Category Archives: Black History Month 2021

Angelique Zobitz

Black History Month Day 18.

Today I would like to introduce a young emerging poet.

Pyriscence
By Angelique Zobitz (1980-)

for Breonna, Oluwatoyin, Rekia, Riah, Kayla, Dominique, Michelle, Nina, Miriam, Sandra, Atatiana, Monica, Charleena, Chynal, Korryn, India, Alexia, Mya, Tanisha, Sheneque, Natasha, Tanisha, Kendra, LaTanya, Danette, Muhlaysia, Margaret, Dana, Eleanor, Bee Love, Frankie Ann, ​​Alberta, Tarika, Aiyana, Bailey, Shereese, Sharmel, Alesia, Shelly, & all the ones we have not learned of #SayHerName)

Read the complete poem here.

Pauli Murray

Black History Month Day 15.

Mr. Roosevelt Regrets (Detroit Riot, 1943)
By Pauli Murray (1910–1985)

Upon reading PM newspaper’s account of Mr. Roosevelt’s statement on the recent race clashes: “I share your feeling that the recent outbreaks of violence in widely spread parts of the country endanger our national unity and comfort our enemies. I am sure that every true American regrets this.”

Read the complete poem here.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Black History Month Day 14.

A Negro Love Song
By Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

Seen my lady home las’ night,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hel’ huh han’ an’ sque’z it tight,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hyeahd huh sigh a little sigh,
Seen a light gleam f’om huh eye,
An’ a smile go flittin’ by–
Jump back, honey, jump back.

Hyeahd de win’ blow thoo de pine,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Mockin’-bird was singin’ fine,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
An’ my hea’t was beatin’ so,
When I reached my lady’s do’,
Dat I couldn’t ba’ to go–
Jump back, honey, jump back.

Put my ahm aroun’ huh wais’,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Raised huh lips an’ took a tase,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Love me, honey, love me true?
Love me well ez I love you?
An’ she answe’d, “‘Cose I do”–
Jump back, honey, jump back.


This poem is in the public domain.

Patricia Smith

Black History Month Day 13.

Patricia Smith is a contemporary poet who combines personal with political to tell powerful stories. She is a consummate performer.
The following poem appears in her hurricane Katrina poem collection, Blood Dazzler, which tells the hurricane’s detailed story.

Siblings
By Patricia Smith (1955-)

Hurricanes, 2005

Arlene learned to dance backwards in heels that were too high.
Read the poem here.

Listen to her read “Siblings” here.

Jessie Redmon Fauset

Black History Month Day 12.

There are so many poets who are relatively unknown to the world. I have been actively reading and researching poetry for many years, yet I never encountered this poet. I am glad I found her now. This New Yorker article sheds light on her work.

La Vie C’est La Vie
By Jessie Redmon Fauset (1882-1961)

On summer afternoons I sit
Quiescent by you in the park,
And idly watch the sunbeams gild
And tint the ash-trees’ bark.
Or else I watch the squirrels frisk
And chaffer in the grassy lane;
And all the while I mark your voice
Breaking with love and pain.
I know a woman who would give
Her chance of heaven to take my place;
To see the love-light in your eyes,
The love-glow on your face!

And there’s a man whose lightest word
Can set my chilly blood afire;
Fulfillment of his least behest
Defines my life’s desire.

But he will none of me, nor I
Of you. Nor you of her. ‘Tis said
The world is full of jests like these –
I wish that I were dead.


This poem is in the public domain.

Nikki Giovanni

Black History Month Day 11.

Although a lot of Nikki Giovanni’s poetry is based on socio-political upheavals, she also wrote semi-autobiographical poems that stem from her own experiences in life. She became a staunch supporter of other black women poets as well women in general. I chose “Mothers” because mother-daughter relationships fascinate me.

Mothers
Nikki Giovanni (1943-)

the last time i was home
to see my mother we kissed
Read the complete poem.

Rita Dove

Black History Month Day 10.

To appreciate the poem, it’s necessary to be familiar with the story of Persephone and her mother, Demeter. In case you have forgotten, here is the myth of Persephone. The poem can be read as a piece of parental advice from a mother to her daughter. It is a scorching commentary on the society in which an innocent girl exploring the world on her own looking for “One narcissus among the ordinary” (something exceptional) should be punished severely for her quest.

Persephone, Falling
By Rita Dove (1952-)

One narcissus among the ordinary beautiful
flowers, one unlike all the others! She pulled,
Read the complete poem here.

Gwendolyn Brooks

Black History Month Day 9.

Gwendolyn Brooks is the 20th-century black poet of the post-slavery era. Her poetry deals with the struggles of the ordinary people in the community. She is widely known for her often-quoted poem “We Real Cool.” “The Mother” is a heart-wrenching poem of the void that was never filled with the lives of children because they were or had to be aborted.

The Mother
By Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)
Abortions will not let you forget.
Read the complete poem here.