"Maxwell has edited this comprehensive volume superbly, hunting down every last poem... [He] has deepened our sense of McKay's life and increased our respect for the independence of mind behind all his work." Times Literary Supplement "A volume that no student of the Harlem Renaissance ... or negritude, diaspora, and Caribbean language literature can live without... A vital contribution to black studies." African American Review "Maxwell's introduction offers a fascinating overview of McKay's life and a spirited defense of his poetry." Los Angeles TimesVom Verlag:
Containing more than three hundred poems, including nearly a hundred published here for the first time, this collection showcases the range and dynamism of Claude McKay (1889-1948), the Jamaican-born poet whose life and poetry were marked by restless travel and steadfast social protest. His first poems were composed in rural Jamaican dialect and launched his lifelong commitment to representing everyday black culture from the bottom up. McKay migrated to New York, reinvigorating the standard English sonnet and helping to spark the Harlem Renaissance with poems such as "If We Must Die."Coming under scrutiny for his Bolshevist views, McKay left America in 1922 and spent twelve years travelling the world. When he returned to Harlem in 1934, having denounced Stalin's Soviet Union, his pristine "Violent sonnets" gave way to confessional lyrics strongly informed by his newfound Catholicism. McKay's verse eludes easy definition, which is why this complete anthology, vividly introduced and carefully annotated by William Maxwell, is at once necessary and rewarding. Here the reader can trace the complex, transnational evolution of a major voice in twentieth-century poetry.
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