Sam Cornish writes about the black experience with an uncanny ear for the details of speech and a keenly historical sensibility. These poems draw the reader into early bus boycotts, red scares, and the lives of fascinating figures like Joe Louis, Sojourner Truth, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. In the latter poem, Cornish gets a strong, bluesy feel that gives the reader a good idea of how important sound and flow are in Cornish's work: "talking / singing / cocky in his Stetson hat /said/(me and my guitar /makes everything all / right)."
From Library Journal
Cornish's fourth collection offers clear, direct poems that pull at the heart. There is a wealth of history in this collection, whose subjects--Joe Louis, John Coltrane, Frederick Douglas, and Booker T. Washington, among others--are well known in the African American community. However, Cornish ( Songs of Jubilee: New and Selected Poems , Unicorn Pr., 1986) sheds new light on historical figures who have pushed against the whirlwinds of oppression and succeeded: "I remember my father, our southern fathers, our Negro fathers. They/taught me to say, 'yes sir,' but what they felt (meant) was not, 'yes!/ sir' but of ourselves, their sons and daughters." The Southern imagery here is vivid: "black/southern/ black boy/ shining/ like/ fine Sunday/ shoes." A list of historical references is included. Recommended for most collections, particularly where African American literature is popular.- Lenard D. Moore, Carolina African American Writers' Collective, Raleigh, N.C.
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