5 Empowering Black Poets With Messages That Should Be Heard
Today is Black Poetry Day, a day that honors the contribution of Black poets throughout history while shining a light on the poets making their mark today… Amanda Gorman, we see you! Seriously, she was THE star of this year’s US inauguration ceremony, and no one can tell us otherwise. But we digress!
Black Poetry Day is celebrated on the 17th of October, which is also the birthday of Jupiter Hammon, AKA the first Black poet to be published. Jupiter Hammon is hailed as the father of Black literature, kinda like the Angela Davis of activism or the Madam C. J. Walker of hair care. The day doesn’t simply celebrate Black poetry but Black heritage as a whole, which is what makes it So. Damn. Powerful.
To join the celebrations, we wanted to shout out five incredible Black Poets whose lyrical rhymes deserve to be heard, to be read, and to be spoken about. Get ready for countless mic drop moments.
Jae Nichelle is a poet, performer, editor, and ghostwriter. She’s most well known for her spoken word poem on anxiety, titled “Friends With Benefits,” and her highly acclaimed poem, “Afro So Big.” These incredible performances have garnered over 50 million views on Facebook and 1 million on YouTube alongside her other works. And TBH, we’re not surprised; her poetry is beyond powerful. Honestly, check it out now. Oh, and get prepared to start clicking.
Fun fact: During spoken word poetry, the audience snaps their fingers together to show appreciation for the poet or their love for a particular line.
Porscha Olayiwola is a poet laureate and the creator of Black and Ugly as Ever, which scrutinizes societal norms of beauty and the tremendous toll it has taken on her as a queer Black woman. She is also a playwright and the author of a collection of poems, I Shimmer Sometimes, Too. Her work is emotive, moving, damming, and extremely powerful. Check out this performance, Tangled aka Rapunzel aka Long-Hair-Don’t-Care-and-What – you won’t regret it.
Stay tuned for our full interview with Porsha later this week.
Fun fact: A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government or institution, often expected to compose poetry for special events or occasions. In short, it’s like a knighthood for poets.
Safia Elhillo is a Sudanese American poet known for her written and spoken poetry. She has shared her work on platforms such as TEDxNewYork and Under Armour’s ‘Unlike Any’ campaign. Her work focuses heavily on identity as she wrestles between her Sudanese roots and growing up as a Black Arab in the United States. Her poetry speaks to the feeling of belonging and acceptance, making it relatable to all. Seriously, it will give you ALL the feels.
Amanda needs no introduction. She was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate, whose performance at the inauguration of US President Joe Biden made her a household name. Her work focuses on oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, yet despite commenting on such heavy and important issues, her words feel optimistic and full of promise. If you haven’t seen it already, you need to check out her inauguration performance. It’s a poem of our generation.
Fun fact: Amanda was the first poet ever to grace the cover of Vogue. She shared a post on Instagram in which she wrote: “The first poet ever on the cover of Vogue. I am eternally grateful & do not expect to be the last – for what is poetry if not beauty?”
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Kai-Isaiah is a spoken word poet and performer whose work tackles social constructs through dialogue, including race and gender. Their work poignantly deconstructs the notion of gender and stereotypes within Black culture, continuously exploring themselves. Their work doesn’t merely scratch the surface; it delves deep and leaves you questioning societal ‘norms’ and their place in your life and in society as a whole. It’s powerful, thought-provoking, and utterly beautiful.
Check out this spoken word from Kai-Isaiah, which reflects on our lives during lockdown. We clicked so hard our thumbs are sore.
Do you guys enjoy spoken-word poetry? Let us know in the comments below.