Black Poetry Day Resources

Celebrate Black Poetry Day!

We have a number of things to do and ways to celebrate Black Poetry Day including virtual exhibits, podcasts, reading recommendations, poetry performances and more!

October 17 is annually recognized as Black Poetry Day to honor the contributions of Black poets and writers throughout this country’s history, both past and present. With that in mind, we’ve gathered a number of resources for you to check out to celebrate Black Poetry Day.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but rather is intended to serve as a jumping off point for you to further continue your exploration of and appreciation for Black poets. Who are some of your favorite Black poets and poems? Let us know in the comments!

Virtual Exhibits for Black Poetry Day

Pauli Murray: Survival With Dignity

Pauli Murray: Survival With Dignity

Pauli Murray (1910-1985) was a poet, a lawyer, a priest, a freight hopper, Eleanor Roosevelt’s friend, arrested for refusing to comply with bus segregation laws, a closeted member of the LBGTQ+ community, a professor, and so much more. Their work has influenced Supreme Court decisions, the Civil Rights movement, and countless individual people. Get to know the life and work of Murray and see how they used poetry to advocate for change.

American Voices exhibit logo

American Voices

In the online adaptation of our physical exhibit American Voices, you can delve into more than 400 years of American writing featuring a number of Black poets throughout. Learn more about barrier-breakers like Phillis Wheatley, who at the age of 20 became the first published African-American author in 1773 for her poetry. Or brush up on the classics like Paul Laurence Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson, Sterling A. Brown, and more.

Recorded live at the inaugural American Writers Festival, poet Michael Warr reads his work and is joined by fellow poets, including a powerful performance from avery r. young, the inaugural Chicago Poet Laureate.

Podcasts for Black Poetry Day

Between our three podcast seriesAWM Author Talks, Nation of Writers, and Dead Writer Drama—we have a number of episodes with contemporary Black poets and/or about prominent Black poets of the past.

Reading Recommendations for Black Poetry Day

We suggest perusing both our Black History Month Reading List and the Dark Testament Reading List, presented in conjunction with our special exhibit Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice, on display now. Both of these lists are packed full with works by Black poets, as well as plenty other forms and genres of writing. For some more specific reading about Black poets, check out any of these blogs below.

Photo of Langston Hughes with quote by that reads: "In all my life I have never been free. I have never been able to do anything with freedom, except in the field of my writing."

American Voices: Langston Hughes

Learn more about the life and work of poet Langston Hughes, from our exhibit American Voices.

Photo of Paul Laurence Dunbar with quote of his that reads, "This, this indeed is to be accursed,/For if we mortals love, or if we sing,/We count our joys not by what we have,/But by what kept us from that perfect thing."

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask

Filmmaker Frederick Lewis discusses Dunbar and his documentary about him.

Square graphic with a portion of Gwendolyn Brooks' poem "Primer for Blacks" that reads: "Blackness—the Black of it, the rust-red of it, the milk and cream of it, the tan and yellow-tan of it, the deep-brown middle-brown high-brown of it, the 'olive' and ochre of it—Blackness marches on."

Typewriter Tuesday: Gwendolyn Brooks

Learn about the writing habits and tools of Gwendolyn Brooks from our exhibit Tools of the Trade.

Writer, poet, educator and activist Mahogany L. Browne reads her poem “In the Next.”

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