With 200,000 copies in print, this anthology has for decades been seen as a fundamental collection of African-American verse. Bontemps (1902-73), an important figure during and after the Harlem Renaissance, author of more than 25 novels, and longtime librarian at Fisk University, last revised this classic anthology just before his death, adding such crucial new voices as Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, and Bob Kaufman, among others.
This edition, issued in 1996, reprints the poems in Bontemps's revised volume along with updated biographical notes. Nearly seventy poets are represented, their works indexed by both author and title.
The standard anthology of black American poetry that includes among the 68 poets represented: Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and Nikki Giovanni.