cover image This Is the Honey: An Anthology of Contemporary Black Poets

This Is the Honey: An Anthology of Contemporary Black Poets

Edited by Kwame Alexander. Little, Brown, $35 (448p) ISBN 978-0-316-41752-5

This essential anthology, edited by poet and YA author Alexander (Why Fathers Cry at Night), includes work by more than 100 living Black poets, from Elizabeth Acevedo to Rita Dove. In his introduction, Alexander centers joy and wonder as guiding principles behind his selections, describing the anthology as “a gathering space for Black poets to honor and celebrate. To be romantic and provocative. To be unburdened and bodacious.” Indeed, joy permeates the poems, from Tony Medina’s ebullient “Black Boys,” in which he writes, “Black boys be bouquets of tanka/ Bunched up like flowers,” to Tyree Daye’s “Inheritance,” a meditation on what connects people to their forebears: “My mother will leave me her mother’s deep-black/ cast-iron skillet someday,/ I will fry okra in it,/ weigh my whole life on its black handle,/ lift it up to feel a people in my hand.” Xan Forest Phillips’s “Want Could Kill Me” explores desire and intimacy: “I want to buy you/ a cobalt velvet couch/ all your haters’ teeth/ strung up like pearls/ ...but my pockets/ are filled with/ lint and love alone.” Featuring a refreshing mix of established and emerging voices, this vital volume showcases a thriving and multifaceted poetic tradition. (Jan.)