Roots and Blues is a book of poems and poetic prose which loosely chronicles the history of blues from its earliest origins on slave ships and plantations through more current years. Adoff's writing style is very visual, with words sometimes d r a w n out along the page,
sharply, and sometimes jumping from one margin to the other.
It takes some getting used to, but is well worth the effort. I will not attempt to recreate any of Adoff's poems here, but will include part of his prose:
"This many words machine-gunned through close air
and sacred chanting across the caribbean waters.
Brown fingers moving with the regularity of rhythm
onto stretched skins onto smooth carved wood.
This new world music moves with shackle sounds."
For kids and grown-ups who enjoy poetry or blues, this is a real feast. The paintings by R. Gregory Christie are a moving accompaniment with their dark, rich tones and bold strokes.
If you want additional information on Arnold Adoff, follow this link to a 1988 profile by the National Council of Teachers of English.