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Russel Atkins

Russel Atkins: On the Life & Work of an American Master, edited by Kevin Prufer & Michael Dumanis, 2013

For over sixty years, poet, composer, dramatist, editor, and music theorist Russell Atkins has been admired by those who know him for his brilliant, idiosyncratic poetry and wide-ranging intellect. All his work, however, was published by small, mostly avant-garde presses and today is completely out of print. This 4th volume of the Unsung Masters Series reprints not just a large selection of his poetry, but also includes six essays on his work, his verse drama The Abortionist and his essay “A Psychovisual Perspective for ‘Musical’ Composition.”

"Russell Atkins is a phenomenon, and his writing is phenomenal. Its existence requires us to simultaneously rethink the received histories of the avant-garde and of African-American literature, and to reconsider the limits of post-war poetry entirely." —Craig Dworkin

"There have yet to be made the proper comparisons between Paul Celan and Russell Atkins—in form, in syntax, in intention, and yes, in content. This book shows that Atkins remains a poet whose eye is as sharp as any blade that cut through the 20th century, and readers who have yet to experience his writing deprive themselves of actually seeing the blood that runs through us all. That blood is dark. It is necessary." —Jericho Brown

"Russell Atkins has been to poetic, dramatic, and musical innovation and leadership what John Coltrane has been to jazz avant-gardism. His influence upon both Black and white artists has been tremendous for the past quarter century locally. Like Robert Hayden’s fine poetry, Atkins’ works have been neglected for too long." —Leatrice W. Emeruwa, Black World Magazine, 1973


About the Series

Pleiades Press publishes one book a year through the Unsung Masters Series, each volume of which focuses on an important writer who has been unjustly neglected and/or whose work is currently out of print. In addition to a generous sample of creative work, every volume includes numerous essays on the writer’s work. Coming in 2014: Francis Jammes: On the Life & Work of a 20th Century Master, edited by Kathryn Nuernberger & Bruce Whiteman.

Unsung Masters Books are available free with a subscription to Pleiades or for $12.99 from Small Press Distribution.



Nancy Hale

Nancy Hale: On the Life & Work of a Lost American Master, edited by Dan Chaon, Norah Hardin Lind & Phong Nguyen, 2012

in the 1930s and 1940s, nancy hale was a writer of literary best-sellers, beloved by critics, and expected by many to become one of the canonical writers of her era. her fiction helped to shape the early identity of The New Yorker magazine and established her as an important voice in both the short story and the novel. By her death in 1988, however, all but one of her more than thirty books had gone out of print, and her star had faded into near obscurity.


Tamura Ryuichi

Tamura Ryuichi: On the Life & Work of a 20th Century Master, edited by Takako Lento & Wayne Miller, 2011

This second volume in the Unsung Masters Series focuses on Tamura Ryuichi, a young rabble-rousing Japanese Modernist poet during the early years of World War II who was then profoundly affected by his experience serving on a gun emplacement to defend agains the American and Soviet invasion that never came. After the war, Tamura became a key member of the "Wasteland" poets, who were inspired in part by Westerners such as T. S. Eliot and W. H. Auden and published Arechi (The Wasteland), a literary magazine that sought to chart a new course for Japanese poetry. Though he is little known in the U. S., Tamura is widely considered to be one of the most important Japanese poets of the 20th century.


Dunstan Thompson

Dunstan Thompson: On the Life & Work of a Lost American Master, edited by D. A. Powell & Kevin Prufer, 2010

Largely unknown today, Dunstan Thompson was once one of the most celebrated young poets in America. Published during and shortly after WWII, his often harrowing, homoerotic poems—many set on the battlefields and in the hospitals of the European Theater—were compared favorably to the work of W. H. Auden, Hart Crane, and Dylan Thomas. Then, as far as the general public was concerned, Dunstan Thompson disappeared. In a series of essays, interviews, letters, and clippings, this book traces Thompson's journey from a wildly successful literary enfant terrible, through his strong Catholic reawakening, and into his later years as a writer of mature, meditative, largely unpublished poetry. The first volume in the Unsung Masters Series, this book also includes a generous selection of Thompson’s very best poetry.