in the first decade of the twentieth century.
Theory and Practice for the Beginning Playwright
In Building Your Play: Theory and Practice for the Beginning Playwright, David Rush provides fundamental tools, strategies, and examples to help the novice playwright keep his or her play from being dull, confusing, or ineffective. A glossary of terms is included.
Ulysses S. Grant's Last Campaign
Early in 1885 Americans learned that General Ulysses S. Grant was writing his memoirs in a desperate race against time due to an incurable cancer. Newspaper readers followed the dramatic contest for six months, and the hearts of Americans were touched by the general’s last battle. In this book Thomas M. Pitkin tells the story of the last campaign of the general who was called “the great captain of the Union’s salvation.”