Celebrating National Poetry Month: Five Black Poets you should know.

After the 22-year-old African-American poet recited her inauguration poem, she received international acclaim and two of her books became best-sellers that are after she was selected by president Joe Biden last year during the inauguration read her original “The Hill We Climb”.

April is National Poetry Month to honor all the talented poets, both past and present. If you’re a literature enthusiast, poet, or writer no matter your race and you love Poetry it’s your time to shone. I want to highlight my favorite black poets.

Here’s my list

            Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from Harvard University in 2020. She is the author of The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country, the poetry collection The Hill We Climb and The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough 2015. Though the Black female poet had a speech impediment during her childhood, she viewed the poet as a gift and a strength rather than a crutch. Soon, she began writing poetry focused on issues of oppression, feminism, race, marginalization, and the African diaspora.  In 2017, Gorman was named the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States. She previously served as the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles, and she is the founder and executive director of One Pen One Page, an organization providing free creative writing programs for underserved youth. In no time, Gorman became the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate and the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. After the 22-year-old African-American poet recited her inauguration poem, she received international acclaim and two of her books became best-sellers that are after she was selected by president Joe Biden last year during the inauguration read her original “The Hill We Climb”.

WANDA COLEMAN        

Born on November 13, 1946, Wanda Coleman grew up in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. During her lifetime she worked as a medical secretary, magazine editor, journalist, and Emmy Award-winning scriptwriter before turning to poetry. Black female poet Wanda Coleman was the “unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles or the L.A. Blueswoman the African-American poet received critical acclaim for her remarkably perceptive and creative work. The characters in Coleman’s poetry, prose, and books aim to bring racism, poverty, and social inequalities to light. Coleman is unapologetic when it comes to her art the controversial subjects illustrate the lives of the underclass and the disenfranchised. Her poetry collections include Mercurochrome: New Poems in  2001, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in poetry, Bathwater Wine, 1998, which received the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Native in a Strange Land: Trials & Tremors (1996); Hand Dance,1993, African Sleeping Sickness, 1990. She also wrote the books Jazz and Noon Tales: New Stories, 2008, Mambo Hips & Make Believe among others.

TRACY K. SMITH

Tracy K. Smith was born on April 16, 1972, in Massachusetts, U.S, she was raised in California, where she served as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2017 to 2019. American poet and author whose writing often confronts formidable themes of loss and grief, nascent adulthood, and the roles of race and family through references to pop culture and precise descriptions of intimate moments. The Black poet has four poetry collections: DuendeLife on MarsWade in the Water, and The Body’s Question—the latter of which received the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African-American poet. Smith also won the Pulitzer Prize for Life on Mars and the James Laughlin Award and the Essense Literary Award for Duende

 AL YOUNG

Poet, novelist and Professor Al Young were born in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Young often read to musical accompaniment, and his poetry reflected his interest in music, specifically jazz and blues, as well as his life in California. Al Young is an African-American poet, novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and professor with an original voice. His first poetry collection was published in 1969; it was titled Dancing. Since then, he’s written many notable works, including The Song Turning Back into ItselfThe Blues Don’t Change: New and Selected Poems, and Something About the Blues an Unlikely Collection of Poetry. The Black poet received the American Book Award twice once for The Sound of Dreams Remembered: Poems 1990-2000, and the other for Bodies & Soul. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Berkeley Poetry Festival.  He also taught at several universities, where he was a lecturer in Creative Writing at Stanford University from 1969 to 1979. He was also appointed the 2002 Lurie Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at San José State University and McGee Professor of Writing at Davidson College in 2003. He traveled widely as a cultural ambassador for the United States Information Agency and delivered lectures on literature and culture for the US Department of State.

 MORGAN HARPER NICHOLS

If there’s anyone who knows how to lift people, it’s poet and musician Morgan Harper Nichols. The mixed-media artist shares her works of art and words of wisdom across social media, as well as through collaborations, her app, an online shop, and multiple bestselling books. She draws inspiration from everyday conversations and stories to create her art. The Black poet and L.A. native initially started as a musician and songwriter but eventually shifted her focus to poetry. In 2017, she came up with the idea of writing personalized letters for strangers, to write 1 million poems in her lifetime. Now, people submit stories on her website, and she responds with a short letter of encouragement along with visual art. The famous Black poet has since gained a loyal audience. Her debut book, Storyteller featuring 100 poems written as letters were released towards the end of 2017. Harper Nichols’ most popular book is All Along You Were Blooming: Thoughts for Boundless Living, which is a striking collection of illustrated Black love poems.

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