8 Willow Poets Selected for Historic Anthology

 “A 21st century “update” on the state of Black writing arts…”

Ishmael Reed

 Eight poets from Willow Books appear in a new anthology on the history and legacy of the Black Arts Movement. Black Fire—This Time, Volume 1 features the writings of over 100 poets and writers from across the country and overseas. Building upon the traditions of Alain Locke’s The New Negro (1925) and Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal’s Black Fire: an anthology of Afro-American Writing (1968), the collection was commissioned by Dr. Kim McMillon and realized by publisher Heather Buchanan. The Willow poets selected are devorah major, E. Ethelbert Miller, brian g. gilmore, Curtis L. Crisler, Keisha-Gaye Anderson, Amoja Sumler, Alan King and James E Cherry.

The collection is the brainchild of Dr. Kim McMillon, whose career focus has been the Black Arts Movement. While teaching at UC Merced she noticed the need for teaching Black Arts Movement literature in today’s classrooms out of concern that it is fading from public consciousness. “I’ve spent a lot of time trying to piece together some very hard-to-find works by black writers from fragmented sources,” she said. “I saw a need for a new collection that houses many of those great works in one place and the idea for this anthology was born.” McMillon received a Ph.D. in World Cultures at the University of California, Merced, with an emphasis on African American Literature. She was a contributor to the anthology Some Other Blues: New Perspectives on Amiri Baraka (Ohio University Press). She also contributed to the Black Power Encyclopedia (1965-1975), a two-volume reference work that explores the emergence and evolution of the Black Power Movement in the United States.

devorah major is a California-born “granddaughter of immigrants, documented and undocumented who works as a writer, editor, writing coach, spoken word performer, recording artist, and poetry professor.” The Poet-in-Residence of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, major has toured internationally in places such as Northern and Southern Italy, Bosnia, Jamaica, Venezuela, Belgium, England and Wales, and throughout the United States both performing her poetry and serving on panels speaking on African-American poetry, Beat Poetry, and poetry of resistance. In 2015, major premiered her play, Classic Black: Voices of 19th Century African-Americans at the S.F. International Arts Festival. Her most recent poetry collection is califia’s daughter (Willow Books, 2020).

E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the author of two memoirs and several books of poetry including The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller (Willow Books, 2016), a comprehensive collection that represents over 40 years of his work, published by Willow Books. For 17 years Miller served as the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. He is host of the weekly WPFW morning radio show On the Margin with E. Ethelbert Miller and host and producer of The Scholars on UDC-TV which received a 2020 Telly Award. In recent years, Miller has been inducted into the 2015 Washington DC Hall of Fame and awarded the 2016 AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature and the 2016 DC Mayor’s Arts Award for Distinguished Honor.

brian g. gilmore is a native of Washington, D.C. A Senior Lecturer in the Law and Society Program at the University of Maryland College Park, gilmore is the author of four collections of poetry, the latest, come see about me, marvin, (Wayne State University Press, 2019), a Michigan Notable Book Recipient for 2020. A Cave Canem and Kimbilio Fellow, gilmore is a contributing writer for the Progressive Magazine. He has been published in several Willow publications and featured in LitFest programs.

Curtis L. Crisler was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. Crisler has five full-length poetry books, two YA books, and five poetry chapbooks. He’s been published in a variety of magazines, journals, and anthologies. He’s been an editor and contributing poetry editor. Also, he created the Indiana Chitlin Circuit. Crisler is a Professor of English at Purdue University Fort Wayne (PFW).

Keisha-Gaye Anderson is a Jamaican-born poet, writer, visual artist, and communications and marketing strategist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her debut poetry collection Gathering the Waters (Jamii Publishing 2014) was accepted into the Poets House Library and the National Library of Jamaica. She is the author of Everything Is Necessary (Willow Books, 2019). Her poetry, fiction, essays and artwork have been widely published in national literary journals, magazines, and anthologies.

Recognized by Poetry Slam Inc as a “Legend of the South,” Amoja Sumler, author of Fables, Foibles, & Other ‘Merican Sins (Willow Books, 2020), is a nationally celebrated poet and essayist. His poetry appears in the Pierian Literary Journal, Muddy Ford Press, Swimming With Elephants, FreezeRay Poetry and the Antigonish Review as well as other journals.

Alan King  is an author, poet, journalist and videographer. He is a communications specialist for a national nonprofit and a senior editor at Words Beats & Life‘s global hip hop journal. As a staff writer for the Baltimore Afro-American Newspaper, King often out-scooped the Baltimore Sun when covering housing and the Baltimore City Council. King is the author of DRIFT (Willow Books, 2012). As a visiting author for Pen Faulkner’s Writers-in-Schools program, he’s inspiring the next generation of readers and writers. King’s honors include fellowships from Cave Canem and Voices of Our Nations Arts (VONA) Foundation and three Pushcart Prize nominations.

James E Cherry has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award for his first collection of poetry, Honoring the Ancestors, from Third World Press. The first of two editions of his collection of short fiction, Still A Man and Other Stories (Willow Books, 2011; 2021), was nominated for a Lilllian Smith Book Award and a Next Generation Indie Book Award. Cherry is an adjunct professor of English at the University of Memphis-Lambuth and resides in Tennessee.

Black Fire—This Time, Volume 1

March 2022

494 pages