The University of New Orleans Press has published “I Am New Orleans,” a poetic compendium of what it means to be and to miss New Orleans featuring the work of 36 contemporary poets.
In 1968, Marcus Christian’s definitive poem “I Am New Orleans” celebrated the 250th anniversary of the city’s founding. Now, contemporary poets take up Christian’s enduring theme, simultaneously an assertion and a point of inquiry: what, and who, is New Orleans today?
Christian, who was a writer-in-residence and history professor at the University of New Orleans, was a prolific writer whose poetry often satirized Jim Crow laws. His collection of work is housed in the University’s Earl K. Long Library.
The collection will be the Crescent City’s latest major contribution to African American poetry, but far from the first, taking as an antecedent “Les Cenelles,” the first anthology by American poets of color, published in New Orleans in 1845.
“I Am New Orleans,” can be purchased from any of UNO Press’ local bookstore affiliates or online at uno.edu/unopress.