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6 inspirational poets you should read all year round, not just during Black History Month



If you are the person who blurts out "I am a poet and I didn't even know", if there is anything related to poetry in conversation or if you have ever uttered the bolder of them The worn poetry phrases – "Poetry is dead "- read on . My non-poetic friends, this is a non-judgmental zone.

However, this should serve as a reminder that there are many (and many, many) poets you should read regardless of whether you have read a lot of poems in the past or not.

The poets listed below, all highlighted by the Poetry Foundation, have greatly shaped the writing landscape in the United States, changing words and life. Even if they venture outside traditional concepts of poetry and some poets write novels, short stories and texts here, they have all done a core of poetry with outstanding grace and skill: they have routinely increased the language itself and put words together in a uniquely amazing way and Way poets do it.

Because of their frequent focus on issues of identity and social justice, the work of these poets during Black History Month is excellent for reading. But an even better ( Nudge, Nudge ) idea is to read your work all year round, incorporate your words into the material of your own life, and encourage others to do so to do that right away.

Danez Smith

  6 inspirational poets you should read all year round, not just during Black History Month

Image: Justin Baker / Getty Images

Danez Smith has made big waves in the world of poetry today. Smith's poems, which have received numerous grants and awards, are further enriched by her rousing readings. They have won prizes in poetry slam tournaments, and their readings can be a good place to start for poetry readers who need guidance when they first encounter a new poem.

To continue listening to Smith on the go, you can also listen to the Poetry Foundation's podcast called VS, which they host together.

Recommended reading: Start virally reading "Dear White America" ​​and then go to your collection Don & # 39; t Call Us Dead (2017), one national book price finalist.

Haki R. Madhubuti

  6 inspiring poets you should read all year round, not just during Black History Month

Image: Robert Abbott Sengstacke / Getty Images

Haki R. Madhubuti, born Donald Luther Lee was a member of the Black Arts movement, whose early involvement in groups such as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee influenced his activist-oriented poetry. Madhubuti also founded organizations to provide resources and forums for black writers, including the Third World Press Foundation in 1967.

He also received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Suggested reading: Total spoiler alarm for another poet on this list, but Madhubuti's poem "Gwendolyn Brooks" cannot be overlooked. Published in the 1969 Collection, Don & # 39; t Cry, Scream is available on the Poetry Foundation website here.

Camille T. Dungy

  6 inspirational poets you should read year round, not just during Black History Month

Image: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for the NAACP Image Awards

Camille T. Dungy, who received her BA from Stanford and an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has taken a unique path as a poet and educator. Dungy's poems often contain topics related to the natural world and give urgency to the hope in her poems. (She also published a book, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Natural Poetry (2009) to address the lack of black poets in natural poetry anthologies.)

Recommended Reading: For those new to Dungy's work, try her collection Smith Blue (2011), a finalist for a Poetry Society of America award. Smith Blue summarizes larger questions about love, loss, and nature in an understanding of these universal, itchy themes of the 21st century.

Gwendolyn Brooks

  6 inspiring poets you should read all year round, not just during Black History Month

Image: Bettmann Archive via getty images

I mean, hello, it is Gwendolyn Brooks . The Poetry Foundation calls her "one of the most respected, influential, and widely read poets of 20th century American poetry," and she has the honor to prove it: Brooks was the first black writer to win the Pulitzer Prize and the first black Woman who worked as a poetry consultant for the Library of Congress (now United States Poet Laureate). Her words have inspired countless others and are still reverberating to this day. In short: it is itself a classic.

Suggested reading: Again it is Gwendolyn Brooks. The scope of her career is huge, so starting with some of her most famous poems can be helpful. You might start with "My Dreams, My Works Must Wait Until Hell" and "We Real Cool" on the Poetry Foundation website, and then see where that takes you.

Rita Dove

  6 inspirational poets you should read all year round, not just during Black History Month

Image: JOEY MCLEISTER / Star Tribune via Getty Images

Hardly limited to a formal definition of "poetry", Rita Dove's work has opposed the genre, which is instead characterized by Dove's own poetry. Her honors are extensive, as are her works: she has won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and has worked as both the American Poet Laureate and the Poet Laureate of Virginia.

When she was named United States Poet Laureate in 1993 and became the youngest person appointed to the position, Dove traveled across the country, from hospitals to schools, to spark enthusiasm for poetry and literary art.

Suggested reading: For an expansive career like Dove & # 39; s, start with Collected Poems: 1974-2004 (2016), a collection that won the 2017 NAACP Image Award a poetry finalist was awarded for the National Book Award 2016.

E. Ethelbert Miller

  6 inspirational poets to read all year round, not just during Black History Month

Image: Dudley M. Brooks / The Washington Post via Getty Images

As a student, E. Ethelbert Miller attended Howard University, where he was later director of the African American Studies Resource Center for over 40 years.

He has published an amazing number of collections of poems, including Where are the love poems for dictators? (1986) and Whisper, Secrets and Promises (1998). He received poetry awards and grants for his work.

Another funny award? Mayors in Washington, DC, and Jackson, Tennessee, both have “E. Ethelbert Miller Day ”in their cities, according to the Academy of American Poets.

Suggested reading: There is a large selection, but his poem "Malcolm X, February 1965", which is available here from the Poetry Foundation, remains particularly haunting.

To keep finding other poets to read, you can go to the Poetry Foundation website for more information on more poets such as Audre Lorde, Langston Hughes and June Jordan, and a treasure trove of poems.


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