10 contemporary Black poets to read today

10 contemporary Black poets to read today
Amanda Gorman (Image source: Instagram – @amandascgorman)

April is National Poetry Month. To celebrate and inform, here is a list of 10 of the best and most influential living Black poets. Furthermore, we’ve included the title of some of the most famous work written by each.

Jericho Brown


The Pulitzer Prize winner is one of the most important voices in modern poetry. He’s made it his mission to normalize political discussions in everyday life. 

Poem to read: “Host”


10 contemporary Black poets to read today
Photo courtesy of Blackbookstore.com

Rita Dove

Rita Dove is a former Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She was the first Black person appointed to that position. Her poetry covers a wide variety of topics that many people can relate to.

Poem to read: “Adolescence I”

10 contemporary Black poets to read today
Photo courtesy of Blackbookstore.com

Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni is one of the most well-respected poets of her generation. Her anthologies on race relations and social issues have been important additions to conversations surrounding these important topics.

Poem to read: “Vote”

10 contemporary Black poets to read today
Photo courtesy of Blackbookstore.com

Amanda Gorman

 To many, the 24-year-old burst onto the scene when she performed an original, moving spoken word poem at Joe Biden’s Inauguration. But Gorman was building a name for herself well before that. In 2017, she became the first National Youth Poet Laureate. Also, in 2016, she founded her own nonprofit, One Pen One Page. Her poetry covers themes such as oppression, feminism and race.

Poem to read: “The Hill We Climb”

10 contemporary Black poets to read today
Photo courtesy of Blackbookstore.com

Terrance Hayes

Hayes is a former MacArthur Fellow, a prestigious creative honor given to commemorate originality and excellence in creative pursuits. His poetry delves into masculinity and popular culture.

Poem to read: “Shafro”

10 contemporary Black poets to read today
Photo courtesy of Blackbookstore.com

Tyehimba Jess

Detroit native Tyehimba Jess won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2017. His unique style that mixes poetry and music often tackles America’s mistreatment of marginalized groups.

Poem to read: “Mercy”

10 contemporary Black poets to read today
Photo courtesy of Blackbookstore.com

Danez Smith

Smith identifies as queer and nonbinary, and is well-known for their slam poetry that covers racial inequity and economic injustice.

Poem to read: “Tonight, in Oakland”

10 contemporary Black poets to read today
Photo courtesy of Blackbookstore.com

Tracey K. Smith

In 2011, Tracey K. Smith’s poetry collection, Life on Mars, won a Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Loss, grief, sacrifice and family are four big themes across Smith’s work.

 Poem to read: “The Good Life”

10 contemporary Black poets to read today
Photo courtesy of Blackbookstore.com

Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey’s long list of honors include twice being appointed United States Poet Laureate, and winning the 2007 Pulitzer Prize. Her biracial background influences much of the nuanced issues she explores in her poetry.

Poem to read: “Letter Home”

10 contemporary Black poets to read today
Photo courtesy of Blackbookstore.com

 Alice Walker

Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker is widely known for her novel The Color Purple, but she is also one of the best poets of all time. Her poetry tackles themes such as isolation, racial identity, economic hardship, etc.

Poem to Read: “A Picture Story For The Curious”

10 contemporary Black poets to read today
Photo courtesy of Blackbookstore.com
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