The Voices of Unsung Black Poets, Revived and Amplified
Literary reputations, like stocks, are always in ascent or decline. You can place bets, at Ladbrokes in London, on the Nobel and Booker Prizes, though it’s impossible to place an early wager on a writer’s career unless you own a publishing house (or have a phenomenal bookie).
It used to be that if you were out of print and out of fashion, you and your heirs were also out of luck. But who would have predicted that this still-young century would be such a furious era of literary recovery, revival and reclamation? That the polishing of hidden gems would occupy so many?
The reissues keep coming: from the New York Review Books, a spinoff of the literary magazine; McNally Editions, the publishing arm of McNally Jackson bookstores in New York; the feminist press Persephone; Faber Editions; and the granddaddy of them all, the Library of America, to name only a few. Other publishers have regularly done this kind of work for decades.
Critics and scholars, like crate-diving disc jockeys, have always made rediscoveries. But there is more churn now, and it’s good for the literary ecology. The books are like dried flowers, revived in bowls of water…