October 17th marks Black Poetry Day, a day to honor African American poets, both past and present and recognize their contributions to literature. Today we are celebrating Black Poetry Day by shining a spotlight on a few contemporary Black woman poets. Each of these poets brings their unique experiences of womanhood, culture, and race to their works, creating beautiful and poignant poetry. Check them out below!
Amanda S. C. Gorman is an American Black woman poet and activist. She is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, as well as an award-winning writer and cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where she studied Sociology. Her work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora.
In 2017, Gorman was appointed the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate by Urban Word – a program that supports Youth Poets Laureate in more than 60 cities, regions and states nationally. And in 2021, she became the youngest poet to present an inaugural reading, presenting her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the Presidential Inauguration.
Check out her debut poetry collection, The Hill We Climb And Other Poems, a collection on hope and healing.
Aja Monet is contemporary poet, writer, lyricist and activist of Cuban-Jamaican descent from Brooklyn, New York. She is known to be the youngest poet to have ever become the Nuyorican Poets Café Grand Slam Champion at the age of 19 in 2007, and is the last woman to have won this title since.
Monet follows in the long legacy and tradition of poets participating and assembling in social movements. Her first full collection of poems is titled, My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter on Haymarket Books. Her poems explore gender, race, migration, and spirituality. In 2018, she was nominated for a NAACP Literary Award for Poetry and in 2019 was awarded the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award for Poetry for her cultural organizing work in South Florida.
Check out her poetry collection, My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter on Haymarket Books, an ode to mothers, daughters, and sisters— “the tiny gods who fight to change the world.”
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Yona Harvey is an American poet and assistant professor at University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of the poetry collections You Don’t Have To Go To Mars for Love, which won the Believer Book Award for Poetry and Hemming the Water, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Additionally, she is also an author of Marvel Comics’ World of Wakanda, becoming one of the first two black women writing for Marvel.
Her work focuses on “the diverse lives and experiences of Black American women through literature…the visibility and invisibility of Black women, our mental health and self-care, and the evidence of our imaginations in society.”
Check out her most recent award-winning poetry collection, You Don’t Have To Go To Mars for Love.
Eve L. Ewing
Dr. Eve L. Ewing is an American sociologist, author, poet, and visual artist from Chicago. She is the award-winning author of four books: the poetry collections Electric Arches and 1919, the nonfiction work Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side, and most recently a novel for young readers, Maya and the Robot. She has written several projects for Marvel Comics, most notably the Ironheart series.
In addition to her writing career, Ewing is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and many other publications.
Her poetry collection Electric Arches is in part a portrait of Ewing’s home city of Chicago and real life events. Combining both poetry, prose, and visual art this collection is described as “an imaginative exploration of black girlhood and womanhood.” Check it out here.
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