The Collected Poems of Lorenzo Thomas

The Collected Poems of Lorenzo Thomas

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Author: Lorenzo Thomas

Editors: Aldon Lynn Nielsen and Laura Vrana

Publisher: Wesleyan University Press (2019)

Lorenzo Thomas (1944-2005) was the youngest member of the Society of Umbra, predecessor of the Black Arts Movement. The Collected Poems of Lorenzo Thomas is the first volume to encompass his entire writing life. His poetry synthesizes New York School and Black Arts aesthetics, heavily influenced by blues and jazz. In a career that spanned decades, Thomas constantly experimented with form and subject, while still writing poetry deeply rooted in the traditions of African American aesthetics. Whether drawing from his experiences during the war in Vietnam, exploring his life in the urban north and the southwest, or parodying his beloved Negritude ancestors, Thomas was a lyric innovator.

"This generous tome of too-hidden genius griot-bodhisattva Lorenzo Thomas shimmers with an alert curiosity and humanity's tender blues. An important figure of second generation New York School practice as well a son of Black Arts and companion to Umbra, Thomas has never wavered in his celebration of ancestors from Pharoah Hohemreb to Leopold Senghor to Jimi Hendrix. "Stir it up" Thomas, writes, and he does. This Collected is a magnificent intervention of poetry's orality in a radical time he was very much a part of."

–Anne Waldman

"It is beautiful and amazing to have access to the vast range of invention, intensity, and surprise that Lorenzo Thomas's poetry offers. His contribution is indispensable, immeasurable and—even now, even here—unbound."

–Fred Moten