Angela Jackson’s latest collection of poetry borrows its title from a lyric in Barbara Lewis’s 1963 hit single “Hello Stranger,” recorded at Chess Records in Chicago. Like the song, Jackson’s poems are a melodic ode to the African American experience, informed by both individual lives and community history, from the arrival of the first African slave in Virginia in 1619 to post-Obama America.
It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time reflects the maturity of Jackson’s poetic vision. The Great Migration, the American South, and Chicago all serve as signposts, but it is the complexity of individual lives—both her own and those who have gone before, walk beside, and come after—that invigorate this collection. Upon surveying so vast a landscape, Jackson finds that sorrow meets delight, and joy lifts up anger and despair. And for all this time, love is the agent, the wise and just rule and guide.