Black Moods collects for the first time all of Frank Marshall Davis's extant published poems as well as his known previously unpublished work.
Cogently framed by John Edgar Tidwell's insightful introduction, this volume recovers the rich variety of Davis's poetic expression, much of it informed by his political convictions and by his multifaceted work as a journalist. His early work helped promote Chicago as a site of the New Negro Renaissance in the 1930s; late in his career the Black Arts Movement welcomed him as "the long lost father of modern Black poetry." Between these two signposts, Davis engaged in a tireless struggle for social, intellectual, political, and aesthetic freedom, lending his considerable energies and intelligence to the fight against racial segregation, anti-Semitism, labor exploitation, and other injustices.
Tidwell examines both Davis's poetry and his politics, presenting a subtle portrait of a complex writer devoted to exposing discriminatory practices and reaffirming the humanity of the common people. From sharp-edged sketches of Southside Chicago's urban landscape to the complicated bright prismatic world that lay beneath Hawaii's placid surface of beachfront hotels, bikinis, and beach bums, Davis's muscular poems blend social, cultural, and political concerns--always shaped by his promise to "try to be as direct as good blues." His jazz poetry and love poems offer a lyrical counterpoint to his realistic and satirical verse focusing on urban life, race pride, and fierce social consciousness.
A varied and valuable collection, Black Moods represents the recovery of a powerful and distinctive voice and a marvelous enrichment of African American poetry.