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  • Monique Howard

Honoring Contributions to Black Literacy: Six Poets You Should Know

When recalling great poets, one would be remiss without acknowledging the contributions the African American community has made in the literary world. Resounding voices over the decades celebrate life's joys and reflect on hardships through words that deeply connect with a reader. And also leave a lasting impact on their perspective of the world around them. Readers and poets alike are rooted by the deep connection that comes from shared cultural and social experiences as people of color. Poets from the past and present share their visions in this collection of influential writers.



Langston Hughes is widely known for works featuring Black life experiences in America set during the 1920s through the 1960s. Hughes wrote novels, short stories, plays, and poetry and is also known for his involvement in jazz as it was a great influence on his work. He was a highly influential force of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance.



Cornelius Eady penned numerous collections of poetry and, along with fellow poet Toi Derricotte founded Cave Canem in 1996, which is a non-profit organization supporting emerging black poets from diverse backgrounds and providing a haven for intellectual growth. Eady also collaborated with composer Deidre Murray on many musical theater productions.



Author and Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Kwame Dawes inspires up and coming black poets through his contributions to Calabash International Literary Festival, Cave Canem, and the African Poetry Book Fund. Dawes is also the editor in chief of the renowned Prairie Schooner.



Contemporary poet Donte Collins is a member of the youth advisory board, TruArtSpeaks, a non-profit organization that fosters a love for literacy, positive leadership, and social justice through spoken word and hip-hop culture. Collins is also the editor at Button Poetry, which is an impactful platform for spoken word poetry.



Teacher and poet Sekou Sundiata’s works paid homage to black culture and tradition. Sundiata recorded poetry that was accompanied by the musical talents of Craig Harris, David Murray, and Nona Hendryx to name a few.




Poet, novelist, editor, and critic Nathaniel Mackey examined the creative infusion of language and music. Jazz greatly influenced his work. Mackey is also the Reynolds Price Professor of English at Duke University, and from 2001 to 2007, he served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poetry.



Photo Credit: Van Vechten Trust. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University/Chip Cooper. Courtesy of Blue Flower Arts/Andre Lambertson. Courtesy of Blue Flower Arts/poetryfoundation.org-Gloria Graham


Source: Poetry Foundation.org

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