Publisher: Modern Library
Released: January 11, 2022
A harbinger of the Harlem Renaissance first published in 1922, this collection of poignant, lyrical poems explores Claude McKay’s yearning for his Jamaican homeland and the bitter plight of Black and African Caribbean people in America—now with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Jericho Brown.
With pure heart, passion, and honesty, Claude McKay offers an acute reflection on the complex nature of racial identity in the Caribbean diaspora, encompassing issues such as nationalism, freedom of expression, class, gender, and sex. The collection’s eponymous poem, “Harlem Shadows,” portrays the struggle of sex workers in 1920s Harlem. In “If We Must Die,” McKay calls for justice and retribution for Black people in the face of racist abuse.