Every day we do our best to honor the voices that came before us. Discover eight poetry collections that celebrate Black culture.
The art that always meant the most to me was the art that helped me feel seen and heard. It was in the description of traits that mirror mine or the ones I love. Sometimes it has arrived in paintings from a time that existed before I did. Others, a song written from the homeland of my grandparents or a modern-day book character that hits a little too close to home. But most of all, I have found myself, remnants of my childhood and memories from lifetimes past in poetry.
Poetry allows us to crack open the most intimate parts of ourselves with as much vigor or grace as we deem fit. The reader-writer bond is always destined to be a connection of the hearts when created with deep vulnerability. Every day we do our best to honor the voices that came before us and today is no different! Ahead, 8 collections that celebrate Black culture and experiences throughout the ages! We hope you’re all able to find a little bit of yourself and the ones you love woven throughout the pages. Happy Black History Month!
Black Girl, Call Home: Poems by Jasmine Mans
Black Girl, Call Home has taken the literary world by storm. Yes, it fabulously tells of race, feminism and queer identity with ease. But above all, this is a collection that allows room for Black girls and women to soften. It pulls back the curtains of our lives in the most intimate ways yet. Not by screaming about our strength or praising outward beauty. No, Jasmine Mans allows space for all of you to exist in between these pages. Here, your individual and collective experiences are honored. Here you are deeply witnessed.
The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde by Audre Lorde
A collection that belongs on every bookshelf, The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde boasts lyrical and radical messages from one of America’s most celebrated poets. There are over 300 poems inside and yet, no two are even close to being alike. Audre Lorde writes on her life as a Black lesbian woman in such a way that all who read her work feel a personal connection to her experience, no matter how opposite it may be from their own. There are a million and one reasons why Audre Lorde is one of the best American poets. Here are at least 300 of them!
The Black Book Of Poetry: A Black Man’s Journey Through Love, Pleasure and Pain by Kaleel John
Written over the span of 30 years, Kaleel John shines light on his experiences through different versions of himself. Inside the pages of The Black Book Of Poetry, John shares the laughter, passion, disappointment and inevitable self-discovery that Black men in America face. He shares his secrets with each reader in a way that keeps every one like a sacred promise. Vulnerability and honesty pour out of this collection and are sure to leave you feeling held and respected.
Black Oak: Odes Celebrating Powerful Black Men by Harold Green III
The masculine counterpart to his Black Roses: Odes Celebrating Powerful Black Women, Harold Green III now gives poetic flowers to some of the most admirable Black men of our time. Black men change the world day in and day out through breaking down walls and fighting to rewrite the box society so quickly tries to squeeze them into. Men like Colin Kaepernick, Billy Porter, Chance the Rapper and Ryan Coogler are saluted in every line with grace and endless love. After reading through this one, you’ll be handing flowers to Mr. Green himself!
soft magic. by Upile Chisala
Upile Chisala finds the most delicate ways to deliver bold truths in all of her collections. Soft magic. is no different. With themes of self-exploration, gender, blackness and, of course, magic, this Malawian poetess shares impressive insights at every turn. These bite-sized lines of poetry and prose hold space for you to acknowledge and honor the softness your heart has been longing for.
Where the Jazz Band Plays – The Weary Blues – Poetry by Langston Hughes
The eternal Langston Hughes vocalizes the Black experience in a way that isn’t limited by time or space but rather enhances over the ages. He reflects the dreams of the Black population in America in comparison to that of other communities. Originally published in the 1920’s, some of this poetry describes conversations we may never have been a part of. Yet the topics, obstacles and freedom given by Jazz and blues music still ring true.
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The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic edited by Idrissa Simmonds, Jamila Woods & Mahogany L. Browne
This anthology collected by a trio of remarkable writers and poets challenges outdated beliefs of hip-hop. Instead, each poem highlights the femininity of the form. This book emphasizes work from some of the most influential female writers today. Black Girl Magic is sprinkled all over this book from start to finish, making it one of our favorite collections yet!
When Rap Spoke Straight to God by Erica Dawson
The genius of Erica Dawson shines through this book-length poem that boldly confronts both the political and the pop culture events of 2018. Dawson has a rare kind of talent. The kind that successfully connects Wu-Tang to Mary Magdalene. By flowing in and out of slang and formal language, Dawson keeps readers on the edge of their seat. She’s bold, she’s confident and…she’s right.