Anthology of Black Poets

Dear Friends,
Our River Writing community unabashedly supports the Black Lives Matter movement. We're committed to the mission of dismantling white supremacy and ending racism.

The call to examine our own habits led us to scrutinize the shelves of our library as well as the poetry we bring to our writing tables. While we've always shared the work of many black, indigenous, poets of color, we see now how we've underrepresented them, especially given the extraordinary depth and breadth of their work. This growing anthology is especially curated for poems which offer prompt lines or generate questions for River Writing.

As a community, we are working to dismantle white supremacy in all the ways we can, but this quiet one may be closest to home. We hope that this relatively brief but growing list will serve to amplify the brilliant work of melanated voices. We believe in the transformative power of poetry. Thank you for engaging it. If you feel drawn to the work of a particular poet, consider buying their book from an independent book store. You could even buy two and donate one to our library, we'll gladly share it with the community! Buying actual books is the best way to support poets and poetry. Enjoy reading!



*Ai (b. 1947 - d. 2010)
Book: Vice: New and Selected Poems
Elizabeth Alexander (b. 1962)
*Maya Angelou (b. 1928 - d. 2014)
James Baldwin (b. 1924 - d. 1987)
Amiri Baraka (b. 1934 - d. 2014)
Reginald Dwayne Betts (b. 1980)
Gwendolyn Brooks (b. 1917 - d. 2000)
*Jericho Brown (b. 1976)
A Foreday
The Tradition
Mahogany L. Browne (b. 1976)
*Lucille Clifton (b. 1936 - d. 2010)
homage to my hips 
won’t you celebrate with me
blessing the boats
Countee Cullen (b. 1903 - d. 1946)
Yrsa Daley-Ward (b. 1984)
Rita Dove (b. 1952)
Paul Laurence Dunbar (b. 1872 - d. 1906)
Nikky Finney (b. 1957)
T’ai Freedom Ford (b. unknown)
*Ross Gay (b. 1974)
Becoming A Horse
The Puritan in Me
Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943)
Robert Hayden (b. 1913 - d. 1980)
Terrance Hayes (b. 1971)
bell hooks (b. 1952)
*Langston Hughes (b. 1901 - d. 1967)
*Major Jackson (b. 1968)
Tyehimba Jess (b. 1965)
June Jordan (b. 1936 - d. 2002)
Yusef Komunyakaa (b. 1947)
Etheridge Knight (b. 1931 - d. 1991)
Kurtis Lamkin (b. unknown)
Audre Lorde (b. 1934 - d. 1992)
Toni Morrison (b. 1931 - d. 2019)
Morgan Parker (b. 1987)
Claudia Rankine (b. 1963)
Ntozake Shange (b. 1948 - d. 2018)
*Clint Smith (b. 1988)
Book: Counting Descent
Danez Smith (b. 1989)
dear white america
*Tracy K. Smith (b. 1972)
*Sonya Renee Taylor (b. 1976)
*Nayyirah Waheed (b. unknown)
Book: Salt 
Book: Nejma 
*Alice Walker (b. 1944)
Book: Hard Times Require Furious Dancing
Calling All Grandmothers 
I WIll Keep Broken Things 
Phyllis Wheatley (b. 1753 - d. 1784)