Makalani BandeleHellfightin’

Willow Books, 2012

by Vershawn Young on March 19, 2012

Makalani Bandele

There is no better description of poet Makalani Bandele’s debut book Hellfightin’ (Willow Books, 2012) than the one found on his comprehensive website: “Derived from the nickname the French Army gave the all-Black 369th Infantry Regiment in World War I, the Hellfighters . . . is a tour de force of lyricism, mysticism, jive philosophy, and discursive narrative as blues lick. The title of the book, Hellfightin’, as a term is best understood in the context of the critical framework of the Blues …”

Bandele’s Hellfightin’, then, is a poetic education in the African American musical, cultural and historical traditions, and one of the latest installments from the famous creative ensemble known as the Affrilachian Poets. Bandele couldn’t be among better company than those poets who seek to bring attention to the black literary tradition within the Appalachian territories. Hellfightin’ does all that and more. Listen to how Bandele tells us how.

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