Excellent, Intermediate, Young Adult, Music History, Poetry, South, Slavery, Blues-Music

Document Type

Book Review


Arnold Adoff creates a series of poems about the words and feelings behind ‘the blues’. Each of these patterned and well-crafted poems contain carefully worded narratives describing life as an African American during the time of slavery and inequality. Adoff emotionally describes the natural origins to this soulful music found in ‘the shuffle of chains between wrists,’ each chop of the axe, and voices shouting 'amen.' These were the sounds that inspired the blues, ultimately finding refuge from their pain in their music. During a time of grief and suffering, celebration was still found in the rhythm of the roots and blues.