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8 Inspiring Poetry Collections From Remarkable Black Poets 

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

“Art is not escape, but a way of finding order in chaos, a way of confronting life.”

By Imanee Magee

In celebration of Black Poetry Day on October 17, an annual event honoring African American poets, we’ve compiled a list of poetry collections from remarkable Black poets including Amanda Gorman, Kevin Young, Ross Gay, and more. These poems, ranging from ethereal to evocative, are sure to inspire.

Daughter Drink This Water is a culmination of affirmations apt for all readers. John writes about the sacredness of womanhood, kinship, and lessons on how to nurture an abundant, freeing life.

Stones by Kevin Young

Praised by the Los Angeles Times as “A book of loss, looking back, and what binds us to life, by a towering poetic talent, called ‘one of the poetry stars of his generation,’” Stones is a sentimental ode to Young’s departed loved ones, his family’s Southern roots, and the healing potential of poetry.

nectar by Upile Chisala

Celebrated for her short prose poetry, Malawian storyteller Chisala celebrates self love and spiritual renewal in nectar, a poem book as sweet as it is sentimental, devoted to inspiring women of color to wholeheartedly embrace––not shrink––oneself.

Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

A USA Today bestseller, Call Us What We Carry was written by inaugural poet Gorman, who performed the acclaimed poem “The Hill We Climb,” for President Joe Biden in 2021. Calling for unity, the signature poem “The Hill We Climb” reads, ‘then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.’

The Tradition by Jericho Brown

A winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Awards finalist, this ethereal poetry collection celebrates “Brown’s hard-won lyricism,” as declared by Oprah Magazine. In The Tradition, Brown expresses concerns over terrors and trauma adopted by people of color in order to survive.

My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter by Aja Monet

Activist and poet Aja Monet’s My Mothers Was a Freedom Fighter is an ode to revolutionaries: women who brazenly confront––and work to change––issues of sexism, racism, cycles of grief, and more. Political leader Angela Davis praises the volume for “expand our capacity to envision and fight for new worlds.”

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay

The 2016 winner of Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude is a tranquil meditation wrapped up between the binds of a book, wherein Gay’s comforting poems plant seeds of solace and serenity within the reader.

When You Hear Me: You Hear Us by Free Minds Writers

An eye-opening narrative illustrating the harsh reality of America’s prison system, this poetry anthology highlights the perseverance, trauma, and fearless spirits of those directly affected by mass incarceration, urging readers to amplify, not silence, their indispensable voices.

October 17, 2023