Book - Shadow Folk and Soul Songs

Shadow Folk and Soul Songs Book - Front

What People Say About Shadow Folk and Soul Songs

Shadow Folk and Soul Songs offers an imaginative universe populated by the common man, looming historical figures, and contemporary interrogations of self and nation. From Phillis Wheatley to Sojourner Truth, Langston Hughes to Hip Hop, these poems traverse deep time and the soul and song of America. The lyric expressions "stir like thunder in the soul."

—Dr. Noelle Morrissette, author of James Weldon Johnson's Modern Soundscapes


The poems of Matthew Johnson’s remarkable first book are vibrant, restless and yes, provocative. Their language deftly calls forth rich cultural perspectives of today and days gone by. From Sinatra to Paul Laurence Dunbar, from Charlie Parker to the Jim Crow South, Shadow Folk and Soul Songs cast a thoughtful net. This impressive bounty is both timely and urgent in addressing the seasons of our lives.

—Larry Moffi, founder and publisher of Settlement House and author of Crossing the Line: Black Major Leaguers, 1947-1959

Review by Julio Carlos:

Shadow Folk and Soul Songs is nothing more, nothing less than a rhymed revolution. A call of pride. A shout to remember the value and the strength of all Negroes, the African-American culture and a screeching appeal to the understanding of a nation as a whole.

This short, very well woven work is powerful and deeply honest. 

As a reader, you feel the emotions that Matthew Johnson forces onto you through the imagery effortlessly constructed in the verses. Themes such as music (jazz, blues, rock, rap and hip-hop), religion, slavery, racism, social neglect, discrimination are professionally portrayed in strong, civilized way, letting the reader immerse in the “deep South”, and suburbs roots. It’s beautiful and inspiring.


Who should read this book? Everyone that likes culture, folklore and western style narrative, for this book, will not get old.


– Unique style both in rhyming and tonality.

– Strong poems.

– Amusing to read.

– The poems that are longer, are well constructed and feel “short-story-like” with a good punchline.

– Thought provocative.


– None.

Our favorite poems

“Self-Portrait”, “If we must Rhyme”, “I tried to count the stars”, “For world”, “As strong as we know how”, “Dialect of a standard An’ Dunbar”, “The reliable narrator”, “Sing it Sam”, “Lazarus is a black man”, “The sun looks upon me, why won’t you?”, “The music maker deathbed confession”.

Our rating: 8.4/10

Read more book reviews by Julio Carlos at:   

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