It’s February which means it’s Black History Month! There are so many great ways to celebrate this month, and reading Black authors is just one way to learn something new or expand your worldview.
If you’re looking for something to read this month, or any month, maybe try some poetry collections by Black authors. I find poetry to be a wonderful way to end the day. I love picking up a collection, reading a few poems, and pausing to think about them in the quiet of the night. I’ve got quite a few selections to get you started!
We Inherit What the Fires Left by William Evans: A poignant collection of poetry offering a sensitive portrait of race and fatherhood.
Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman: A stirring, wordplay-filled collection of poems written and read by presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman.
Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks: A thoughtful showcase of Brooks’s spare, evocative verse addressing the racial divide in America.
Soulscript: A Collection of African American Poetry: Moving and powerful, this is a thoughtful collection of poems by Black poets mixing well-known authors with fresh, young voices.
Homie by Danez Smith: An electrifying, bittersweet ode to friendship and community rooted in the loss of Smith’s close friend and acknowledging the pain and challenge of living in a country rooted in violence and hate.
Make Me Rain: Poems & Prose by Nikki Giovanni: Nikki Giovanni celebrates her loved ones and declares her pride in her Black heritage while exploring the impact of racism and white nationalism in this concise, cutting collection.
Owed by Joshua Bennett: Crisp, moving poems celebrate the complexity, joy, and heartbreak of the Black experience in America.
Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds: A visceral, compelling mash-up of art and text that captures what it means not to be able to breathe.
The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde by Audre Lorde: An illuminating and impassioned collection of more than 300 poems from celebrated author and activist, Audre Lorde.
Poems by Langston Hughes: A collection of lyrical, moving, and deceptively simple poems commemorating the experience of Black Americans.
Head Off & Split: Poems by Nikky Finney: Lush, reflective, and intimate poems sustain a sensitive dialogue with emblematic figures and events in Black history in this breathtaking collection.
Collected Poems 1974-2004 by Rita Dove: This lyrical, wide-ranging collection of Rita Dove’s poetry showcases the artistic diversity that earned her a Pulitzer Prize, the position of U.S. poet laureate, and a National Medal of Art.
The Collection Plate by Kendra Allen: Lyrical and reflective poems explore how we collect and erase the voices, lives, and innocence of underrepresented bodies.
American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes: A powerful, rapturous collection of poems addressed to Hayes’s potential assassin: a nameless embodiment of America’s penchant for racially motivated violence.
How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton by Lucille Clifton: Moving, thought-provoking poems celebrating Black womanhood and resilience.
Join Us: An American Conversation by Claudia Rankine: Poetry, prose, and imagery combine in this powerful, thought-provoking meditation on the challenges of communicating across the racial divide in America.
Collected Poems by Robert Hayden: A thoughtful collection of poems which contemplate the Black experience through themes of dreams, mortality, nature, travel, and memory.
Build Yourself a Boat by Camonghne Felix: An innovative, poetic exploration of generational trauma, healing, and survival.
The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller by E. Ethelbert Miller: An inspiring and challenging collection of poetry from writer and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller.
Wild Beauty by Ntozake Shange: Evocative and raw, this is a stirring collection of more than 60 original poems in both English and Spanish.
In His Own Voice: The Dramatic and Other Uncollected Works of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Paul Laurence Dunbar: A collection of previously unpublished short stories, essays, dramatic works, and poems written by one of the first influential Black poets in American literature, Paul Laurence Dunbar.
And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou: An unforgettable collection of powerful, fresh poems celebrating the courage of the human spirit to triumph over the harshest of obstacles.
S O S: Poems 1961-2013 by Amiri Baraka: Spanning Baraka’s career, this is a compelling collection of rousing, revolutionary poems fusing the personal and political.
Antebellum Dream Book: Poems by Elizabeth Alexander: In this stunning collection, Elizabeth Alexander explores themes of race, gender, politics, and motherhood with vivid prose and imagination.
Brown: Poems by Kevin Young: A richly envisioned memoir in verse reflecting on the varied nature and meanings of brownness and the African American cultural influences who shaped the author’s identity.
Wicked Enchantment: Selected Poems by Wanda Coleman: A diverse collection of prescient and innovative poems by Wanda Coleman, known as the unofficial poet laureate of L.A.
What are you picking up for Black History Month? Do you have any favorite Black poets? Let me know!