Thursday, January 26, 2017

12 Poems You Should Read for Black History Month

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January 25, 2017

A Black History Month Reading List


In honor of Black History Month, which begins next week, we asked a group of contemporary black poets to share poems they think are essential reading for the month and to write about why. Here are their picks; visit to read more about them.


"We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks
"won't you celebrate with me" by Lucille Clifton
"Heartbeats" by Melvin Dixon
"American History" by Michael S. Harper
"Hurricane" by Yona Harvey
"Middle Passage" by Robert Hayden
"We Should Make a Documentary About Spades" by Terrance Hayes
"Let America Be America Again" by Langston Hughes
"A Brief History of Hostility" by Jamaal May
"Coherence in Consequence" by Claudia Rankine
"For My People" by Margaret Walker
"On Being Brought from Africa to America" by Phillis Wheatley

Browse more resources for Black History Month.


Browse more poems about identity.


Browse poems about social justice.


Writing from the Absence: Soul Vang


"I am a seed / Of the tree of knowledge. // I arrived here / In mother's steel womb—" begins Soul Vang's new poem "Song of the Cluster Bomblet," featured in this month's installment of our series about Hmong American poets, curated by Walt Whitman Award winner Mai Der Vang. Read the poem and a short interview about what inspired it.

P.O.P: Lisa Susan Jackson

P.O.P: Linda Susan Jackson


Watch Linda Susan Jackson read Rita Dove's "Hades' Pitch" and her own poetic tribute to Etta James and the resonance of music, "What Yellow Sounds Like," in this latest installment of Rachel Eliza Griffiths's P.O.P video series.


Submit: Translation Prizes


Translators, you have just three weeks left to submit to the Raiziss/de Palchi Fellowship, for the translation of modern Italian poetry, and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, for a poetry collection translated from any language into English and published in the previous calendar year. Deadline: February 15.


Jobs for Poets


Check Stanza each Wednesday for our weekly roundup of the newest teaching, administrative, programming, development, and editorial jobs in the arts. This week's jobs include positions at Columbia University Press and the Independent Book Publishers Association, among many others.

Poetry Breaks: Martín Espada

Poetry Breaks: Martín Espada


Watch this new video in our archival Poetry Breaks series, in which Martín Espada recounts his first experience with political dissent in his poem "The Year I Was Diagnosed with a Sacrilegious Heart."


There's Something New to Love in the Poets Shop


Whether you're treating yourself or sharing your feelings with someone else, celebrate Valentine's Day with our new Chocolove chocolate bars. Available in seven unique flavors, each bar is wrapped in a mystery love poem, adding an extra aww to the whole experience.


In Case You Missed It


Richard Blanco on the Inauguration
Our Education Ambassador writes a poem in response to the inauguration.


A Poet's Tale from Obama's First Inaugural
Chancellor Elizabeth Alexander recounts her experience reading at Obama's 2009 inauguration.


Inaugural Poetry as Augury
Former Chancellor Rita Dove discusses writing as resistance and the history of inaugural poetry.


Claudia Rankine's Home for the Racial Imaginary
Chancellor Claudia Rankine's plans for her Racial Imaginary Institute.



The Academy of American Poets is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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