“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” ~ Rita Dove

In celebration of Black History Month, we offer this collection of work by Black poets from our monthly poetry series. Each of these writers illuminates the great fullness of life, with all of its poignancy, joy, sorrow, wonder, pain, and possibility. In these poems, readers are invited into the unique experiences of individual Black lives, the extraordinary ordinariness of the everyday, and the transformative space of human resilience and gratitude.   

We invite you to reflect on the ways in which these poems move your heart: to embrace life as a gift; to fully see one another; to wholly love ourselves and each other in all our humanness; to heal together; and to live into the opportunity we each have to pour forth our grateful hearts–today and every day–as we act in service of a world held as sacred by all and for all.


#11
by Hakim Bellamy
If I spell my name in bruised melanin

and ink                    across this mud and breath

made flesh             melt down these gold fillings…
Read the full poem


Ode to Lemons
by Michelle Courtney Berry
Today,
the sun-glazed
bag of lemons
adorning the white counter…
Read the full poem


what is unveiled? the founding wound
by adrienne maree brown
a body is always a body
individual or collective
(whole or in many pieces)
alive or, later, dead…
Read the full poem


Crossing
by Jericho Brown
The water is one thing, and one thing for miles.
The water is one thing, making this bridge
Built over the water another. Walk it
Early, walk it back when the day goes dim…
Read the full poem


blessing the boats
by Lucille Clifton
may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out…
Read the full poem


A Lazy Day
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
The trees bend down along the stream,
Where anchored swings my tiny boat.
The day is one to drowse and dream
And list the thrush’s throttling note….
Read the full poem


Thank You
by Ross Gay
If you find yourself half naked
and barefoot in the frosty grass, hearing,
again, the earth’s great, sonorous moan that says
you are the air of the now and gone,…
Read the full poem


Praise
by Angelo Geter
Today I will praise.
I will praise the sun
For showering its light
On this darkened vessel….
Read the full poem


The Gift to Sing
by James Weldon Johnson
Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh, I have a magic way
To turn the gloom to cheerful day—…
Read the full poem


The Bronze Legacy
by Effie Lee Newsome
Tis a noble gift to be brown, all brown,
     Like the strongest things that make up this earth,
Like the mountains grave and grand,
     Even like the very land,…
Read the full poem


African landscape sunset

An African Elegy
by Ben Okri
We are the miracles that God made
To taste the bitter fruit of Time.
We are precious.
And one day our suffering…
Read the full poem


On Safety
by Nadine Pinede
When the storms of life
come bearing down
threatening to
lash you senseless,…
Read the full poem


To discover more poetry, visit our complete collection and sign up to receive a poem each month in your inbox.

*The image band at the top of of this page features a mural celebrating the Black cultural and entertainment community in Hot Springs, AK from the 1930s to the 1960s. Title: Black Broadway, Artists: Pepe Gaka, Anthony Tidwell & Cutwell 4 Kids