4 Black Poets You Should Be Reading

 
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WRITTEN BY HELORY LAURENT

Two years ago I made the decision to start reading more poetry that wasn’t for a school assignment. The first poetry book I bought was Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur after seeing it all over Bookstagram. Kaur’s work took me by surprise, as there was so much truth to her words that I could relate to as not only a woman, but also a woman of color. Since I am a young black woman living in America, I was on the hunt for poetry written by Black/African Americans. I wanted to read and support the work of those who look like me, and within my search, as well as through close acquaintances, I came across four Black poets with incredible work dealing with love, heartbreak, loss, mental health, trauma, and healing. I’ve compiled a list of these poets, along with my favorite poems from each of their words.

1. K.Y. Robinson – The Chaos of Longing

Misogynoirist

“Black women
are only good
for sex.”

his words
cut into my flesh
removed my entrails
and stripped the
yellow, red, and blue
of my being

i felt invisible
unlovable
a petal punctured
by the thorn on his side
even though
we bloomed from
the same concrete

i thought our hues
were created to fuse
into one another
brotha.

 

2. Hanif Willis-Abdurraquib – The Crown Ain’t Worth Much

 

The Scouting Report For The Only Black Boy On The Soccer Team

says:
he real
fast but he prone to gamble
like his daddy was when
harlem was still loud and
tall and saying
and they both make the kinda
mistakes that leave whole families
on their backs
in the grass mourning and
hungry
he real fast though and
short but he jump real
real high like there might be somethin’
in the sky he trying to reach
he jump way higher this season
heard the sky opened up and
got his grandma last winter but
he take plays off
like he out here sleeping
he be sleep through 6am practice
sleep through women’s studies class
sleep through his mom’s throat
closing shut like an old wound
sleep through the sirens and gasping outside
his bedroom door and barely even
move ‘til she a ghost
but he real fast
and see the whole field
sometimes think he
may never stop watching
just waiting for someone
to come home.

 

3. Eliel Pierre – Crowned Confessions

Punching Bag

Like the best of friends, comedy
Defined our friendship, we shared
Many laughs,
But it was seldom at the same thing,
The more we reminisced, the quieter
The laughter.
The same ole joke gets worn out over use
And I got tired of being
Your punchline.

 

 

4. Cheyenne Jacobs – The Tragic Type of Beautiful

 

Uprooting

I tried rooting myself into many things
My education
My job,
My relationships.

But then I realized all these things are seasonal
These things change and we become uprooted
We become displaced
By stuff that should not have kept us grounded

I do not bother now to root myself
In the things that change as easily as the wind
Instead I choose to root myself in my faith
At the end of the day it is the only thing I have