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Wayne State University Press

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Roses and Revolutions

The Selected Writings of Dudley Randall

Dudley Randalledited by Melba Joyce Boyd

Award Winner

African American Studies, By WSU Faculty, Detroit, Language and Literature, Poetry

Published: August 2009
ISBN: 9780814334454
Pages: 256 Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 8 b&w illus.
Published: August 2009
ISBN: 9780814335307
Pages: 256 Size: EPUB
Illustrations: 8 b&w illus.

A fine gift to Black literary and cultural studies.

— Houston A. Baker, Jr.

Dudley Randall was one of the foremost voices in African American literature during the twentieth century, best known for his poetry and his work as the editor and publisher of Broadside Press in Detroit. While he published six books of poetry during his life, much of his work is currently out of print or fragmented among numerous anthologies. Roses and Revolutions: The Selected Writings of Dudley Randall brings together his most popular poems with his lesser-known short stories, first published in The Negro Digest during the 1960s, and several of his essays, which profoundly influenced the direction and attitude of the Black Arts movement.

Roses and Revolutions: The Selected Writings of Dudley Randall is arranged in seven sections: "Images from Black Bottom," "Wars: At Home and Abroad," "The Civil Rights Era," "Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects," "Love Poems," "Dialectics of the Black Aesthetic," and "The Last Leap of the Muse." Poems and prose are mixed throughout the volume and are arranged roughly chronologically. Taken as a whole, Randall’s writings showcase his skill as a wordsmith and his affinity for themes of love, human contradictions, and political action. His essays further contextualize his work by revealing his views on race and writing, aesthetic form, and literary and political history. Editor Melba Joyce Boyd introduces this collection with an overview of Randall’s life and career.

The collected writings in Roses and Revolutions not only confirm the talent and the creative intellect of Randall as an author and editor but also demonstrate why his voice remains relevant and impressive in the twenty-first century. Randall was named the first Poet Laureate of the City of Detroit and received numerous awards for his literary work, including the Life Achievement Award from the National Endowment of the Arts in 1986. Students and teachers of African American literature as well as readers of poetry will appreciate this landmark volume.

Melba Joyce Boyd is author of Wrestling with the Muse: Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press and Discarded Legacy: Politics and Poetics in the Life of Frances E. W. Harper, 1825–1911 (Wayne State University Press, 1994), co-editor of Abandon Automobile: Detroit City Poetry 2001 (Wayne State University Press, 2001), and author of seven books of poetry, including Death Dance of a Butterfly. She is a distinguished university professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies at Wayne State University and adjunct professor at the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

In this brilliant-and necessary-book, Melba Joyce Boyd has made accessible in one volume the major body of Dudley Randall's work. She combines in thematic sections related genres, which illustrate the variety and scope of his writing. Her insightful introduction provides helpful biographical information and a road map for reading the book. Roses and Revolutions is a major scholarly achievement."

– Naomi Long Madgett, Poet Laureate of Detroit and Professor of English Emerita at Eastern Michigan University

An elegantly introduced and lovingly edited volume befitting the prodigious labors of a brilliant and loving poet. A fine gift to Black literary and cultural studies."

– Houston A. Baker, Jr., Distinguished University Professor of English at Vanderbilt University

Roses and Revolutions is a seminal addition to any literary collection focusing on African American literary history."

– The Midwest Book Review

This collection, edited by Melba Joyce Boyd and opening with an introduction from her, unites much of his work into one volume, showcasing his skill as a poet and his ability to twist together themes as seemingly disparate as love, identity, and politics. Boyd has done us a great service in bringing together many of Randall's disparate writings in one volume. Let's not forget him. He never seemed to forget who he was or where he was from. And he never wavered a bit in seeking justice."


  • 2009 ForeWord Book of the Year - Finalist in the category of poetry
  • 2009 Independent Publisher Book Award - WINNER in the category of Poetry
  • 2010 Michigan Notable Book Awards - Result: 1 of 20 selected annually
  • 2010 NAACP Image Award - Result: Finalist for Outstanding Literary Work in the category of poetry.