Solange launches free library of rare and out of print books by black authors

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Some of the titles that can be borrowed from the Saint-Héron Library (all images are reproduced with the kind permission of Saint-Héron)

Saint Heron, the creative studio of musician Solange Knowles, is launching a public library of collectible books by or highlighting black poets, visual artists, designers and luminaries. From this Monday, readers will be invited to borrow one of the 50 titles completely free of charge: with postage and return costs covered, there will be no charge for borrowers, who can take advantage of the books for research, study and personal discovery for 45 days. .

The dozens of publications, many of which are now out of print, constitute an invaluable archive of the Black Shine. Highlights include a signed first edition of In our terrible (1970) by avant-garde poet and playwright Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka); Between the lines: 70 drawings and 7 tests (1988), a monograph by artist Benny Andrews prefaced by Alice Neel; and a signed copy of Julianna Free The head (1996), a compilation of prose poetry and photographs exploring the intersection of darkness and femininity.

A signed copy of “The Head” by Julianna Free is one of the treasures of the library

There are also some unexpected finds that don’t easily fit into categories, like Madame Zenobia’s Space Age Lucky Eleven Dream and Astrology Book (1975), a dreamlike exploration of the 12 solar signs of the zodiac probably written under a pseudonym by Philadelphia journalist Justine Rector.

A rare book on dreams, nature and astrology probably written by journalist Justine Rector.

Organized by Rosa Duffy, who founded Atlanta-based community bookstore For Keeps Books, focused on rare titles and black classics, the Saint Heron Library’s first “season” runs through October 29; a second iteration will be coming up, with dates to be announced. Once returned, the books will become part of the library’s permanent collection.

These works, including the works of authors and creators both well-known and underrated in the literary and artistic circuits, can “expand the imagination,” Knowles said in a statement.

The books will be available for rent at saintheron.com on a first come, first served basis on Monday, October 18 at 12 p.m. EST.

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