As Angela Jackson has developed as a poet, her poetry has engaged various artistic perspectives yet always maintains a characteristic combination of compassion, grace, and daring. Drawing from earlier works contained in chapbooks, And All These Roads Be Luminous is filled with a world of characters engaged in explorations of identity, sexuality, creativity, and spirituality--all revealed through a passionate verse brimming with surprises.
Comfort Stew: A Play
Angela Jackson Northwestern University Press, 2019 Library of Congress PS3560.A179C66 2019 | Dewey Decimal 812.54
What could be more painful than a missing child? And how might the community better support families—especially young, single mothers and their children? In Comfort Stew, acclaimed Chicago poet and playwright Angela Jackson addresses these questions in what she has called “a meditation on motherhood and what it means to love. It is a call to community to renew its vows to the ancestors and to children so that no child is ever truly lost.”
Hillary Robinson Clay, a self-reliant schoolteacher, is the first to notice when four-year-old Enjoli is absent from her preschool class. Guided by the memory of her mother and with support from Jake, a tough man who is capable of tenderness, Hillary parents her teenage daughter, Sojourner, who is the same age as Enjoli’s mother, Patrice. Jake is a storyteller and a “good cop” who follows Hillary’s intuition and goes looking for Enjoli.
As their stories weave together, Jackson explores parenting, generational conflict, and tradition in the context of contemporary African American family life. Maternal wisdom is embodied by succeeding generations of black women in the recipe for an African stew, a dish Hillary learns to honor while adding a spice that makes it her own.
Angela Jackson brings her remarkable linguistic and poetic gifts to the articulation of African-American experience. The recurrent motif of the spider, which she presents as both creator and predator, demonstrates her deliberate reshaping of myth in the context of contemporary human experience. Informed by African-American speech and poetic traditions, yet uniquely her own, these poems display Jackson's stylistic grace, her exuberance and vitality of spirit, and her emotional sensitivity and psychological insight.
Angela Jackson’s latest collection of poetry borrows its title from a lyric in Barbara Lewis’s 1963 hit single “Hello Stranger,” recorded at Chess Records in Chicago. Like the song, Jackson’s poems are a melodic ode to the African American experience, informed by both individual lives and community history, from the arrival of the first African slave in Virginia in 1619 to post-Obama America.
It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time reflects the maturity of Jackson’s poetic vision. The Great Migration, the American South, and Chicago all serve as signposts, but it is the complexity of individual lives—both her own and those who have gone before, walk beside, and come after—that invigorate this collection. Upon surveying so vast a landscape, Jackson finds that sorrow meets delight, and joy lifts up anger and despair. And for all this time, love is the agent, the wise and just rule and guide.
Angela Jackson returns with a poetic collage that draws on imagery from the African American South and the South Side of Chicago, storytelling, the Black Arts Movement, and Hausa folklore. Deftly intertwining narrative and free verse, she expresses the complexities, beauty, and haunts of the multilayered Black voice. Jackson offers a stirring mixture of the music, food, and soul that have come to characterize her lyrical work.
The speakers of these poems reflect on memory and saga, history and legend. Voices recall evenings spent catching fireflies with a younger sister, the aroma of homemade rolls, the father who squeezes papers into his wallet alongside bills in order to appear wealthy (“a flock of green birds rustling inside / to get out for some extravagance”). A Black girl watches TV and dreams of the perfect partner. A citizen contends with the unrelenting devastation of police violence in a work reminiscent of Gwendolyn Brooks’s “verse journalism.” A mother loses her daughter only to witness her rebirth: “Praise be / the human being / that is being.”
In “For Our People,” an homage to Margaret Walker, Jackson summons the resilience and imagination of African Americans, celebrating “each of us injured or exalted, betrayer or betrayed, muted / and declamatory, all one, each of us all of us, each a private star beloved in the universe.” Lauded as one of American poetry’s most vivid voices, Jackson continues her reign among the country’s foremost wordsmiths. This sublime collection delves deep into the porch stories and folktales that have carried the Black voice through all its histories.
In this highly anticipated sequel to her acclaimed first novel, Where I Must Go, Angela Jackson continues the remarkable story of Magdalena Grace. As a black student at the predominantly white Eden University, Maggie found herself deeply involved in conflict. Now, out in the wider world, she and her beloved Treemont Stone evolve into agents of change as they become immersed in the historical events unfolding around them—the movements advocating for civil rights, black consciousness, black feminism, the rights of the poor, and an end to the war in Vietnam. Rendered in prose so lyrical and luminous as to suggest a dream, Roads, Where There Are No Roads is a love story in the greatest sense, celebrating love between a man and a woman, between family members, and among the members of a community whose pride pushes them to rise up and resist. This gorgeously written novel will resonate with readers today as incredibly relevant, uplifting hearts and causing eyes to water with sorrow and delight.
Where I Must Go: A Novel
Angela Jackson Northwestern University Press, 2009 Library of Congress PS3560.A179W47 2009 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Lyrical, penetrating, and highly charged, this novel displays a delicately tuned sense of difference and belonging. Poet Angela Jackson brings her superb sense of language and of human possibility to the story of young Magdalena Grace, whose narration takes readers through both privilege and privation at the time of the American civil rights movement.
The novel moves from the privileged yet racially exclusive atmosphere of the fictional Eden University to the black neighborhoods of a Midwestern city and to ancestral Mississippi. Magdalena’s story includes a wide range of characters—black and white, male and female, favored with opportunity or denied it, the young in love and elders wise with hope. With and through each other, they struggle to understand the history they are living and making. With dazzling perceptiveness, Jackson’s narrator Magdalena tells of the complex interactions of people around her who embody the personal and the political at a crucial moment in their own lives and in the making of America.