From 1926 to 1932, she wrote a weekly column, “Homely Philosophy,” that appeared in several Black American publications. Shortly after earning B.A. The women you'll find in this collection are not necessarily the best women poets or the most literary, but ones whose poems have tended to be studied and/or remembered. Her neighborhood was called “Dynamite Hill” due to the number of homes bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. Published in London in 1773, Wheatley’s anthology Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral—in which she declares that her love of freedom had come from having been a slave—brought her fame in England and colonial America and was praised by prominent Americans including George Washington. April was is in full swing last month and the air is filled with poetry and spring. Is that why the little kisses are not enough? At just 13, her first published poem, “Eventide,” appeared in American Childhood. ThoughtCo. Her name by then a household word in the colonies, Wheatley’s achievements catalyzed the antislavery movement. She was educated at Rust University’s high school for formerly enslaved persons, and later at Fisk University. The following books by black authors (in alphabetic order by title) were published in 2018 and fall under a wide range of genres. Shange’s awards included fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Fund and a Pushcart Prize. Her most recent work, bone, has left many dazzled and stunned its riveting and emotional lyricism. “Every man has a right to express his opinion,” she wrote. Her uncle, an outspoken abolitionist and Black literacy advocate founded the Watkins Academy for Negro Youth in 1820. Her work is hopeful and positive, for those looking to give themselves some much needed love and comfort. 1738. Luckily, there are some great collections coming out in 2019. In 1835, Jacobs escaped, hiding for the next seven years in a tiny crawlspace in the roof of her grandmother’s house. Educated at home by private tutors, she attended a private secondary school in Salem, Massachusetts. For her works and her influence on many other writers, Hurston is considered one of the most important female writers of the 20th century. After graduating from Straight University (now Dillard University) in 1892, Dunbar-Nelson taught in the New Orleans public school system. Through her involvement with the Harlem Renaissance artistic movement of the 1920s, Dunbar-Nelson rose to prominence as an activist writer. The only child of her free Black American parents, Frances Harper was born on September 24, 1825, in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1996 the Academy of American Poets dubbed April National Poetry Month to celebrate the richness of American poetry. by djoyner. From 1965 to 1984, she worked as a fiction editor at Random House Books. She was awarded the Sillerman First Book Prize for her poetry collection, The Kitchen Dweller’s Testimony. Shortly after their wedding, W.E.B. Ntozake Shange, 2010, at premiere of "For Colored Girls" at Ziegfeld Theatre, New York City. Shire’s poetry also appeared in Beyonce’s visual Lemonade album last year. With a run of 530 performances, it was the first Broadway play written by a Black American woman. Born into enslavement in Mississippi during the Civil War, Wells was freed in 1863 by the Emancipation Proclamation. Living temporarily in Haiti and Jamaica, she studied and wrote about the religions of the African diaspora. After returning to her family for a few years, she was sold twice, finally to a Presbyterian minister who freed her from enslavement in 1805. In her books such as Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (1989), Black Looks: Race and Representation (1992), and Where We Stand: Class Matters (2000), hooks conveys her belief that a woman’s true sense of value is determined by a combination of her race, political beliefs, and economic worth to society. As one of the writers involved in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, Grimké’s writings were included in the group’s anthologies The New Negro, Caroling Dusk, and Negro Poets and Their Poems. I used to hate that my, thighs touched and that my ass moved. Jessie Redmon Fauset (April 27, 1882 - April 30, 1961) was a Black American editor, poet, and novelist. As an anthropologist, Hurston specialized in the study and portrayal of Black culture and folklore. First free African-American community: Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose (later named Fort Mose) in Florida; 1746. I felt as if I would drive this car into a wall, into the next person I saw.” Also a noted prose writer, Lorde’s National Book Award-winning collection essays, Burst of Light, considers the use of fear of racism as a catalyst for change: “I am listening to what fear teaches. Alexandra Elle is known for poetry illuminating ideas of self-love and self-care. In 1943, Graham went to work as a writer for the NAACP under the direction of W.E.B. February is Black History Month, and to celebrate the contributions Black poets have made, and continue to make, to the richness of American poetry, we asked twelve contemporary Black poets from across the country to choose one poem that should be read this month and to tell us a bit about why. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to mixed-race parents, her Black, White, Indigenous, and Creole heritage endowed her with the deep understanding of race, gender, and ethnicity she expressed in her writing. In his autobiography The Big Sea, Langston Hughes wrote of her, “Jessie Fauset at The Crisis, Charles Johnson at Opportunity, and Alain Locke in Washington were the three people who midwifed the so-called New Negro literature into being. When she learned that the police officer had been acquitted, Lorde wrote in her journal, “A kind of fury rose up in me; the sky turned red. In 1842, she fled to the North, first to Philadelphia, then to New York City where she gained her freedom and became active in the abolitionist movement organized by Frederick Douglass. In 1957, she joined the lesbian and LGBTQ civil rights organization, the Daughters of Bilitis as a writer for their magazine, The Ladder. On December 21, 1886, one of her most powerful speeches, “I am an anarchist” was published in the Kansas City Journal. From 1985 until her retirement 2006, she taught writing at the State University of New York in Albany. If anything, you might walk away more whole--a transformed human being who understands that they need self-love, self-care and that they are not alone. Inspiring Women Poets To Read "May I write words more naked than flesh, stronger than bone, more resilient than sinew, sensitive than nerve." She began writing poetry at the age of thirteen and is recognized as the country's first notable African-American poet. Taking over as literary editor of The Crisis in 1919, Fauset introduced several previously unknown Black writers such as Langston Hughes and Claude McKay to a national audience. After completing high school at Morgan College, Hurston earned an associate’s degree from Howard University and a BA in anthropology from Barnard College in 1928. Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford; February 18, 1931 – August 5, Alice Dunbar-Nelson (July 19, 1875 - September 18, 1935) was a poet, journalist, and political activist. Definitely check out her incredible work. In urging the need for persistence in the struggle for racial equality, she is remembered for her best-known quote, “It is better to wear out than to rust out.”. Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, to a family with a deep appreciation for Black culture and history. (shelved 2 times as black-poetry) avg rating 4.61 — 1,887 ratings — published 2016 Maria Stewart (1803 - December 17, 1879) was a free-born Black American teacher, journalist, lecturer, abolitionist, and civil rights activist. After moving from Texas to Chicago in 1873, Lucy wrote frequently for Albert’s pro-labor newspaper, The Alarm. Possibly the first Black female student to attend Cornell University, she graduated with a BA in classical languages in 1905. The poems are bridges to our divinity, sensuality and uniqueness. In 1997, Davis co-founded Critical Resistance, an organization dedicated to ending the prison industrial complex. If you have not heard about Nayyirah Waheed you absolutely must look her up. These poets are just a sampling of the incredible work that many other Black poets have done over the past ten years. Her Obie Award-winning 1975 play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf, combines poetry, song, and dance to tell the stories of seven women, identified only by their color. by Black Feminisms. Imperative. and gives wide air to the epic realities of women.”. Vancouver-based Chantal Gibson is a artist, poet and educator. By producing numerous literary and drama series, and art exhibitions, she first minority to be named a supervising librarian at the New York Public Library. The proper word a chick's voice. As one of the few northern Black American teachers to recount her experiences during the Civil War, her highly acclaimed collection of journals, “Life on the Sea Islands,” was published by The Atlantic Monthly in 1864. “Many think, because your skins are tinged with a sable hue, that you are an inferior race of beings … It is not the color of the skin that makes the man, but it is the principle formed within the soul.”. The burning of the offices of The Memphis Free Speech by an angry mob launched her career as an anti-lynching crusader and pioneering investigative journalist. Audre Lorde lecturing at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, 1983. In the late 1850s, Grimké became deeply involved with influential abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Lydia Maria Child, who encouraged her to publish her poems in the antislavery newspapers The Liberator and The Evangelist. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/african-american-women-writers-3528288. She is currently working on her second book, Water. Her first book, Violets and Other Tales was published in 1895 when she was just 20. Among her most popular poems are “The Eyes of My Regret,” “At April,” and “The Closing Door.”, Grimké’s best-known play Rachel was produced in 1920. Alice Walker, 2005, at opening of Broadway version of The Color Purple. In 1970, guns belonging to Davis were used in an attempt to help the inmates escape from a California courtroom. A strong supporter of prison reform, Davis took up the cause of three Black inmates. In 1777, at age eleven, Elizabeth was sold to a plantation owner several miles from her family. Alexander has degrees from Yale University and Boston University and completed her Ph.D. in English at the University of Pennsylvania. Often driving them to school herself, she protected and advised the nine students, known as the Little Rock Nine. Shirley Graham Du Bois, by Carl Van Vechten. Safia Elhillo has been awarded the Brunel University African Poetry Prize as well as the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. I used, to hate not being 115 anymore. Published during the early 1900s, her poems, short stories, and newspaper columns took on complex issues including the effects of racism on Black family life, work, and sexuality. Throughout her lifetime, Mary Church Terrell fought for both racial and gender equality, writing that she belonged “to the only group in this country that has two such huge obstacles to surmount … both sex and race.”. Not the kind of poetry that feels dictated and uncreative. Kara's Talk presents the idea that black women are allowed to be complex and continue to prove their complexity with poetry. Kind and critical—but not too critical for the young—they nursed us along until our books were born.”. From 1968 to 1971, Walker wrote as writer-in-residence at Jackson State University and Tougaloo College. WPA Federal Theater Project in New York:Negro Theatre Unit:"Macbeth" (1935). In 1916, Johnson published her first poems in the NAACP’s magazine Crisis. I loved poetry in high school. The Chaos of Longing (that title alone!) At age 87, she moved to Philadelphia. In 1853, Shadd Cary founded The Provincial Freemen, a weekly newspaper for Black Americans, especially escaped enslaved people. I liked Allen Ginsberg more than I will ever like Emily Dickinson. At age 26, Harper left Maryland and began teaching in New York. After college, she worked as a teacher in Baltimore and Washington, D. C. Fauset’s literary career began in 1912 writing poems, essays, and reviews for the NAACP’s official magazine, The Crisis, edited by W. E. B. Hansberry attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison majoring in writing, but withdrew after two years and moved to New York City. Lorraine Hansberry (May 19, 1930 - January 12, 1965) was a Black American playwright and activist, best known for her classic 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun, and for becoming the first Black playwright and the youngest American to win a New York Critics’ Circle award. Her term for this strategy, “Lifting as we climb,” became the motto of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), the group she helped found in 1896. Her father appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in its famous Hansberry v. Lee decision declared racially restrictive housing covenants illegal. Du Bois in forming the Krigwa Players, a troupe of Black actors performing plays by Black playwrights. - Sappho ( c. 630 – c. 570 BC) Poetry, like so many art forms, has a way of expressing the inexpressible and exposing human nature through musical rhythms, vivid imagery, and powerful metaphors. Poets (from left to right) Rita Dove, Gwendolyn Brooks, Kevin Young, Tyehimba Jess, and Langston Hughes Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (September 24, 1825 - February 20, 1911) was a Black American poet, author, and lecturer who became a household name in the 19th century. With the success of her essay, Bonner was invited to join a circle of Washington, D.C. writers who met regularly at poet and composer Georgia Douglass Johnson’s “S Street Salon.” Over the next five years, she wrote a popular series of short stories published in Crisis and the National Urban League’s Opportunity magazine. With the support of William Still—father of the Underground Railroad—Harper’s poem Eliza Harris and other works were published in abolitionist newspapers including the Liberator and Frederick Douglass’ North Star. Born in Notasulga, Alabama on January 15, 1891, both of Hurston’s parents had been enslaved. In 1852, Shadd Cary wrote articles encouraging other Black Americans to seek freedom in Canada. First known African-American (and slave) to compose a work of literature: Lucy Terry with her poem "Bars Fight", composed in 1746 and first published in 1855 in Josiah Holland's "History of Western Massachusetts 1760. After losing her parents to the yellow fever epidemic of 1878, she and her siblings moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where she taught school to keep her family together. In her words, Elizabeth exposed the desperation felt by so many young enslaved Americans. Caught up in the forced desegregation resulting from the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, Shange was bussed to a previously all-white school where she was subjected to overt racism and physical harassment. She decided then to write under her pen name, the name of her grandmother. Longley, Robert. Elizabeth’s father, a devoted member of the Methodist Society, exposed her to religion while reading to his children from the Bible. 10 Black Female Poets You Need To Check Out These Black Women Are Poeticising What It Means To Be A Black Woman. If a picture paints a thousand words, then this collection of poems paints at least a few hundred pictures. In 2004, she became a professor at Berea College, a tuition-free, liberal arts college in Kentucky. Marita Bonner (June 16, 1898 - December 6, 1971) was a Black American writer, playwright, and essayist associated with the Black cultural Harlem Renaissance movement of the 1920s. It is love almost entirely captured by words. I mourned sore like a dove and chattered forth my sorrow, moaning in the corners of the field, and under the fences.”. When the family moved to a white neighborhood in 1938, they were attacked by neighbors, leaving only after being ordered to do so by a court. After this time, finding as my mother said, I had none in the world to look to but God, I betook myself to prayer, and in every lonely place I found an altar. While still living in Atlanta, her first poem was published in 1905 in The Voice of the Negro literary journal. Elle has penned multiple poetry collections including, Words of a Wanderer, Love in My Language, and most recently, Neon Soul—a collective infusion of poetry and prose. At age 68, Brooks became the first Black woman to be appointed as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, the position now known as Poet Laureate of the United States. African American women writers have helped bring the Black woman's experience to life for millions of readers. The masthead of weekly abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, 1850. "27 Black American Women Writers You Should Know." Much of Osman’s poetry, often narrative and personal, centers on her identity as a black Somali woman and as a Muslim. Apr 1, 2020 - Explore Mary May's board "african american poets/authors", followed by 563 people on Pinterest. It acts as a letter to her future daughter—a guide for navigating the world as a black, Muslim woman. I Guess By Now I Thought I'd Be Done With Shame. Stunning. Carl Van Vechten, Courtesy Library of Congress. An outspoken feminist, Walker created the term womanist to refer to “A Black feminist or feminist of color” in 1983. Born in 1753, she was brought to New England from West Africa as a slave when she was nearly 8 years old. Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” Opening on March 11, 1959, at New York’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre, the A Raisin in the Sun was an instant success. Ijeoma Umebinyuo has been hailed one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s greatest contemporary poets. Yusef Komunyakaa. Lucy Parsons (1853 - March 7, 1942) was a Black American labor organizer, radical and self-proclaimed anarchist best remembered as a powerful public speaker. I recently rediscovered my passion for the genre, and in doing so I also discovered several incredible Black women who are absolutely killing the poetry game. Shirley Graham Du Bois (November 11, 1896 - March 27, 1977) was a Black American writer, playwright, and civil rights activist. in English literature from Stanford University in 1973, an M.A. Last year I read more poetry than I had in previous years, which encouraged me to make poetry a larger part of my 2019 reading goal. Born on May 19, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois, Lorraine Hansberry’s parents contributed generously to the NAACP and Urban League. from Cornell University in 1955. Robinson’s first published work is a searing work of art. After studying philosophy at the University of Frankfurt in West Germany, Davis studied at the University of California, San Diego, before getting a Ph.D. from the Humboldt University of Berlin in East Germany. Born to a working-class family in the small, segregated town of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, hooks wrote her first book, Ain’t I a Woman at age 19. Davis has also authored several books on classism, feminism, racism, and injustices within the U.S. prison system, including Women, Race, and Class, Women, Culture and Politics, Are Prisons Obsolete?, Abolition Democracy, and The Meaning of Freedom. You will not be disappointed. When the U.S. Supreme Court declared segregated public schools unconstitutional in 1954, Bates rallied Black American students to enroll in all-white schools across the South, including those in Little Rock. Born to a free Black family in Hartford, Connecticut in 1803, she lost both of her parents at age three and was sent to live in the home of a white minister and his wife. She poignantly described the mental trauma of the resulting scar tissue in her 1983 essay “Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self.” As valedictorian of her class, Walker received a scholarship to Spelman, a college for Black women in Atlanta. Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images. Written by Editorial Team 03/02/2020 Born in Camden County, New Jersey, Fauset grew up in Philadelphia and attended the Philadelphia High School for Girls. “On reaching the farm, I found the overseer was displeased at me … He tied me with a rope, and gave me some stripes (administered a whipping) of which I carried the marks for weeks. As a successful writer, Shange focused on her experiences as a Black woman in America. in 1934 and a master’s degree in music in 1935. K.Y. From The Auction of enslaved people by Frances E.W. Born to a Black American family in Birmingham, Alabama, Davis was exposed to racism as a child. https://www.thoughtco.com/african-american-women-writers-3528288 When both of her parents died in 1926, she turned to her writing seeking comfort. November 23, 2018. The book has been self-described as an exploration of “self, joy, blackness, gender, matters of the heart, the experience of the Disaspora, spirituality and most of all how we survive.” It is heartfelt. Now a free 39-year-old Black woman, Elizabeth traveled and preached. Born in Topeka, Kansas, Brooks moved with her family to Chicago when she was young. 27 Black American Women Writers You Should Know. Her father, a janitor, and her mother, a schoolteacher and classically trained pianist, supported her passion for writing. Sign up for our newsletter to get the freshest stories in your inbox, every day! from the University of Wisconsin in 1976, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1983. As a result, his poetry focuses on the suffering of black people. Smile with all of your teeth, even the rotting ones. They're listed alphabetically. "27 Black American Women Writers You Should Know." Her poems are simplistic in structure but deeply moving in content. Komunyakaa has received the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for ‘Neon Vernacular’, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Mary Church Terrell (September 23, 1863 - July 24, 1954) was an activist and journalist, who fought for racial equality and women’s suffrage. Georgia Douglas Johnson (September 10, 1880 - May 14, 1966) was a Black American poet, playwright, and significant part of the Harlem Renaissance artistic movement. Academic Books by and about Black Women – 2019 edition; Academic Books by and About Black Women – 2018 Edition; ... Arts and Entertainment Black Women Poets You Should Get to Know. I will never be gone. Published in 1977, the novel brought Morrison fame, winning the coveted National Book Critics Circle Award. Born into a free Black American family in Wilmington, Delaware, Shadd Cary’s father wrote for the abolitionist newspaper the Liberator and helped escaped enslaved Black Americans secure passage to Canada on the Underground Railroad. https://www.thoughtco.com/african-american-women-writers-3528288 (accessed February 23, 2021). In 1930, Hurston collaborated with Langston Hughes in writing the play, Mule Bone, a comedic portrayal of Black life. I hope these five poems strengthen your spirit as you read, for they are masterpieces crafted with love, magic, whispers and sighs. One of the world's most well-known African-American poets, her work includes poetry anthologies, poetry recordings, and nonfiction essays, and covers topics ranging from race and social issues to children's literature. It is a transformative piece of art that will leave you longing for more. From 1957 to 1964, she taught at Howard. As an honors graduate of Oberlin College and the daughter of one of the South’s first Black millionaires, Terrell was part of the growing Black upper class who used their social influence to fight for racial equality. Du Bois. sometimes better in the full face of the sun. Born in Gambia or Senegal, West Africa, she was seized by slave traders at age seven and transported to Boston aboard a slave ship called The Phillis. From looking at course syllabi alone, one might believe that poetry can only be written by people who have been dead for 50 years. Terrell’s passion for activism arose in 1892 after an old friend was lynched by a mob of whites in Memphis simply because his business competed with theirs. Here are some of my favorite contemporary Black female poets that I promise you'll fall in love with, just like I did. While still a student at Oberlin, Graham’s 1932 musical drama Tom Tom was widely acclaimed. ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/african-american-women-writers-3528288. In 1859, her short story The Two Offers appeared in the Anglo-African Magazine making it the first short story published by a Black American woman. “They are greater than you would willingly believe.”. Summer time is the perfect time to get reading. thin or thick. Kean Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images. Her second novel, Song of Solomon, tells the story of a Black man’s search for self-identity in the face of racism. Harriet Jacobs (1813 - March 7, 1897) was a formerly enslaved Black American author and activist. “The Constitution says there are certain inalienable rights, among which are a free press, free speech, and free assemblage,” she said. Her book of poetry, Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth, is an absolute must-read. She also founded the Boston chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, a sorority dedicated to public service and assisting the Black community. The Iowa Writers Workshop-alum is known as much for her poetry collections (the most famous being 2007’s Dance Dance Revolution, a recipient of the Barnard Women Poets Prize) as her reviews and political writings appearing in outlets such as the Guardian and the New York Times. It is honest and relatable. Published in 1973, Morrison’s first book, The Bluest Eye tells the story of a young Black girl who prays every day for beauty. The niece of abolitionist and poet Charlotte Forten Grimké, she graduated from the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics—a school dedicated to the advancement of women—in 1902 and later attended summer classes at Harvard University while teaching English in Washington, D.C. National Archives and Records Administration. It explores images and ideas not easily or frequently vocalized. Born in Chicago on May 21, 1901, Anderson attended colleges including Wilberforce University in Ohio and the University of Chicago before earning a Master of Library Science degree from Columbia University. Harriet Jacobs's only known formal portrait, 1849. When white schools refuse to accept Black students, Bates exposed them in her Arkansas State Press. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Bonner attended Brookline High School where she wrote for the student newspaper, the Sagamore. In honor of National Poetry Month, here’s a list of young black poets you should know. In 1929, the Krigwa Players formed the Negro Experimental Theater. In March of the same year, she as was forced to leave town after her article harshly condemning the lynching of three Black men enraged many prominent Memphis whites. After working as a librarian in the New York public schools throughout the 1960s, she taught as the poet-in-residence at historically Black Tougaloo College in Mississippi. As a key participant in the Black cultural Harlem Renaissance movement, she worked alongside other prominent writers such as Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen. Alice Walker was born in 1944 in Eatonton, Georgia, to sharecropping farmers. In 1854, she moved to Salem, Massachusetts, where she attended a private academy for young women as the only Black student in a class of 200. Longley, Robert. When she was eight, she was involved in a BB gun accident that left her permanently blinded in her left eye. She was also friends with the young Black girls killed in the Birmingham church bombing of 1963. After the Civil War, Shadd Cary worked alongside Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the women's suffrage movement. Frequently vocalized touched and that my ass moved a formerly enslaved Black American family in Birmingham, Alabama, took... Rights, and feminist theorists her initials, L.H., for those looking to give themselves some much love! 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