Harlem Nights and Footstep Blues is a poetry collection consisting of 65 poems. The poems are separated into 11 distinct sections that tell their own story while still fitting into the overall story of the collection. Although not limited to African American influences and content, the collection is very much inspired by the work of African American poets and writers like Langston Hughes, Paul Laurence Dunbar, James Baldwin, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Frederick Douglass and from the black cultural, social, and artistic revival that took place during the period known as the Harlem Renaissance.
Harlem Nights and Footstep Blues is about encapsulating the Harlem Renaissance state of mind and encouraging young black minds to express themselves and “catch a glimmer of their own beauty” as Langston Hughes urged his young black contemporaries to do in his essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (1926), albeit with modern flair. The creative license that black artists had to express themselves and their art during the Harlem Renaissance is the blueprint for the poetry and artistic expression in the collection. Harlem Nights and Footstep Blues is rooted in a modern sense of black cultural, social, and artistic rebirth while paying homage to the artistic foundation laid by the great pioneers of the past.
This is such a tender collection of poetry. McLean’s writing style is very clear and while many of the poems caused me to stop and reflect, I did not have to figure out what he was saying, which I thoroughly appreciated. I love the transparency of his heart on the issues of love and loss, even as he shared the part he played in the downfall of certain relationships. With intensity and great poignancy, he penned his frustration of being a black man, a black person in America, yet managed to do so without spewing hatred. With gentleness, yet also with a straightforward approach, he fused consciousness and a desire for people to ‘wake up’ and realize what is going on all around them with grace and no judgment. He allows his well-crafted poetry to reveal his heart, his mind, his passion, his pain. And my response is I hear you….loud and clear!
Poetry lovers are sure to enjoy this collection and I urge you to give it a try.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
– Tumika Patrice Cain, Say What?? Book Club Link
Wow!! This book of poems is EVERYTHING. Being a poet myself, I can surely appreciate the love, experience and choose of words to paint beautiful art. I got chills reading these poems, thinking “dang, this guy really is awesome.”
My favorite poems, if I may…because they’re all amazing. But I have a few that kind of pulled me in:
Mother Nellie… I wished she was my grandmother. She seemed wise and the coolest most understanding woman to know.
My Lucky Girl… I’m like “where’s my lucky guy?” Lol
She… Her!! Them. Never we. I loved this creation. It was so delicate.
I highly recommend this book to all upcoming and current poets. Also to readers alike. If you love crazy wordplay, awesome synonyms, and highly visual words, pick up this book and read. Then share. You’ll be surprised to see someone’s reaction if you presented this amazing book as a gift. Go Julius! #DaReviewersApproved
– Da Reviewers Link
It’s not often I’m sent a book that pulls me in right away. Usually, there is a waiting period on reviews, especially now with all the things I have going on. But I received this book for review on Monday, I flipped through it and put it on the shelf with the others. And every time I passed that shelf it called out to me. I’d read a page and put it back I did this half the day and night. Until this afternoon, I just seized it and dove straight in.
More often than not, poetry has to be felt by the reader. It has to touch something within them for them grasp the poet’s intention. Harlem Nights and Footstep Blues is that kinda book.”
– Coffee Breaks and Bookmarks LINK
Julius J. McLean penned a novel from the brilliance of his mind. As I read his words during a time of conflict in our nation I could hear the musical soundtrack of my life behind his spoken words. We need to get back to our true roots of the spoken word to express our pain, hurt and prejudices.
This was a healing balm for a broken time for me. When I read the words of “A baby’s eyes I immediately went to my eighteen month old grand-daughter “what lives within a baby’s eyes? Things that we no longer realize are dear. A baby’s eyes don’t veer; away from the truth. A baby’s eyes are pure – Full of youth; and unbridled curiosity. A baby’s eyes inspire me…to be.”
Mclean spoke of “Mother Nellie” like all of our big mama’s, grand-mothers and Sadie’s. We all have one that “used to sit on the back pew.”
Mr. McLean speaks to a well lived life and reality for our brothers, sons, uncles, cousins and my male child with “Clipped Wings “coming home broken from the prison industry. I feel your hurt expressed through your soul.
Modern Day metropolitan cities in America Summer of 2016. Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Alton Sterling) and/or Chicago as we the elders fail our brethren in “Ghetto Born Dreams and the Sound of the Dead Body.”
I took issue with as would any Queen should with” Lost Love.” Only because he failed she, as he courted other girls. Learn from your lessons and commit. Find your Queen.
I was feeling Langston Hughes, James Baldwin and Stephanie Mills when I wished that I was “home.” When I got to “Temple” I was as much in a “Sanctuary” and close to spirituality as I can get. I wish your “Soul Deep” true love. “Vacuum” took me to the political arena of today leading up to the last days of our historical content of losing our first African-American President. Julius speaks to you about everything in his abstract words of prose.
May your soul, you words and truth take you around the world for movie soundtracks and success. Most of all I wish you enough… peace. Riveting, graceful, spoken words from love. Excellent spoken word of truth. (5) five stars.”
– Marilyn Diamond, AAMBC Reviewer LINK