It’s Black History Month! And while I try to read and highlight Black writers throughout the year, I thought I’d contribute a few extra posts for folks celebrating and folks looking for more resources. While spoken word is my first love, I have been getting better at reading poetry and so I thought I’d share some of my favorite Black women poets and collections that I’m reading or that are on my list. Let me know in the comments what you’re reading this month!
Black lesbian poet Cheryl Clarke’s 1992 collection, first published by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, is about love and women creating representation.
Fed up with the whiteness of the poetry and nearly all literature taught in my school, Audre Lorde was one of the first poets I really connected with. The poems in this collection are beautiful and powerful, and explore how we inhabit multiple positions. Find “A Litany for Survival,” and other poems here.
This work collects over 40 poems by the author of Push, as unflinching and harrowing and powerful as her novel, but also trigger warnings for abuse and incest.
When it comes to poetry, spoken word is my first love. Here’s Blood Dazzler by amazing Patricia Smith, check our her spoken word performances (some videos are available online)! This collection follows Hurricane Katrina and the destruction unleashed through the voices of survivors, politicians and even the hurricane itself.
Another slam poet, Dominique Christina is also an educator and activist and this work is her second poetry collection. She takes on topics such as genocide, police violence, Katrina and menstruation.
In this collection, poet Samiya Bashir takes on fear and power through gospel, but not necessarily (just) the religious meaning of the word. By the way, Bashir’s newest work comes out in April!
In the 2016 collection Beastgirl, Afro-Latina poet Acevedo interweaves personal stories, mythology and Dominican culture.
Also a spoken word artist, Angel Nafis’ poetry leaps off the page: “I am here now,/speaking and giving/in bursts/of chest, and effort,/and temperature.”
This is poet, writer, performance artist, social critic, editor, educator, and technologist Venus Selenite’s debut collection “is a bold, intimate, and comfortable/uncomfortable quest, through (Selenite’s) own eyes, in being Black, being queer, being trans, being a woman, and being non-binary in 21st century America, in what continues to be systemic and oppressive, but also adventurous and ecstatic” (venusselenite.com). Venus Selenite is also the co-editor of Nameless Woman: An Anthology of Fiction by Trans Women of Color (forthcoming).
The Gilda Stories author Jewelle Gómez writes poetry as well. In this 2015 collection, she examines experiences at multiple intersections, exploring her Native American (Ioway, Wampanoag) heritage and Black lesbian identity.