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|As explained in my post "A Black History Month Reading List: Introduction" , I will be creating a number of relevant reading lists throughout Black History Month for those looking to learn, enjoy, celebrate, understand the varying facets of Black History. For my first post, I have compiled a list of twelve poetry volumes written by black poets. The poetry ranges from hundreds of years old to modern releases. I hope you find something you are able to connect with and enjoy.
Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral by Phillis Wheatley
Phillis Wheatley was the first black woman in America to be a professional and published poet. This collection of 39 poems was published in 1773.
For Malcolm: Poems on the Life and Death of Malcolm X edited by Dudley Randall and Margaret G. Burroughs
Edited by two important black poets from the mid-twentieth century onward, For Malcolm is a poetry collection written and released following the death of Malcolm X.
And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is beloved for her poetry and her autobiography series, and this collection ranks among her best and most significant work in poetry.
Hard Times Require Furious Dancing by Alice Walker
Best known for her novel The Color Purple, Alice Walker is also an incredible poet with a great many collections under her belt. This collection deals with a great deal of loss, and is a personal favourite.
On the Bus With Rosa Parks by Rita Dove
Rita Dove was the first black woman to serve as Poet Laureate in the US, as well as the youngest person to hold that position. She is a must-read poet, and this collection serves as an excellent starting point.
Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day by Nikki Giovanni
A significant piece of work in Nikki Giovanni's long career in poetry, this collection deals with both the personal and the political.
Selected Poems by Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes was considered a leader of the Harlem Renaissance, and this collection of his poems provides a great many examples of why this was so.
Shake Loose My Skin by Sonia Sanchez
Sonia Sanchez has been a much lauded poet, activist, and teacher for several decades. Shake Loose My Skin is a look into some of the best works in her unique style.
Jimmy's Blues and Other Poems by James Baldwin
James Baldwin was better known for his novels and essays than his poetry, but this posthumous collection shows off his versatility to full effect.
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker
Morgan Parker published this collection, her second ever, only in 2017. Being the most recently published poet here, her style and content tends to be very modern.
Supplying Salt and Light by Lorna Goodison
Lorna Goodison is a Jamaican poet, whose poetry collection Supplying Salt and Light weaves culture and history into personal and emotive poems.
Angle of Ascent: New and Selected Poems by Robert Hayden
The first black person to hold to the role of Consultant in Poetry (Poet Laureate precursor) in the US, Robert Hayden's work was pivotal in twentieth century poetry. Angle of Ascent demonstrates his precise form and his story-telling elements.