5 Black Women Poets You Need In Your Life
National Poetry Month occurs every April and was inaugurated in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. It has grown to be the largest celebration in the world, celebrated by schools, libraries, booksellers, and publishers.
Thanks to social media, poetry has found new spaces to breathe. People who typically wouldn’t be exposed to poetry now have access to it and can get close and personal with talented poets.
Poetry, much like other art forms, has strongly been influenced by the creative genius of black women. For black poets who craft stories of black love, joy, loss, and persistence, their words are an extension of themselves and give hope to readers - black readers, specifically, who are doing their best to exist in a world that wants black culture but not its people.
To close out this year’s National Poetry Month, I’d like to share with you five black women poets to read whenever you need a reminder of your absolute magic.
She is a self-described “quiet” poet, but her work speaks volumes. In her published books of poetry, salt. and nejma., and through short poems about love, sex, self-acceptance, and letting go, Waheed speaks to the Black women who are struggling to celebrate who they are in a world that constantly tells us who we should be.
Poet and award-winning spoken word artist Ashlee Haze turned the work of Missy Elliot into an ode to fat, cool, and unapologetic Black womanhood. In poems like “The Help,” she acknowledges the legacy of Black women in America as domestics who worked jobs often considered shameful, and in doing so are the reason why so many of us are able to have better lives.
Reyna Biddy is a spoken word poet, and author based in Los Angeles, California. Reyna is known for both her positive affirmations and poetry online. Her work speaks to the lost, heals the broken, and gives hope to those who feel there’s none left. Reyna’s work is brutally honest, allowing you to experience her hurt, as well as her healing process.
Alysia Nicole Harris
Alysia Nicole Harris, an award-winning poet and spoken word artist turns themes of religion, womanhood, love, and heartbreak into poems that feel like home. Her poem “Cab Rides and the Morning After” is an emotional and raw look at connection, sex, and spending time alone.
You may know Warsan Shire from hearing her poems on Beyonce’s 2016 visual album, Lemonade. But her work that touches upon womanhood, healing, and trauma impacted readers long before she collaborated with Queen Bey. Her poem “The House” is a good place to start to experience how she turns pain into stories that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading them.