Celebrate African American History Month in Stanzas and Song


A poet’s connection to history is often palpable, whether they are speaking directly to the past or reaching out to us Lucille Clifton Plaque, "For Cornelia" from some bygone era. Within American poetry, there is a rich tradition of African American voices speaking to both their personal histories and the larger historical narratives that have shaped their lives. A reader could explore African American history this month through the voices of Jazz Poetry, the Harlem Renaissance, or the Black Arts Movement, some of whom you’ll find on this list. I’ve added a couple newcomers and names that might be a little less familiar, too. Plus, there’s Tupac. All the makings of a good jumping off point to celebrate African American history this February. 

Cover Art: Scratching the Ghost, Booth Cover Art: American Smooth Cover Art: Head Off & Split, Finney Cover Art: Acolytes, Giovanni

Scratching the ghost : poems / Dexter L. Booth
American Smooth / Rita Dove
Head Off & Split / Nikky Finney
Acolytes / Nikki Giovanni

Cover Art: The 100 Best African American Poems, Giovanni Cover Art: Lighthead, Hayes Cover Art: The Chameleon Couch, Komunyakaa Cover Art: The Big Smoke. Matejka

The 100 best African American poems / edited by Nikki Giovanni
Lighthead / Terrance Hayes
The chameleon couch : poems / Yusef Komunyakaa
The big smoke / Adrian Matejka

Cover Art: Hum, May Cover Art: Sleeping with the Dictionary, Mullen Cover Art: Fortune's Bones, Nelson Cover Art: Morning Haiku, Sanchez

Hum / Jamaal May
Sleeping with the dictionary / Harryette Mullen
Fortune's bones : the manumission requiem / Marilyn Nelson
Morning haiku / Sonia Sanchez.

Cover Art: The Rose that Grew from Concrete, Shakur Cover Art: Native Guard, Trethewey Cover Art: The Architecture of Language, Troupe Cover Art: Ardecy, Young

The rose that grew from concrete / Tupac Amaru Shakur
Native Guard / Natasha Trethewey
The architecture of language / Quincy Troupe
Ardency / Kevin Young

Flickr CC: For Cornelia by Kathleen Tyler Conklin