National Poetry Month, established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, it is the largest literary celebration in the world marking poetry’s importance to culture. Occurring every April, it was inspired by the successful celebrations of Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March).
In recognition of this month, here is a list of our favorite poetry books from the past and present. Let us know what you think in the comments section below. Have you read either of these titles? What is your favorite poetry book?
A complete collection over 300 poems from one of this country’s most influential poets.
“These are poems which blaze and pulse on the page.” Adrienne Rich “The first declaration of a black, lesbian feminist identity took place in these poems, and set the terms beautifully, forcefully for contemporary multicultural and pluralist debate.” Publishers Weekly “This is an amazing collection of poetry by . . . one of our best contemporary poets. . . . Her poems are powerful, often political, always lyrical and profoundly moving.” Chuckanut Reader Magazine “What a deep pleasure to encounter Audre Lorde’s most potent genius . . . you will welcome the sheer accessibility and the force and beauty of this volume.” Out Magazine
Award-winning poet and playwright Idris Goodwin interrogates and remixes our cultural past in order to make sense of our present and potential futures.
“Situated squarely in the oral traditions of hip-hop and breakbeat poetry, Idris Goodwin’s work bridges the divide between the reader and the poet. Combining tongue in cheek and the irreverent with the melancholy and incisive, Goodwin’s poetry samples and repurposes pop culture–in order to reflect and remix the stories we tell ourselves–and each other–in order to live”
In the world of Jericho Brown’s second book, disease runs through the body, violence runs through the neighborhood, memories run through the mind, trauma runs through generations. Almost eerily quiet in even the bluntest of poems, Brown gives us the ache of a throat that has yet to say the hardest thing–and the truth is coming on fast.
A literary coming-of-age poetry collection, an ode to the places we call home, and a piercingly intimate deconstruction of daughterhood, Black Girl, Call Home is a love letter to the wandering black girl and a vital companion to any woman on a journey to find truth, belonging, and healing. As a competitive spoken-word poet who draws large crowds of people, Jasmine Mans’s collection is divided into six sections, each with a corresponding active telephone number where she has recorded excerpts of her poems. You can listen now, just dial! Using poetry to bring change to the world with positive agitation and hoping to prompt dialogue where there is normally fear, poet Jasmine Mans explores the intersection of race, feminism, and queer identity in her latest collection Black Girl, Call Home…”
One glance at So Far, So Good and it becomes evident that this is not merely a collection of a song writer’s lyrics. The song-poems of this undisputed “Bluesologist” triumphantly stand on their own, evoking the rhythm and urgency which have distinguished Gil Scott-Heron’s 20 year career. This collection carries the reader from the global topics of political hypocrisy and the dangers posed by Capitalist culture to painfully personal themes and the realities of African American life. Always, Scott-Heron supports his mission of unveiling America’s hypocrisy and inaction with hope for an African American future of self liberation.