Here in Harlem: Poems in Many Voices

by Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers’s vibrant collection of poems gives life and breath and words... read more

Walter Dean Myers’s vibrant collection of poems gives life and breath and words to Harlem experiences. Each poem-–54 in all—is titled with the name, age, and occupation of its fictional speaker. There is “Mali Evans, 12, Student,” who dreams, “I would like to be an ancient lady / Tree-tough and deep-rooted / In the rich soil of my dark / Foreverness.” “Hosea Liburd, 25, Laborer” mourns the loss of his humanity: “When the doors close and the A train begins / Its rock/jerk journey downtown / I am diminished, made small / My manhood left, abandoned, on the station / platform . . . When the doors part and the A train sucks in / The nervous close/clutched horde / Their fear-wide eyes ablaze . . . I become the beast. “ “Macon R. Allen, 38, Deacon” proclaims, “I love a shouting church!” while “Jesse Craig, 38, Salesman” states, “I knew Langston . . . He knew rivers / And rent-due blues / And what it meant / To poet Black.” Myers weaves historical figures and events in and out of poems that reveal how triumph and tragedy, comedy and drama, joy and sorrow play out in the moments of daily lives. Above all, he celebrates those lives as the heart and soul of all that Harlem has been and continues to be. (Ages 12–18)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2005

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