From former poet laureate of Kentucky and founder of the Affrilachian Poets, a collection of historical poetry that gives voice to Black Civil War soldiers.

For decades, Frank X Walker has reclaimed essential American lives through his pathbreaking historical poetry: from Medgar Evers in Turn Me Loose, winner of the NAACP Award; to York, the enslaved explorer who joined the Lewis and Clark expedition, in Buffalo Dance, winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award. In this stirring new collection, he reimagines the experiences of Black Civil War soldiers―including his own ancestors―who enlisted in the Union Army in exchange for emancipation. Moving chronologically from antebellum Kentucky through Reconstruction, Walker braids the voices of the United States Colored Troops with their family members, as well as slaveowners and prominent historical figures―including Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and Margaret Garner―into a wide-ranging series of “persona poems” imbued with atmospheric imagery and brimming with indomitable spirit. Evoking the pride and perseverance of formerly enslaved General Charles Young, Walker hums: “I, am America’s promise, my mother’s song, / and the reason my father had every right to dream.”