Friday, July 31, 2020

77 poems about vulnerable black boys & black men (for Jerry W. Ward, Jr.'s birthday)

Amiri Baraka and Jerry W. Ward, Jr. -- September 2004

My book on African American writers and creativity focuses on vulnerable black boys and bad men. I started thinking in serious ways about representations of vulnerable black boys in literary art over twenty years ago when I first encountered Jerry W. Ward Jr.'s "Don't Be Fourteen (in Mississippi)."     

In honor of Ward on his 77th birthday today, I decided to curate a list of 77 poems focusing on vulnerable black boys, bad men, and black men in general. 
black boys and childhood reflections 
• "Don't Be Fourteen (in Mississippi)" by Jerry W. Ward Jr.
• "The Whipping" by Robert Hayden
• "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks
• "Letters to Joe Frazier from Mike Tyson" by Derrick Harriell
• "The Lost Boys: A Requiem" by Reginald Harris
• "Po' Boy Blues" by Langston Hughes
• "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes
• "leadbelly’s lessons" by Tyehimba Jess 

black fathers 
• "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden
• "Bereavement" By Kevin Young  

Black men and music 
• "Jazz to Jackson to John" by Jerry W. Ward, Jr.
• "Digging Max" by Amiri Baraka
• "lomax v. leadbelly in new york: letters to home, 1934" by Tyehimba Jess
• “Don’t Cry, Scream” By Haki Madhubuti
• "Milestones" by Eugene B. Redmond
• "Juju” By Askia Toure
• “Ode to John Coltrane” By Quincy Troupe
• "The Armageddon of Funk" by Michael Warr

On slavery 
• "Toussaint" by James E. Cherry
• "White Glove Test" by Vievee Francis
• "Drummer Boy" by Vievee Francis
• "Flight to Canada" by Ishmael Reed  
• "Peeling Off the Skin" by Opal Palmer Adisa
• "Nat Turner Dreams of Insurrection" by Elizabeth Alexander 
• "Nat Turner in the Clearing" by Alvin Aubert
• "In Mr. Turner's Fields" by Sam Cornish 
• "The Ballad of Nat Turner" by Robert Hayden

Ward -- Natchez, Mississippi 2008

Frederick Douglass 
• "Frederick Douglass" by Paul Laurence Dunbar
• "Douglass" by Paul Laurence Dunbar
• "Douglass in London 1861" by Reginald Flood
• "Douglass in Cedar Hill" by Reginald Flood 
• "Douglass in London 1854" by Reginald Flood
• "Frederick Douglass Speaks before the Anti-Mexican War Abolitionists" by Vievee Francis 
• "Frederick Douglass" by Robert Hayden
• "Frederick Douglass: 1817-1895" by Langston Hughes  
• "Frederick Douglass and the Slave Breaker" by Dudley Randall 
• "Douglass, a Last Letter" by Tim Seibles
• "From the Lost Letters of Frederick Douglass" by Evie Shockley
• "(mis)takes one to know one" by Evie Shockley

Bad men 
• "RhythmBlues" by Amiri Baraka
• "I Laugh Talk Joke" by Henry Dumas
• "How I Got Born" by Cornelius Eady
• "Soft Targets" by Essex Hemphill  
• "I, Too" by Langston Hughes
•  "Bad Man" by Langston Hughes 
• "I Sing of Shine" by Etheridge Knight  
• "Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem" By Helene Johnson
• "Battle Royale" By Adrian Matejka
• "Sporting Life" - audio - By Adrian Matejka 
• "Fisticuffs" - audio - By Adrian Matejka
• "Poppa Stoppa Speaks from His Grave" by Larry Neal
• "Skinhead" by Patricia Smith
• "Bad-Man Stagolee" by Margaret Walker    
• "Black Cat Blues" By Kevin Young
• "Dirty Deal Blues" By Kevin Young
• "Bling Bling Blues" by Kevin Young

Tony Bolden, Eugene B. Redmond, and Ward -- Lawrence, Kansas 2013

Malcolm X
• "Saint Malcolm" By Johari Amini
• "A Poem for Black Hearts" By Amiri Baraka
• "Malcolm X" By Gwendolyn Brooks
• "For Malcolm, U.S.A." By James Emanuel
• "El-hajj Malik El-shabazz" By Robert Hayden
• "It Was a Funky Deal" by Etheridge Knight
• "For Malcolm, A Year After" By Etheridge Knight 
• "Malcolm Spoke/Who Listened?" By Haki Madhubuti
• "Malcolm X--An Autobiography" By Larry Neal
• "The Summer After Malcolm" By Larry Neal
• “Poems for Malcolm” By Carolyn Rodgers
• "Malcolm" By Sonia Sanchez
• "malcolm" By Welton Smith
• "For Malcolm X" By Margaret Walker

• "wishes for sons" By Lucille Clifton 
• "I Heard That" by Jon Eckels 
• "I Do Not Know the Spelling of Money" by Tongo Eisen-Martin
• "Assume the Position" by Jive Poetic 

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