Why the Black Hole Sings the Blues

Why the Black Hole Sings the Blues

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By Ishmael Reed

ISBN: 9781628973587

Publication Date: 11/03/2020

A new collection of poems from the American author, poet, and playwright Ishmael Reed.

The poems in this new collection from Ishmael Reed were written between 2007 and 2020. They range from poems based on events that occurred around Reed's house to cataclysmic space events. Some of the poems were commissioned. ”Moving Richmond” was part of a public art installation created by Mildred Howard. The poem, in huge letters  forged into weathering steel billboards  greets passengers who enter the new Bay Area  mass transit hub in Richmond, California. Other poems were commissioned by musicians. ”Hope Is The Thing With Feathers” was performed by Gregory Porter. “Red Summer, 2015” appeared in print first and then was set to music by David Murray. Reed writes, that the longest poem in the book, “Jazz Martyrs,” was begun when Reed learned about the number of black Jazz greats who didn’t live past the age of forty. "I have been fortunate to live beyond the age of 80," says Reed. "I’ve found out who my best friends are. The ones who got me there."

Other Books by Ishmael Reed

Ishmael Reed: The Plays

Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down

Reckless Eyeballing

The Terrible Threes



"His own groundbreaking literary output over six decades, in multiple languages and every form—essays, fiction, poetry, film, even editorial cartoons—has infected a generation of artists. His work as an institution builder, anthologist, and publisher has spread the work of hundreds of writers from outside the literary mainstream—students, black folks, immigrants, working-class writers, avant-garde experimentalists, and every member of his immediate family." —Chris Jackson, Paris Review

"In his writing, Reed is a great improviser, a master of collage with an amazing ability to syncretize seemingly disparate and divergent materials into coherent 'edutainments'—forms of surprise, revelation, and frequent hilarity." —Robert Elliot Fox

Biographical Information

Ishmael Reed is the award-winning author of over twenty-five books including Mumbo Jumbo, The Last Days of Louisiana Red, Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down and Juice!. He is also a publisher, television producer, songwriter, radio and television commentator, lecturer, and has long been devoted to exploring an alternative black aesthetic: the trickster tradition, or Neo-Hoodooism as he calls it. Founder of the Before Columbus Foundation, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley, for over thirty years, retiring in 2005. In 2003, he received the coveted Otto Award for political theater. His most recent essay collection, Why No Confederate Statues in Mexico, was published in 2019 by Baraka Books of Montreal. He lives in Oakland, California.