October 1, 2024
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v2.1 Reference

Between the Night and Its Music

New and Selected Poems

Classic and new work by poet and jazz writer A. B. Spellman

A. B. Spellman is an acclaimed American poet, music critic, and arts administrator. He is widely recognized as a leading figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, a cultural and literary movement that emphasized Black identity, pride, and artistic expression. Between the Night and Its Music brings together A. B. Spellman's early work with a collection of powerful new poems. Spellman's literary career took flight in 1965 with his debut poetry collection, The Beautiful Days, which introduced his distinctive voice blending elements of jazz, blues, and African oral traditions. In 1966, Four Lives in the Bebop Business established Spellman as a respected music critic and scholar. It was a groundbreaking work that chronicled the lives and struggles of four influential jazz musicians. Spellman held senior positions at the National Endowment for the Arts for thirty years with lasting impact on arts funding for inner cities and rural and tribal communities. In addition to poems from The Beautiful Days (1965) and Things I Must Have Known (2008), this book contains a trove of new and uncollected poems, confirming Spellman's continued centrality to contemporary American literature. This is an essential volume for readers already familiar with Spellman, and an excellent introduction for new readers. Lauri Scheyer's introduction situates Spellman's work within jazz writing, Black Arts, and American poetry broadly.

[sample text]


a dancer's world
is walls, movement
confined: music

god's last breath.
rhythm: the last beating
of his heart. a dancer

follows that sound, blind
to its source, toward walls
with others. she cannot dance alone

she thinks of thought
as windows, as ice around the dance
can you break it? move

About the Authors

ALFRED BENNETT (A. B.) SPELLMAN is a poet and jazz critic whose books include The Beautiful Days (1964), Four Lives (1966), and Things I Must Have Known (2008). His work at the NEA was honored with the establishment of the A. B. Spellman Award for Jazz Advocacy. He has served on panels such as the Rockefeller Panel and as a member of the Advisory Group for the African-American Museum of the Smithsonian Institute. LAURI SCHEYER is Xiaoxiang Scholars Program Distinguished Professor and founding Director of the British and American Poetry Research Center at Hunan Normal University (China). Her many prior books include A History of African American Poetry and Slave Songs and the Birth of African American Poetry.


"Between the Night and Its Music is a revelation from an architect of the Black Arts Movement. This is a book to read and re-read for the music it helps us hear, and its own music."—Anthony Reed, author of Freedom Time: The Poetics and Politics of Black Experimental Writing

"This collection of A. B. Spellman's poetry captures the 'sensuality of a collective consciousness.' Spellman uses these words to describe the Black Arts Movement (the movement that set his poetics in motion). This necessary book shows that his entire poetic flow has been a profound movement of words that create the sensuality, music, and quiet of a Black collective consciousness."—Margo Natalie Crawford, University of Pennsylvania
Wesleyan University Press
Wesleyan Poetry Series

October 1, 2024
$30.00 USD

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