10 Black poets whose work lives on

10 Black poets whose work lives on
Maya Angelou (Photo credit: Sistarazzi for rolling out)

April is National Poetry Month. To celebrate and enlighten, here is a list of 10 of the best and most influential Black poets of all-time. We’ve also included the title of some of the most famous work written by each, to encourage further exploration of their work.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)                


Maya Angelou was one of the most respected and renowned figures of the 20th century, and is widely regarded as one of the best poets of all time. Her poems explored themes such as love, loss, racism and women’s issues.

Poem to read: “Still I Rise”


10 Black poets whose work lives on
Photo courtesy of blackbookstore.com

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)

Gwendolyn Brooks was the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. Her poetry talked about themes such as solidarity, Black pride, and rebellion.

Poem to read: “We Real Cool”

10 Black poets whose work lives on

Lucile Clifton (1936-2010)

Lucile Clifton was a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Gender, family, and racism were three common themes in her work.

Poem to read: “Homage to My Hips”

10 Black poets whose work lives on
Photo courtesy of blackbookstore.com

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

Paul Laurence Dunbar was famous for not only his poetry, but his short story work as well. His poetry covered suffering, freedom, and race.

Poem to read: “Sympathy”

10 Black poets whose work lives on
Photo courtesy of blackbookstore.com

Langston Hughes ( 1901-1967)

Hughes is one of the most important literary figures of all time. He is best known for a new form of literary art called “jazz poetry,” and is regarded as the leader of the Harlem Renaissance.

Poem to read: “Harlem”

10 Black poets whose work lives on
Langston Hughes’ first collection of poetry
Photo courtesy of blackbookstore.com

June Jordan (1936-2002)

The use of “Black English” is one the staples of Jordan’s work. Her poetry discussed issues ranging from immigration, to gender, to race.

Poem to read: “On a New Year’s Eve”

10 Black poets whose work lives on
Photo courtesy of blackbookstore.com

Audre Lorde (1934-1992)

 The 20th century poet is the child of Caribbean immigrants, a perspective that had a lot of influence on her work. Themes she tackled included homophobia, classism, and racial inequality.

Poem to read: “Coal”

10 Black poets whose work lives on
Photo courtesy of blackbookstore.com

Claude McKay (1890-1948)

Jamaican native Claude McKay is best known for his contributions to the Harlem Renaissance. The theme of cultural identity was prevalent across his poetry.

Poem to read: “America”

10 Black poets whose work lives on
Photo courtesy of blackbookstore.com

Derek Walcott (1930-2017)

The painter turned writer’s style is unique in that he often mixed languages in his work, using English, French, and Caribbean Patois. His poetry covered themes such as colonialism, Caribbean history, identity, etc.

Poem to read: “Omeros”

10 Black poets whose work lives on
Photo courtesy of blackbookstore.com

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)

The 18th century writer was the first African American author of a published book of poetry. Religion and inclusion were two of the major themes in her poetry.

Poem to read: “A Hymn to Humanity”

10 Black poets whose work lives on
Phillis Wheatley, first African American to publish a book of poems.
Photo courtesy of blackbookstore.com
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