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This Is My Century: New and Collected Poems

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Margaret Walker became the first African American to win a national literary award when her collection For My People was chosen for the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1942. Over the next fifty years she enriched American literature in endless ways through her writings and, in 1993, she received the National Book Award for Lifetime Achievement.

This Is My Century is Walker's own defining summation of her career. Selected by the author herself, the one hundred poems include thirty-seven previously uncollected pieces and the entire contents of three hard-to-find volumes: the award-winning For My People (1942), Prophets for a New Day (1970), and October Journey (1975).

ISBN-13: 9780820345970

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: University of Georgia Press

Publication Date: 10-15-2013

Pages: 256

Product Dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

MARGARET WALKER (1915-1998) wrote poetry, essays, the novel Jubilee, and a biography of Richard Wright. She created pioneering programs in the humanities and African American studies at Jackson State University, where she was a faculty member for almost three decades.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Looking Up, Margaret Walker Nikky Finney xi

Introduction: Margaret Walker and the Practice of Poetry Maryemma Graham xvii

Preface xxxvii

Acknowledgments xlv

For My People

Foreword to For My People, 1942 Stephen Vincent Benét 3

For My People 6

Dark Blood 8

We Have Been Believers 9

Southern Song 11

Sorrow Home 12

The Spirituals* 13

Ex-Slave* 14

Delta 15

Lineage 21

Since 1619 22

People of Unrest 23

Today 24

Molly Means 26

Bad-Man Stagolee 28

Poppa Chicken 29

Kissie Lee 31

Yalluh Hammuh 33

Two-Gun Buster and Trigger Slim 35

Teacher 37

Gus, the Lineman 39

Long John Nelson and Sweetie Pie 42

Big John Henry 44

Childhood 46

Whores 47

Iowa Farmer 48

Memory 49

Our Need 50

The Struggle Staggers Us 51

Prophets for a New Day

Street Demonstration 55

Girl Held Without Bail 56

Now 57

Sit-Ins 59

The Ballad of the Free 60

Jackson, Mississippi 62

Oxford Is a Legend 64

Birmingham 65

How Many Silent Centuries Sleep in My Sultry Veins? 67

At the Lincoln Monument in Washington, August 28, 1963 68

For Malcolm X 70

For Andy Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney 71

Prophets for a New Day 74

Jeremiah 76

Isaiah 77

Amos, 1963 78

Amos (Postscript, 1968) 79

Joel 80

Hosea 82

Micah 83

Ballad of the Hoppy-Toad 84

Elegy 87

October Journey

October Journey 91

Harriet Tubman 94

Epitaph for My Father 100

Ode on the Occasion of the Inauguration of the Sixth President of Jackson State College 108

Dear Are the Names That Charmed Me in My Youth 112

I Want to Write 113

For Gwen, 1969 114

For Paul Laurence Dunbar 115

For Mary McLeod Bethune 116

Tribute to Robert Hayden 117

For Owen Dodson, 1983 119

Ballad for Phillis Wheatley 122

A Litany from the Dark People 124

This is My Century

This Is My Century 129

Giants of My Century 135

Five Black Men … 139

On Death and the Resurrection 145

My Mississippi Spring 146

Black Paramour 147

A Litany of Black History for Black People 149

On Youth and Age 152

My Truth and My Flame 158

Chicago 159

1933 160

Monologue 161

On Youth and Age II 163

Disillusion for Flower Children of Long Ago 167

Old Age 169

I Hear a Rumbling 170

Dies Irae 174

Love Song for Alex, 1979 175

Medgar Evers, 1925-1963 176

Birmingham, 1963 177

Jackson State, May 15, 1970 178

The Telly Boob-Tube on the Idiot Box 180

Africa 182

Money, Honey, Money 186

On Police Brutality 187

Power to the People 188

They Have Put Us on Hold 189

Inflation Blues 191

Solace 193

Fanfare, Coda, and Finale 194

Farish Street

The African Village 199

A Patchwork Quilt 201

The Crystal Palace 202

The House of Prayer 203

Small Black World 205

Black Magic 207

The Labyrinth of Life 209