Booker T & Them
In the historical and imaginative narrative of this "bio-poem," Harris considers several African Americans who sought to be men that mattered in a racist America, including Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. DuBois, William Monroe Trotter, George Washington Carver, and Jack Johnson, as he traces their effects on history and each other. In tandem, he visits white historical figures like Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt, and D. W. Griffiths as well as some invented characters like students and professors at the Tuskegee Institute. Throughout, Harris shows that the rapid pace of early twentieth-century American change, progress, and science coincided with persistent and reinvented forms of white supremacy. Harris's exciting structure offers varied rhythms and a blues sensibility that showcases his witty lines and vivid imagery.
As a follow-up to his 2009 work Birth of a Notion; Or, the Half Ain't Never Been Told, this book extends Harris's critical and experimental examination of American history by presenting evidence for a greater understanding of these men and the cultural forces that shaped them. Readers interested in African American studies, American culture, and contemporary poetry will appreciate the unique perspective of Booker T. & Them: A Blues.
About the Author
"Booker T & Them, a bio-poem, traces the dank holes of Jim Crow during the early twentieth century while examining the psyche of men who donned masks of minstrelsy to survive its landmines. No ghosts here-just ancestors with grit and fortitude!"—Hilda Vest, poet and publisher of Coda & Riffs, Broadside Press, Detroit
"Bill Harris is brilliant. Very few writers can synthesize an era of history, features of its epoch making events, the biographical details of figures from that era, and render them in an aesthetically sophisticated book-length prose poem or set of poems."—Vershawn Ashanti Young, Author of Your Average Nigga (Wayne State University Press, 2007) and Editor of from Bourgeois to Boojie (Wayne State University Press, 2011)
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