For National Poetry Day 2019, as sales of poetry books rise by 12% in the UK, we select 8 of the best new female poets and poems to start reading now. On the following paragraphs, you'll meet novelists, poets, journalists, playwrights, essayists, social commentators, and feminist theorists. While still a student at Oberlin, Graham’s 1932 musical drama Tom Tom was widely acclaimed. In 1996 the Academy of American Poets dubbed April National Poetry Month to celebrate the richness of American poetry. Upile Chisala self-published her first work, soft magic. The poems are bridges to our divinity, sensuality and uniqueness. 3. being a woman is a. Landan Osman poetry has been published in several notable literary magazines. Born in 1753, she was brought to New England from West Africa as a slave when she was nearly 8 years old. August 21, 2017 at 7:37 pm. She was awarded the Sillerman First Book Prize for her poetry collection, The Kitchen Dweller’s Testimony. In 2004, she became a professor at Berea College, a tuition-free, liberal arts college in Kentucky. Her first collection of poetry,Questions for Ada, aches and soothes. From 1985 until her retirement 2006, she taught writing at the State University of New York in Albany. They've written of what it was like to live in bondage, what Jim Crow America was like, and what 20th and 21st century America has been like for Black women. Published song (about 1919) with words by Georgia Douglas Johnson, music by H. T. Burleigh. she lays her hands on the pulse of the thing. The book has been self-described as an exploration of “self, joy, blackness, gender, matters of the heart, the experience of the Disaspora, spirituality and most of all how we survive.” It is heartfelt. Living temporarily in Haiti and Jamaica, she studied and wrote about the religions of the African diaspora. The group produced numerous plays, including several written by Anderson under her pen name of Ursula Trelling. Through her involvement with the Harlem Renaissance artistic movement of the 1920s, Dunbar-Nelson rose to prominence as an activist writer. As a key participant in the Black cultural Harlem Renaissance movement, she worked alongside other prominent writers such as Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen. the thickness is real. She started her career as a librarian in the New York Public Library System. When she was charged with conspiracy to murder, Davis went into hiding and was listed as one the FBI’s “Most Wanted.” Captured and jailed for over a year before being acquitted in 1972. She was also friends with the young Black girls killed in the Birmingham church bombing of 1963. One of the world's most well-known African-American poets, her work includes poetry anthologies, poetry recordings, and nonfiction essays, and covers topics ranging from race and social issues to children's literature. Her poems are simplistic in structure but deeply moving in content. In 2014, she founded the bell hooks Institute. And I preferred Audre Lorde to Shakespeare. Her father appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in its famous Hansberry v. Lee decision declared racially restrictive housing covenants illegal. March 6, 2019. In 1970, guns belonging to Davis were used in an attempt to help the inmates escape from a California courtroom. At age 26, Harper left Maryland and began teaching in New York. https://www.thoughtco.com/african-american-women-writers-3528288 When the family moved to a white neighborhood in 1938, they were attacked by neighbors, leaving only after being ordered to do so by a court. Often driving them to school herself, she protected and advised the nine students, known as the Little Rock Nine. She received a B.A. Inspiring Women Poets To Read "May I write words more naked than flesh, stronger than bone, more resilient than sinew, sensitive than nerve." As a result, his poetry focuses on the suffering of black people. After transferring to Sarah Lawrence College in New York, she traveled as an exchange student in Africa and received her BA in 1965. I say scourge. In 1957, Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun, a play about a struggling Black family in a tiny Chicago tenement. Mary Ann Shadd Cary (October 9, 1823 - June 5, 1893) was an American writer, anti-slavery activist, educator, lawyer, and the first Black woman to edit and publish a newspaper in North America. It was there, with the Civil War looming, that she decided to devote her writing skills to the antislavery effort. With a run of 530 performances, it was the first Broadway play written by a Black American woman. African American women writers have helped bring the Black woman's experience to life for millions of readers. In 1936, she was appointed director of Federal Theatre No. She decided then to write under her pen name, the name of her grandmother. “The Constitution says there are certain inalienable rights, among which are a free press, free speech, and free assemblage,” she said. Her most recent work, bone, has left many dazzled and stunned its riveting and emotional lyricism. As an honors graduate of Oberlin College and the daughter of one of the South’s first Black millionaires, Terrell was part of the growing Black upper class who used their social influence to fight for racial equality. Zora Neale Hurston, photo portrait by Carl Van Vechten. Her work is hopeful and positive, for those looking to give themselves some much needed love and comfort. Born Paulette Linda Williams to upper-middle-class Black parents in Trenton, New Jersey, Shange’s family moved to the racially segregated city of St. Louis, Missouri when she was eight. In New York, she wrote for Paul Robeson’s activist Black newspaper, Freedom, from 1950 to 1953. In 1910, she helped co-found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Along with serving as editor, Bates regularly wrote articles for the paper. Kind and critical—but not too critical for the young—they nursed us along until our books were born.”. The masthead of weekly abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, 1850. Her father, a janitor, and her mother, a schoolteacher and classically trained pianist, supported her passion for writing. With the success of her essay, Bonner was invited to join a circle of Washington, D.C. writers who met regularly at poet and composer Georgia Douglass Johnson’s “S Street Salon.” Over the next five years, she wrote a popular series of short stories published in Crisis and the National Urban League’s Opportunity magazine. As a successful writer, Shange focused on her experiences as a Black woman in America. In March of the same year, she as was forced to leave town after her article harshly condemning the lynching of three Black men enraged many prominent Memphis whites. I liked Allen Ginsberg more than I will ever like Emily Dickinson. Instagram poets, or "instapoets" as ... 9 Inspiring Instagram Poets to Follow in 2019. Mary Church Terrell (September 23, 1863 - July 24, 1954) was an activist and journalist, who fought for racial equality and women’s suffrage. If anything, you might walk away more whole--a transformed human being who understands that they need self-love, self-care and that they are not alone. They're listed alphabetically. When she learned that the police officer had been acquitted, Lorde wrote in her journal, “A kind of fury rose up in me; the sky turned red. but this body is, a blessing. From 1965 to 1984, she worked as a fiction editor at Random House Books. Robinson’s first published work is a searing work of art. I mourned sore like a dove and chattered forth my sorrow, moaning in the corners of the field, and under the fences.”. Much of Osman’s poetry, often narrative and personal, centers on her identity as a black Somali woman and as a Muslim. Her Obie Award-winning 1975 play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf, combines poetry, song, and dance to tell the stories of seven women, identified only by their color. First free African-American community: Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose (later named Fort Mose) in Florida; 1746. On December 21, 1886, one of her most powerful speeches, “I am an anarchist” was published in the Kansas City Journal. From 1926 to 1932, she wrote a weekly column, “Homely Philosophy,” that appeared in several Black American publications. By producing numerous literary and drama series, and art exhibitions, she first minority to be named a supervising librarian at the New York Public Library. In August 1761, she was purchased “for a trifle” by the wealthy Wheatley family of Boston who taught her to read and write, immersing her in studies of the Bible, astronomy, geography, history, and literature. She was educated at Rust University’s high school for formerly enslaved persons, and later at Fisk University. At age 87, she moved to Philadelphia. I loved poetry … The voices of black female poets have resounded in America for more than 250 years. I hope these five poems strengthen your spirit as you read, for they are masterpieces crafted with love, magic, whispers and sighs. Don't say forgotten, passed over. ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/african-american-women-writers-3528288. From looking at course syllabi alone, one might believe that poetry can only be written by people who have been dead for 50 years. Born in Gambia or Senegal, West Africa, she was seized by slave traders at age seven and transported to Boston aboard a slave ship called The Phillis. I betook myself to prayer, and in every lonely place, I found an altar. Though the short stories she had been writing since 1920 gained Hurston a following among Black Americans, it was her 1935 novel Mules and Men that gained her fame among the general literary audience. Since 1983, hooks has published dozen of books while teaching at four major universities. Hansberry attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison majoring in writing, but withdrew after two years and moved to New York City. After working as a librarian in the New York public schools throughout the 1960s, she taught as the poet-in-residence at historically Black Tougaloo College in Mississippi. I Guess By Now I Thought I'd Be Done With Shame. In 1854, she moved to Salem, Massachusetts, where she attended a private academy for young women as the only Black student in a class of 200. Like all of her works, her stories stressed the self-betterment of Black persons, particularly women, through pride, strength, and education. It acts as a letter to her future daughter—a guide for navigating the world as a black, Muslim woman. After graduating from Radcliffe, Bonner taught at Bluefield State University in Bluefield, West Virginia, and later at all-Black Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C. In her books such as Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (1989), Black Looks: Race and Representation (1992), and Where We Stand: Class Matters (2000), hooks conveys her belief that a woman’s true sense of value is determined by a combination of her race, political beliefs, and economic worth to society. An outspoken feminist, Walker created the term womanist to refer to “A Black feminist or feminist of color” in 1983. "27 Black American Women Writers You Should Know." Terrell’s passion for activism arose in 1892 after an old friend was lynched by a mob of whites in Memphis simply because his business competed with theirs. Warsan Shire has been awarded the inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize and the first Young Poet Laureate of London for her work in poetry. In her very first book, Ain’t I A Woman, hooks revealed the basis of her Black feminist theory when she wrote, “A devaluation of black womanhood occurred as a result of the sexual exploitation of black women during slavery that has not altered in the course of hundreds of years.”. After graduating from Straight University (now Dillard University) in 1892, Dunbar-Nelson taught in the New Orleans public school system. Poems by African-American poets, including Gwendolyn Brooks, Kwame Dawes, Rita Dove, Langston Hughes, Tyehimba Jess, Kevin Young, and more. Taking over as literary editor of The Crisis in 1919, Fauset introduced several previously unknown Black writers such as Langston Hughes and Claude McKay to a national audience. From 1957 to 1964, she taught at Howard. In 1988, her autobiography, The Long Shadow of Little Rock, won the American Book Award. “Many think, because your skins are tinged with a sable hue, that you are an inferior race of beings … It is not the color of the skin that makes the man, but it is the principle formed within the soul.”. (2021, February 16). Performed by an all-Black cast, Rachel portrays a young Black American woman living in the North during the early 1900s, who vows never to bring children into a land ruined by racism. “Every man has a right to express his opinion,” she wrote. Possibly the first Black female student to attend Cornell University, she graduated with a BA in classical languages in 1905. Throughout her lifetime, Mary Church Terrell fought for both racial and gender equality, writing that she belonged “to the only group in this country that has two such huge obstacles to surmount … both sex and race.”. Is that why the little kisses are not enough? In 1916, Johnson published her first poems in the NAACP’s magazine Crisis. Her poetry is beautiful and aching and raw. Her critically acclaimed 1987 novel Beloved, is based on the tragic true story of a runaway enslaved woman who chooses to kill her infant daughter to save her from a life of enslavement. Here are the 15 Black women poets you should know. Read this book. Regina M. Anderson (May 21, 1901 - February 5, 1993) was an American librarian, playwright, and patron of the arts who was responsible for advancing the careers of many Black artists of the New York Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. You will not be disappointed. Though it has been praised as a classic novel, it has also been banned by several schools due to its graphic details. She poignantly described the mental trauma of the resulting scar tissue in her 1983 essay “Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self.” As valedictorian of her class, Walker received a scholarship to Spelman, a college for Black women in Atlanta. I loved poetry in high school. Audre Lorde lecturing at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, 1983. The burning of the offices of The Memphis Free Speech by an angry mob launched her career as an anti-lynching crusader and pioneering investigative journalist. In her later life, Wells worked for urban reform and racial equality in the growing city of Chicago. In 1892, Wells became co-owner of the activist Memphis Free Speech newspaper. While a great novel is a great novel regardless of race or gender, BHM 365 wants to call out the absolute must-read books by black female writers that will inspire you . Her book of poetry, Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth, is an absolute must-read. Published in 1973, Morrison’s first book, The Bluest Eye tells the story of a young Black girl who prays every day for beauty. In 1905, Parsons was the only woman asked to address the founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and in 1931, she spoke in defense of the Scottsboro Boys, nine young Black American men accused of raping two white women on a train stopped in Paint Rock, Alabama. Now get in your car and drive to the nearest bookstore, and for the less actively inclined, go to Amazon and start supporting these incredibly talented poets. Wells, was a Black journalist, activist, teacher, and early civil rights leader who fought to end racism, sexism, and violence. From The Auction of enslaved people by Frances E.W. by djoyner. Gilbert Studios/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain. ... Dismantle the Master’s House, one of her renowned works, she talks about how feminism can sometimes be dismissive of black women. February is Black History Month, and to celebrate the contributions Black poets have made, and continue to make, to the richness of American poetry, we asked twelve contemporary Black poets from across the country to choose one poem that should be read this month and to tell us a bit about why. Poets (from left to right) Rita Dove, Gwendolyn Brooks, Kevin Young, Tyehimba Jess, and Langston Hughes 1738. Du Bois, whom she married in 1951. It is honest and relatable. America ’ s a list of young Black Girls killed in the colonies, ’... An activist writer - September 18, 1935 ) literary magazines 1961, they immigrated to Ghana they... Yale University and completed her Ph.D. in English at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles for her in... The Brunel University african poetry Prize as well as the country 's first notable African-American.... 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