The intricate complexities of the Black experience permeates within the cultural and historical layers of America. Black Americans, since the earliest days of the formation of this nation, have strived with grace, vision and aptitude to tell their stories in such a penetratingly vulnerable manner, that the tradition of Black literature has survived and evolved with the birth of each new generation.

The tradition of documenting the reality of Black life through prose, poetry, essays and academic books holds steadfast in this post-modern era. Here are two books that offer a myriad of perspectives from creative Black voices.

Lunar Phoenix: An Anthology of Black Voices (Quail Bell Press)

Lunar Phoenix is an upcoming collection of short stories, poetry and essays by an array of incredible Black writers. One of the 34 authors who have contributed to the book, Jordan A. McCray, describes Lunar Phoenix as a collection that “creates a channel for Black writers to define their experience as “I traverse through each and every space in this world, I know I matter equally in all of them.”

Due for release in September 2022, this book offers readers an opportunity to engage with imaginative, intelligent writers who share their extraordinary gifts. “Steven Van Patten’s dystopian story illustrates the suspenseful mission of a teenager completing his pizza delivery route in a white neighborhood, encountering discrimination, hatred and racial profiling from the moment he passes through its gates and Anita Shaw’s maternal poem reveals the fears and dreams she has for her son, whom she will have to raise painfully aware of prejudice for his own safety, in a world that vilifies their community.”

It is vitally important that the Black community supports such anthologies in order to preserve the literary expression of our artists. 

Black Age: Oceanic Lifespans and the Time of Black Life by Habiba Ibrahim (NYU Press)

Black Age is a poignant book that journeys through the lifespans of the Black body since the emergence of trans-Atlantic slavery. The book “tracks the struggle between the abuses of Black exclusion from Western humanism and the reclamation of non-normative Black life, arguing that, if some of us are brave, it is because we dare to live lives considered incomprehensible within a schema of ‘human time.’”

We as a culture struggle to find a healthy space to understand our relationships with time. The daily struggle to survive in an aggressive cultural landscape robs us of an abundant, and even minimal allotment of freedom to truly self-examine our place in the world, and our surroundings truly affect us on macro and micro levels.

“Focusing on Black literary culture of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Habiba Ibrahim examines how the history of trans-Atlantic slavery and the constitution of modern Blackness has been reimagined through the embodiment of age.”

Black lives not only to matter, but they are the fabric of American culture. Our stories must become central to the historical lexicon of America if we are to enjoy a future of free thought and safety. These books look inward and offer depth and progression of the Black American existence.

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