Necessary Distance

Essays and criticism by Clarence Major

April 1, 2001 • 6 x 9 • 256 pages • 978-1-56689-109-7

This first collected essays of a National Book Award finalist for Poetry is a portrait of the artist’s rise to prominence in American letters.

Bringing together critical essays, articles, and reviews by the 1999 National Book Award finalist, this landmark collection is an impressive look back—and forward—by one of our most visionary authors. Necessary Distance showcases Clarence Major’s talents as the leading anthologist of African American literature and language as he surveys his remarkable short story, poetry, and slang collections. He also takes a closer look at individual twentieth-century writers, three influential literary magazines, and most importantly, at his own career and beginnings as an artists.

Whether he’s chronicling the antics and arguments of fellow poets at the 1975 Yugoslavian International Poetry Festival, or humbly reading his poems to curious seventh graders, Major writers in a succinct, personal tone that can just as easily expound on the complexities of William Faulkner as the joys and pains of a youth spent in Chicago. Necessary Distance offers a unique insider’s perspective on the changing face of American Literature by one of its prime innovators.


“Clarence Major has a remarkable mind and a talent to match.” —Toni Morrison