50 Poetry Books Written by Black Authors

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This is a list of poetry books written by Black authors. These books were published in different years and some are just to be published later this year 2020.

I have read some of these and am familiar with some of these poets, but there are still a lot of them that I have never heard of. Honestly, it’s saddening and I’m disappointed with myself. I want to do better in supporting Black authors and I hope that this post will help in putting these books and Black poets on your radars as well.

To discover other books, especially novels, written by Black authors and to educate yourself, I have also included links of threads and posts about them below. Please check them out as well.

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151809The Rose That Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur

This collection of more than 100 poems that honestly and artfully confront topics ranging from poverty and motherhood to Van Gogh and Mandela is presented in Tupac Shakur’s own handwriting on one side of the page, with a typed version on the opposite side.

 

620693. sy475 The Black Poets anthology edited by Dudley Randall

“The claim of The Black Poets to being… an anthology is that it presents the full range of Black-American poetry, from the slave songs to the present day. It is important that folk poetry be included because it is the root and inspiration of later, literary poetry. Not only does this book present the full range of Black poetry, but it presents most poets in depths, and in some cases presents aspects of a poet neglected or overlooked before. Gwendolyn Brooks is represented not only by poems on racial and domestic themes, but is revealed as a writer of superb love lyrics. Tuming away from White models and retuming to their roots has freed Black poets to create a new poetry. This book records their progress.”—from the Introduction by Dudley Randall

30304222There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé  by Morgan Parker

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé uses political and pop-cultural references as a framework to explore 21st century black American womanhood and its complexities: performance, depression, isolation, exoticism, racism, femininity, and politics. The poems weave between personal narrative and pop-cultural criticism, examining and confronting modern media, consumption, feminism, and Blackness. This collection explores femininity and race in the contemporary American political climate, folding in references from jazz standards, visual art, personal family history, and Hip Hop. The voice of this book is a multifarious one: writing and rewriting bodies, stories, and histories of the past, as well as uttering and bearing witness to the truth of the present, and actively probing toward a new self, an actualized self. This is a book at the intersections of mythology and sorrow, of vulnerability and posturing, of desire and disgust, of tragedy and excellence.

33375618Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

Award-winning poet Danez Smith is a groundbreaking force, celebrated for deft lyrics, urgent subjects, and performative power. Don’t Call Us Dead opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved here on earth. Smith turns then to desire, mortality the dangers experienced in skin and body and blood and a diagnosis of HIV positive. “Some of us are killed / in pieces,” Smith writes, some of us all at once. Don’t Call Us Dead is an astonishing and ambitious collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes America–“Dear White America”–where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.

32334099. sy475 Neon Soul by Alexandra Elle

Alexandra Elle writes frankly about her experience as a young, single mother while she celebrates her triumph over adversity and promotes resilience and self-care in her readers. This book of all-new poems from the beloved author of Words From A Wanderer and Love In My Language is a quotable companion on the road to healing.

 

29796466Magic City Gospel by Ashley Jones

Magic City Gospel is a love song to Birmingham, the Magic City of the South. In traditional forms and free verse poems, 2015 Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award-winner Ashley M. Jones takes readers on a historical, geographical, cultural, and personal journey through her life and the life of her home state.

 

 

43844653. sy475

Dark // Thing by Ashley M. Jones

dark // thing is a multifaceted work that explores the darkness/otherness by which the world sees Black people. Ashley M. Jones stares directly into the face of the racism that allows people to be seen as dark things, as objects that can be killed/enslaved/oppressed/devalued. This work, full as it is of slashes of all kinds, ultimately separates darkness from thingness, affirming and celebrating humanity.

 

35203395. sx318 Testify by Simone John

Testify, Simone John’s first full-length book of poems, experiments with documentary poetics to uplift stories of black people impacted by state-sanctioned violence. The book’s first section weaves Rachel Jeantel’s testimony in the Trayvon Martin trial with Kendrick Lamar lyrics, fixed form and found poems, and personal artifacts. The second section centers on the audio of the dashboard recording that captured Sandra Bland’s fatal police encounter. Excerpts from this exchange are punctuated with elegies for other dead black women, creating a larger commentary about race and gender-based violence. Testify is ultimately a book of witness. It “burdens” its readers “with knowing.” Combined, both chapters serve as an unflinching critique of race and gender supremacy in the United States.

32332605. sx318 Spirit Boxing by Afaa Michael Weaver

In Spirit Boxing, Weaver revisits his working class core. The veteran of fifteen years as a factory worker in his native Baltimore, he mines his own experience to build a wellspring of craft in poems that extend from his life to the lives that inhabit the whole landscape of the American working class. He writes with an intimacy that is unique in American poetry, and echoes previous comparisons of his oeuvre to that of Walt Whitman. The singularity of his voice resonates here through the prism of his realization of self through a lifelong project of the integration of American and Chinese culture. The work is Daoist in influence and structure as it echoes both a harmonic realization of context and the intuitive and transcendent dance of body, mind, and spirit.

968176The Plum Flower Dance by Afaa Michael Weaver

Winner of the 2008 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence

“Weaver has crafted a virtual planet in this book with plenty of alternate geographies for readers of all flavors and stripes. Marvelous. Huge. Prodigious.”

—North American Review

 

32825327

Pecking Order by Nicole Homer

Nicole Homer’s first full-length poetry collection, Pecking Order, is an unflinching look at how race and gender politics play out in the domestic sphere. Homer challenges the notion of family by forcing the reader to examine how race, race performance, and colorism impact motherhood immediately and from generation to generation. In a world where race and color often determine treatment, the home should be sanctuary, but often is not. Homer’s poems question the construction of racial identity and how familial love can both challenge and bolster that construction. Her poems range from the intimate details of motherhood to the universal experiences of parenting; the dynamics of multiracial families to parenting black children; and the ingrained social hierarchy which places the black mother at the bottom. Homer forces us to reckon with the truth that no one—not even the mother—is unbiased.

32022189. sx318 No Dictionary of a Living Tongue by Duriel E. Harris

Winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize (2015)
No Dictionary of a Living Tongue is formidable in its explorations of art, citizenship, and life as a body amid the social, political, and electronic networks that define us, hold us together, bind us. The poems here take many forms–prose, lyric, epigram, narrative, dialogue fragment, song, musical score, fairy tale, and dictionary entry. An elegant use of sound couples with a keen and roving intelligence and a fierce commitment to social justice to create a unique and powerful collection of poems.

1578807. sx318 Drag by Duriel E. Harris

Poetry. African American Studies. DRAG by Duriel E. Harris is a PoMoFunk symphony weaving the harmonics of language and culture into a transcendent whole. Forrest Hamer said: “We’ve been waiting for this book. DRAG is an exciting and significant debut collection from a gifted artist. Duriel E. Harris composes various and rich traditions of music, voice, and text, and Drag demonstrates ever new possibilities for this synthesis in poetry.” Duriel E. Harris holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her writing has been published in ACM (Another Chicago Magazine), Fence, and the African-American Review. She has received grants from the Cave Canem Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council. WBEZ Chicago Public Radio heralded her as one of three Chicago poets for the 21st-century.

34130377. sy475 Silencer by Marcus Wicker

Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and Oddisee meet traditional verse in this urgent collection of poems by Pushcart Prize winner and NAACP Image Award finalist Marcus Wicker.

A suburban park, church, a good job, a cocktail party for the literati: to many, these sound like safe places, but for a young black man these insular spaces don’t keep out the news—and the actual threat—of gun violence and police brutality, or the biases that keeps body, property, and hope in the crosshairs. Continuing conversations begun by Citizen and Between the World and MeSilencer sings out the dangers of unspoken taboos present on quiet Midwestern cul-de-sacs and in stifling professional settings, the dangers in closing the window on “a rainbow coalition of cops doing calisthenics around/a six-foot, three-hundred-fifty-pound man, choked back into the earth for what/looked a lot, to me, like sport.”

Here, the language and cadences of hip-hop and academia meet prayer—these poems are crucibles, from which emerge profound allegories and subtle elegies, sharp humor and incisive critiques.

35132873. sx318 Vintage Sadness by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

There is music for dancing & for grieving, for sexting & responding to a snarky rejection letter. In his follow-up to the acclaimed The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib channels Ginuwine, Prince, and Carly Rae Jepsen to artfully reflect on intimacy, friendship, and becoming an adult. Vintage Sadness further cements Willis-Abdurraqib as one of the most important voices of our generation and proves that each life has its own tender soundtrack.

 

30087886The Crown Ain’t Worth Much by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib’s first full-length collection, is a sharp and vulnerable portrayal of city life in the United States. A regular columnist for MTV.com, Willis-Abdurraqib brings his interest in pop culture to these poems, analyzing race, gender, family, and the love that finally holds us together even as it threatens to break us. Terrance Hayes writes that Willis-Abdurraqib “bridges the bravado and bling of praise with the blood and tears of elegy.” The poems in this collection are challenging and accessible at once, as they seek to render real human voices in moments of tragedy and celebration.

26158735Black Movie by Danez Smith

Poetry. African American Studies. These harrowing poems make montage, make mirrors, make elegiac biopic, make “a dope ass trailer with a hundred black children/ smiling into the camera & the last shot is the wide mouth of a pistol.” That’s no spoiler alert, but rather, Smith’s way saying & laying it beautifully bare. A way of desensitizing the reader from his own defenses each time this long, black movie repeats.”

35645364. sy475 The Drowning Boy’s Guide to Water by Cameron Barnett

Winner of the Rising Writer Contest (2017)

Cameron Barnett’s poetry collection, The Drowning Boy’s Guide to Water (winner of the 2017 Rising Writer Contest), explores the complexity of race and the body for a black man in today’s America.

 

 

32592316Weary Kingdom: Poems by DeLana R.A. Dameron

In this new collection of poems, Weary Kingdom, DeLana R. A. Dameron maps a journey across emotional, spiritual, and geographic lines, from the familiarity of the honeysuckle South to a new world, or a new kingdom Harlem. Her poems traverse the streets of this Black mecca with a careful eye cast toward the intimacies of the exterior. Still, as the poems move throughout the built environment, they navigate matters of death, love, love loss, and family against the backdrop of a city that has yet to become home. Indeed what looms over this weary kingdom is a longing for the certainties of a lover s touch, the summer s sun, and the comforts of a promised land up North. And as the poet longs, so do readers. Ultimately they grow aware of Utopia s fragility.”

34866356. sx318 Not Without Our Laughter: Poems of Humor, Joy & Sexuality anthology edited by Celeste Doaks

The Black Ladies Brunch Collective’s Poetry Anthology, Not Without Our Laughter, (Mason Jar Press, 2017) is a collection of humorous and joyful poems, riffing on Langston Hughes’s novel Not Without Laughter. It explores topics of family, work, love and sexuality. The women of BLBC believe, like Hughes, that even in these currently tense racial times, laughter and the celebration of life is crucial. Historically, it is what African Americans have done and will continue to do, no matter what challenges face them.

34594981Helium by Rudy Francisco

Helium is the debut poetry collection by internet phenom Rudy Francisco, whose work has defined poetry for a generation of new readers. Rudy’s poems and quotes have been viewed and shared millions of times as he has traveled the country and the world performing for sell-out crowds. Helium is filled with work that is simultaneously personal and political, blending love poems, self-reflection, and biting cultural critique on class, race and gender into an unforgettable whole. Ultimately, Rudy’s work rises above the chaos to offer a fresh and positive perspective of shared humanity and beauty.

The Language We Cry In by Delicia Daniels

In her debut poetry collection, Delicia Daniels uniquely relates different experiences, including a new outlook on past history, intimacies, hardships, the joys of relationships, and the stepping stones of faith we were all born with. This wonderful poetry journey will leave you asking for more.

 

 

32073360. sy475 Simulacra by Airea D. Matthews

Winner of the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize

A fresh and rebellious poetic voice, Airea D. Matthews debuts in the acclaimed series that showcases the work of exciting and innovative young American poets. Matthews’s superb collection explores the topic of want and desire with power, insight, and intense emotion. Her poems cross historical boundaries and speak emphatically from a racialized America, where the trajectories of joy and exploitation, striving and thwarting, violence and celebration are constrained by differentials of privilege and contemporary modes of communication. In his foreword, series judge Carl Phillips calls this book “rollicking, destabilizing, at once intellectually sly and piercing and finally poignant.” This is poetry that breaks new literary ground, inspiring readers to think differently about what poems can and should do in a new media society where imaginations are laid bare and there is no thought too provocative to send out into the world.

130956Poems by Maya Angelou

Tenderly, joyously, sometimes in sadness,  sometimes in pain, Maya Angelou writes from the heart and  celebrates life as only she has discovered it. In  this moving volume of poetry, we hear the  multi-faceted voice of one of the most powerful and  vibrant writers of our time.

 

 

20613761Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

A provocative meditation on race, Claudia Rankine’s long-awaited follow up to her groundbreaking book Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric.

Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.

13376363. sx318 Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire

What elevates ‘teaching my mother how to give birth’, what gives the poems their disturbing brilliance, is Warsan Shire’s ability to give simple, beautiful eloquence to the veiled world where sensuality lives in the dominant narrative of Islam; reclaiming the more nuanced truths of earlier times – as in Tayeb Salih’s work – and translating to the realm of lyric the work of the likes of Nawal El Saadawi. As Rumi said, “Love will find its way through all languages on its own”.

In ‘teaching my mother how to give birth’, Warsan’s debut pamphlet, we witness the unearthing of a poet who finds her way through all preconceptions to strike the heart directly. Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet and writer who is based in London. Born in 1988, she is an artist and activist who uses her work to document narratives of journey and trauma. Warsan has read her work internationally, including recent readings in South Africa, Italy and Germany, and her poetry has been translated into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

26141400. sy475 Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo

The artistry of QUESTIONS FOR ADA defies words, embodying the pain, the passion, and the power of love rising from the depths of our souls.  Ijeoma Umebinyuo’s poetry is a flower that will blossom in the spirit of every reader as she shares her heart with raw candor.  From lyrical lushness to smoky sensuality to raw truths, this tome of transforming verse is the book every woman wants to write but can’t until the broken mirrors of their lives have healed.  In this gifted author’s own words—“I am too full of life to be half-loved.”  A bold celebration of womanhood.

 

53038421. sx318 sy475 a fire like you by Upile Chisala

A fierce and lyrical collection of poetry celebrating the moments of triumph and beauty in our lives, as well as the moments of despair—recasting them as opportunities for growth.

In this never-before-published collection, poet Upile Chisala grapples with themes of love, loss, and desire. Throughout this third book, she explores her identity as a black Malawian woman, offering intimate reflections on her life and experiences, imparting a stirring, universal message of empowerment and self-love.

Something Quite Unlike Myself by Michael Onsando

Something quite unlike myself is a book trying to explore experimental poetry as a tool to navigate finding a space for oneself in a world constantly clamouring for your attention. I wrote it as a way to try and understand what is going on in the world while trying to understand what I make of it as well. Usually one is asked ‘what inspired this book?” Well, poetry did. The idea that poetry can somehow move, change, create and sometimes destroy worlds that we see. It can see through the world as it is, and, sometimes, even as we would like it to be. I wanted to write poetry that talks about Kenya, being young in Kenya and (not)understanding how the system (doesn’t) work. The name “Something Quite Unlike Myself” is that because that’s what the book navigates, being a stranger in your own body. Being a stranger in your own city, your own country. So, while the book is much about looking, and failing, to find oneself. It is also about the state of affairs in the country. It is about a political class that is completely oppressing the class below it. And a middle class that seems okay with this oppression. It is about reconciling the idea that somehow things will get better with the reality that – without any real work from us – they won’t.

380188Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems by Sonia Sanchez

An extraordinary retrospective covering over thirty years of work, From a leading writer of the Black Arts Movement and the American Poetry Society’s 2018 Wallace Stevens Award-winner.

Shake Loose My Skin
 is a stunning testament to the literary, sensual, and political powers of the award-winning Sonia Sanchez.

 

 

50684The Black Unicorn: Poems by Audre Lorde

Rich continues: “Refusing to be circumscribed by any simple identity, Audre Lorde writes as a Black woman, a mother, a daughter, a Lesbian, a feminist, a visionary; poems of elemental wildness and healing, nightmare and lucidity. Her rhythms and accents have the timelessness of a poetry which extends beyond white Western politics, beyond the anger and wisdom of Black America, beyond the North American earth, to Abomey and the Dahomeyan Amazons. These are poems nourished in an oral tradition, which also blaze and pulse on the page, beneath the reader’s eye.”

 

18585282Salt by Nayyirah Waheed

Salt is a journey through warmth and sharpness. This collection of poetry explores the realities of multiple identities, language, diasporic life & pain, the self, community, healing, celebration, and love.

 

 

 

380191Homegirls and Handgrenades by Sonia Sanchez

In a style that is hers alone, Sonia Sanchez brings politics and poetry together as she passionately relates scenes from the lives of poor blacks. Sanchez is a remarkable writer . . . this is s book in which the whole adds up to far more than the parts.

 

 

 

6549. sx318 , said the shotgun to the head by. by Saul Williams

The greatest Americans

Have not been born yet

They are waiting quietly

For their past to die

please give blood

Here is the account of a man so ravished by a kiss that it distorts his highest and lowest frequencies of understanding into an Incongruent mean of babble and brilliance…

21814519The Heart of a Comet by Pages Matam

Creative, wild and nerdy explorations of eternity, inner-space, anime, African culture, The secret culture of DC and more in this debut from this gifted African American author and storyteller.

 

 

 

37544050. sy475 Sons of Achilles by Nabila Lovelace

Sons of Achilles questions what it means to be in and of a linage of violence. In this collection, Nabila Lovelace attempts to examine the liminal space between violence and intimacy. From the mythical characters that depict and pass down a progeny of violence through their canonization, to the witnessing of violence, Lovelace interrogates the ways violence enters and inhabits a life.

 

 

 

25490270Forest Primeval by Vievee Francis

“Another Anti-Pastoral,” the opening poem of Forest Primeval, confesses that sometimes “words fail.” With a “bleat in [her] throat,” the poet identifies with the voiceless and wild things in the composed, imposed peace of the Romantic poets with whom she is in dialogue. Vievee Francis’s poems engage many of the same concerns as her poetic predecessors—faith in a secular age, the city and nature, aging, and beauty. Words certainly do not fail as Francis sets off into the wild world promised in the title. The wild here is not chaotic but rather free and finely attuned to its surroundings. The reader who joins her will emerge sensitized and changed by the enduring power of her work.

22929740Turning into Dwelling by Christopher Gilbert

Christopher Gilbert’s award-winning Across the Mutual Landscape has become an underground classic of contemporary American poetry. Now reissued and presented with Gilbert’s never-before-published last manuscript written before his death in 2007, Turning into Dwelling offers new readers the original music and vision of one of our most inventive poets.

 

 

25946457. sy475 My Seneca Village by Marilyn Nelson

Poetry illustrated in the poet’s own words – with brief prose descriptions of what she sees inside her work — this exquisite collection takes readers back in time and deep into the mind’s eye of Marilyn Nelson. A girl ponders being free-but-not-free. Orphaned brothers get gold fever. A conjurer sees past his time and into ours. The voices of a multi-ethnic, multi-racial 19th century Manhattan neighborhood are rising again One of America’s most honored writers – a Newbery Honor medalist, Coretta Scott King Medalist and National Book Award nominee -draws upon history, and her astonishing imagination, to revive the long lost community of Seneca Village.

53056340. sx318 sy475 The Malevolent Volume by Justin Phillip Reed

Subverting celebrated classics of poetry and mythology and examining horrors from contemporary film and cultural fact, National Book Award winner Justin Phillip Reed engages darkness as an aesthetic to conjure the revenant animus that lurks beneath the exploited civilities of marginalized people. In these poems, Reed finds agency in the other-than-human identities assigned to those assaulted by savageries of the state. In doing so, he summons a retaliatory, counterviolent Black spirit to revolt and to inhabit the revolting.

 

48984964Finna: Poems by Nate Marshall

Dynamic poems that celebrate the Black vernacular and engage with the world through the lens of Hip Hop as well as America’s vast reserve of racial and gendered epithets–from an award-winning author and poet.

fin-na /ˈfinə/ contraction: (1) going to; intending to. rooted in African American Vernacular English. (2) eye dialect spelling of “fixing to.” (3) Black possibility; Black futurity; Blackness as tomorrow.

A lyrical and sharp celebration, these poems consider the brevity and disposability of Black lives and other oppressed people in our current era of emboldened white supremacy. In three key parts, Finna explores the mythos and erasure of names in the American narrative; asks how gendered language can provoke violence; and finally, through the celebration and examination of the Black vernacular, expands the notions of possibility, giving us a new language of hope.

44803713Bonfire Opera: Poems by Danusha Lameris

Poems In Praise of the Impossible, Wild World and Its Beauty

Sometimes the most compelling landscapes are the ones where worlds collide: where a desert meets the sea, a civilization, no-man’s land. Here in Bonfire Opera, grief and Eros grapple in the same domain. A bullet-hole through the heart, a house full of ripe persimmons, a ghost in a garden. Coyotes cry out on the hill, and lovers find themselves kissing, “bee-stung, drunk” in the middle of road. Here, the dust is holy, as is the dark, unknown. These are poems that praise the impossible, wild world, finding beauty in its wake.

52229060. sx318 sy475 We Inherit What the Fires Left: Poems by William Evans

William Evans, the award-winning poet and cofounder of the popular culture website Black Nerd Problems, offers an emotionally vulnerable poetry collection exploring the themes of inheritances, dreams, and injuries that are passed down from one generation to the next and delving into the lived experience of a black man in the American suburbs today.

In We Inherit What the Fires Left, award-winning poet William Evans embarks on a powerful new collection that explores the lived experience of race in the American suburbs and what dreams and injuries are passed from generation to generation. Fall under the spell of Evans’s boldly intimate, wise, and emotionally candid voice in these urgent, electrifying poems.

This eloquent collection explores not only what these inheritances are composed of, but what price the bearer must pay for such legacies, and the costly tolls exacted on both body and spirit. Evans writes searingly from the perspective of the marginalized, delivering an unflinching examination of what it is like to be a black man raising a daughter in predominantly white spaces, and the struggle to build a home and a future while carrying the weight of the past.

However, in beautiful and quiet scenes of domesticity with his daughter or in thoughtful reflection within himself, Evans offers words of hope to readers, proving that resilience can ultimately bloom even in the face of prejudice. Readers of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Hanif Abdurraqib will find a brilliant, fresh new talent to add to their lists in William Evans.

53107525. sx318 sy475 Anodyne by Khadijah Queen

The poems that make up Anodyne consider the small moments that enrapture us alongside the daily threats of cataclysm. Formally dynamic and searingly personal, Anodyne asks us to recognize the echoes of history that litter the landscape of our bodies as we navigate a complex terrain of survival and longing. With an intimate and multivocal dexterity, these poems acknowledge the simultaneous existence of joy and devastation, knowledge and ignorance, grief and love, endurance and failure—all of the contrast and serendipity that comes with the experience of being human. If the body is a world, or a metaphor for the world, for what disappears and what remains, for what we feel and what we cover up, then how do we balance fate and choice, pleasure and pain? Through a combination of formal lyrics, delicate experiments, sharp rants, musical litany, and moments of wit that uplift and unsettle, Queen’s poems show us the terrible consequences and stunning miracles of how we choose to live.

44803714Imperial Liquor: Poems by Amaud Johnson

Imperial Liquor is a chronicle of melancholy, a reaction to the monotony of racism. These poems concern loneliness, fear, fatigue, rage, and love; they hold fatherhood held against the vulnerability of the black male body, aging, and urban decay. Part remembrance, part swan song for the Compton, California of the 1980s, Johnson examines the limitations of romance to heal broken relationships or rebuild a broken city. Slow Jams, red-lit rooms, cheap liquor, like seduction and betrayal—what’s more American? This book tracks echoes, rides the residue of music “after the love is gone.”

 

30414764. sx318 trigger by Venus Selenite

trigger is a bold, intimate, and comfortable/uncomfortable quest, through Selenite’s eyes, in being Black, being queer, being trans, being a woman, and being non-binary in the 21st century, in what continues to be systemic and oppressive, but also adventurous and ecstatic.

 

 

 

39729525. sx318 Black Queer Hoe by Britteney Black Rose Kapri

A refreshing, unapologetic intervention into ongoing conversations about the line between sexual freedom and sexual exploitation.

Black Queer Hoe is a refreshing, unapologetic intervention into ongoing conversations about the line between sexual freedom and sexual exploitation.

Women’s sexuality is often used as a weapon against them. In this powerful debut, Britteney Black Rose Kapri lends her unmistakable voice to fraught questions of identity, sexuality, reclamation, and power, in a world that refuses Black Queer women permission to define their own lives and boundaries.

35297455. sy475 For Every One by Jason Reynolds

Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world.

For Every One is just that: for every one. For every one person. For every one dream. But especially for every one kid. The kids who dream of being better than they are. Kids who dream of doing more than they almost dare to dream. Kids who are like Jason Reynolds, a self-professed dreamer. Jason does not claim to know how to make dreams come true; he has, in fact, been fighting on the front line of his own battle to make his own dreams a reality. He expected to make it when he was sixteen. Then eighteen. Then twenty-five. Now, some of those expectations have been realized. But others, the most important ones, lay ahead, and a lot of them involve kids, how to inspire them. All the kids who are scared to dream, or don’t know how to dream, or don’t dare to dream because they’ve NEVER seen a dream come true. Jason wants kids to know that dreams take time. They involve countless struggles. But no matter how many times a dreamer gets beat down, the drive and the passion and the hope never fully extinguish—because just having the dream is the start you need, or you won’t get anywhere anyway, and that is when you have to take a leap of faith.

A pitch perfect graduation, baby, or love my kid gift.

52782895. sx318 sy475 We Want Our Bodies Back: Poems by Jessica Care Moore

A dazzling full-length collection of verse from one of the leading poets of our time.

Over the past two decades, jessica Care moore has become a cultural force as a poet, performer, publisher, activist, and critic. Reflecting her transcendent electric voice, this searing poetry collection is filled with moving, original stanzas that speak to both Black women’s creative and intellectual power, and express the pain, sadness, and anger of those who suffer constant scrutiny because of their gender and race. Fierce and passionate, Jessica Care moore argues that Black women spend their lives building a physical and emotional shelter to protect themselves from misogyny, criminalization, hatred, stereotypes, sexual assault, objectification, patriarchy, and death threats.

We Want Our Bodies Back is an exploration—and defiant stance against—these many attacks.

51374831Ain’t Never Not Been Black by Javon Johnson

Ain’t Never Not Been Black foregrounds Black pleasure Black pain and Black love in unflinchingly Black ways. Engaging with themes of masculinity, racism, love, and joy, Johnson is at once critical and creative. His spoken word performance transfers effortlessly to the page, with poems that will encompass you. This is a book about blackness and survival, and how in American these are inseparable. In a world of individualism, who can you hold close? In a world of danger, what makes you feel safe? From a poem written in the form of a syllabus, to another about the time his grandmother literally saved his life, Johnson’s creative expression is constantly enacting the feminist mantra, “the personal is political.”

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Check out these other posts and threads to discover more books by Black authors and to  educate yourself about race, racism and Black history:

Queer YA Books by Black Authors spreadsheet

190 Books by Black Authors thread

LGBTQ+ Speculative Fiction Books and Comics by Black Authors thread

15 Books by Black Authors Releasing in June 2020

Children’s Books That Discuss Race and Racism thread

Black History Month Library

And please check this ccard as well to learn more about ways on how you can help Black people and the Black Lives Matter movement: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/.

And before you go, here is your reminder that Black lives matter every single day.

Every.

Single.

Day.

No one deserves to be treated differently just for the color of their skin. We should do our best to unlearn racism and completely eliminate it in our communities. It’s not easy. It will take time. It will take efforts. It will be challenging. But what matters is that we’re constantly trying to fight it for us all to finally live in a world where no one is being discriminated and killed just for the color of their skin. As we are all equal and therefore should be treated as such, and deserves to be respected no matter what our skin color is.

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18 thoughts on “50 Poetry Books Written by Black Authors

    1. You’re welcome, Karina! It was actually fun researching for this list. I have discovered lots of Black poets who I now admire. And I am now excited to read these books myself. Hope you’ll enjoy! ❤

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  1. I loved The Crown Ain’t Worth Much and There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce, and of course Helium was amazing (I am a HUGE Rudy Francisco fan). I’ll have to check out more of these soon! Thanks for compiling this list 😊

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  2. I don’t care at all what skin has a poet. I look and find if she / he IS a poet (by my meaning) and that’s enough. Yes, I know the old sad stories about George Sand and so on. But now we are living in a different world. And for me that’s a much better world, though I’ve already 78 (picture is old!) and can’t only 1/5 from what I could `earlier`. And? Nothing. If I like a poem (picture, opera, movie…), it’s really enough.

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    1. I get your point. An author’s skin color definitely isn’t an indication of how good they are as a poet. Still I think, reading books by Black authors and other POCs are important. Hence, I created this post. Even though it’s just unconscious, if you’re only reading books by white people, that can really limit your view of the world. BIPOCs have stories to tell that are often not being listened to and I think it’s important for us all to acknowledge and listen to their stories.

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