The Sweet Breath of Life: A Poetic Narrative of the African-American Family poems by Ntozake Shange with photographs by Kamoinge Inc.

Words and images come together in this inspiring collaboration between renowned poet Ntozake Shange and Kamoinge Inc., a group of acclaimed photographers whose work documents and celebrates the African-American experience.

Collaborations between writers and photographers have provided African Americans with important focus for issues of identity and representation — or lack thereof — ever since the first publication of The Sweet Flypaper of Life by Langston Hughes and Roy DeCarava in 1955. Frank Stewart, with his fellow photographers in Kamoinge Inc., and Ntozake Shange — a longtime fan of photography — were inspired by this landmark work and committed themselves to continuing the tradition and the artistic conversation into this first decade of this new millennium.

In 1963, Roy DeCarava — renowned photographer and first president of the Kamoinge Workshop — set the aesthetic and philosophical tone of the group in response to biased representations of African Americans in the media. As image-makers, the Kamoinge members have sought to shed positive light on their subjects, and to demystify Black life in America. With stunning images from such acclaimed photographers as Anthony Barboza, Adger W. Cowans, Ming Smith Murray, andpoems by Ntozake Shange, one of the most accomplished writers of her time, The Sweet Breath of Life is a rich and thought-provoking book, destined to become a classic work of American photography and literature.  <book link>

Visually Speaking: Kamoinge at 50

January 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm

If a photo is worth a thousand words, then you won’t want to miss Shawn Walker, Russell K. Fredrick, and June DeLairre Truesdale of the esteemed NY-based African-American photographers’ group, Kamoinge. Join them as they discuss Kamoinge’s 50 years of publishing and exhibiting as a collective.

For more information and to register for this free event, please visit our event’s page.

Come into the NYPL to view Kamoinge’s photography in The Sweet Breath of Life: A Poetic Narrative of the African American Family.  

Photo Credit: Russell K. Fredrick