10 Poetry Collections by Black Women #BlackHistoryMonth

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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!

1.Narratives: Poems in the Tradition of Black Women by Cheryl Clarke gr-pic

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Black lesbian poet Cheryl Clarke’s 1992 collection, first published by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, is about love and women creating representation.

 

2.The Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde gr-pic

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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.

 

3.Black Wings & Blind Angels by Sapphire gr-pic

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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.

 

4.Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith gr-pic

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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.

5.They Are All Me by Dominique Christina gr-pic

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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.

6.Gospel by Samiya Bashir gr-pic

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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!

 

7.Beastgirl and Other Origin Myths by Elizabeth Acevedo gr-pic

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In the 2016 collection Beastgirl, Afro-Latina poet Acevedo interweaves personal stories, mythology and Dominican culture.

8. BlackGirl Mansion by Angel Nafis gr-pic

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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.”

9.Trigger by Venus Selenite gr-pic

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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).

10.Name Poems by Jewelle L. Gómez gr-pic

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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.

Further reading:

10 Works of Black Lesbian Short Fiction

What are you reading this Black History Month?

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The Diverse Books Tag

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This year Naz at Read Diverse Books started his own book tag, The Diverse Books Tag, which was predictably awesome! I took part on instagram but thought with the new blog focus I’d do a proper tag post. Since my focus is on reading women of Color I thought I’d look for/recommend a book for every category at the intersections of WOC. Also, as far as I’m aware these books are all #ownvoices. Lastly, I’m basically treating this as a personal tbr 😀

Here are the rules:

  1. Credit the original creator, Read Diverse Books.
  2. The Diverse Books Tag is a bit like a scavenger hunt. I will task you to find a book that fits a specific criteria and you will have to show us a book you have read or want to read.
  3. If you can’t think of a book that fits the specific category, then I encourage you to go look for oneA quick Google search will provide you with many books that will fit the bill. (Also, Goodreads lists are your friends.) Find one you are genuinely interested in reading and move on to the next category.

1. Find a book starring a lesbian character.

Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett gr-pic

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A Black lesbian lit classic about the first female-run African-American newspaper, Jam! On the Vine, set during the Jazz age. Doesn’t that sound amazing?

2.Find a book with a Muslim protagonist.

Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik gr-pic

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Basically romance but I want to read more fun lit and I’ve heard good things about it from Muslim book bloggers, so will give it a try.

3.Find a book set in Latin America.

Malambo by  Lucia Charun-Illesca,translated from Spanish by Emmanuel Harris II. gr-pic

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It’s important to seek out Afro-Latina voices and I read barely any Peruvian lit so this one sounded like a good start.

4.Find a book about a person with a disability.

Dirty River by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha gr-pic

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Love her poetry and have a copy of her memoir waiting on my shelf.

5.Find a Science-Fiction or Fantasy book with a POC protagonist.

The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj gr-pic

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This is set on a South Asian settled university planet on the brink of war between humans, aliens and modified humans. This book is “an erotic science fiction novel-in-stories” and sounds pretty cool. If you’ve read this let me if it’s romance heavy please!

6.Find a book set in (or about) any country in Africa.

Go Tell the Sun by Wame Molefhe gr-pic

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The stories in this collection are set in Botswana and I’ve read that there’s lesbian rep in at least one of them. The author also contributed a story to the Queer Africa collection.

7.Find a book written by an Indigenous or Native author.

Not Vanishing by Chrystos gr-pic

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Menominee poet Chrystos is a “warrior, writer, and arrow in the throat of colonization.”

8.Find a book set in South Asia (Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc.).

The Quilt & Other Stories by Ismat Chughtai gr-pic

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Ismat Chughtai was a feminist Urdu writer exploring gender, sexuality and caste in Muslim India’s middle-class. So happy my friend Vishy gifted me one of her books!

9.Find a book with a biracial protagonist.

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow gr-pic

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The main character Rachel is the daughter of a white Danish mother and an African-American father and goes to live with her grandmother after a tragedy. I reviewed this book here.

10. Find a book starring a transgender character or about transgender issues.

Me Hijra, Me Laxmi by Laxmi gr-pic

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This is the memoir of Indian hijra activist Laxmi. Though it has been translated from Marathi and apparently also slightly edited by the translators. Still on my tbr!

Have you read any of these? Where to start? Let me know in the comments!

Basically, everyone’s done this tag already but if not, consider yourself tagged! 🙂