Every year on September 4th, we celebrate the birth of Beyoncé, aka Queen Bey. One of the world’s most influential artists, Beyoncé is more than a singer—she is a symbol of fierce femininity, unbridled power, and artistic expression. So in honor of her Bey-Day, enjoy these six empowering poems.
“The Unbearable Weight of Staying” by Warshan Shire
This Somali-British poet is featured throughout Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade and is credited under “Film Adaptation and Poetry.” As the album opens, Beyoncé provides a heart-stopping voice-over, reciting lines from Shire’s poem “The Unbearable Weight of Staying.”
“Denial” by Warshan Shire
Another feature from Lemonade, “Denial” provides a powerful and haunting account of the destruction that comes with seeking beauty, acceptance, and validation. Echoing the question “Are you cheating on me?” the poem tells the story of how misogyny has wedged women into blaming themselves for their partner’s betrayal.
“Poem on Beyoncé’s Birthday” by Morgan Parker
It couldn’t get more on-the-nose than this. In her collection There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, Parker uses Beyoncé (along with other entertainers) to explore what it means to be a black woman in America today. In an interview with The Cut, Parker says, “In the book, Beyoné is every black woman—she’s me, she’s you. Her name is this kind of stand-in for everything that we see and are and how folks see us…somehow by using just one name it points to that kind of multiplicity.”
“Beyonce in Third Person” by Morgan Parker
Another poem by Parker suits the mood for this holiday, as in this poem she writes, “I am very complicated, and so is Beyoncé.” Parker told The Cut, “In the same way that Lemonade and “Formation” have been these love letters to all of the states of black womanhood, I hope that she would see this project as a similar one. I would want her to be grateful that it’s in the world, and I would want her to laugh and not sue me. I don’t need her to love it. I wrote it for all black women, and Beyoncé is included in that.”
“Poem For A Lady Whose Voice I Like” by Nikki Giovanni
This poem concludes with the line, “Show me someone not full of herself, and I’ll show you a hungry person.” The poem depicts a conversation between a man and a woman, in which the man’s insults do not phase the woman speaking. This poem is a message for all women to love themselves shamelessly and be proud of their talents, regardless of critics.
“Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou
A message of empowerment, confidence, and the ability to define your own beauty, “Phenomenal Woman” is the perfect poem to closeout Beyoncé’s birthday bash. This sultry, unapologetic poem flies in the face of society’s antiquated standards of beauty and femininity. Like much of Beyoncé’s work, the poem is a reminder that being our boldest selves is the most phenomenal thing we can do.