Saturday, June 30, 2012

Active African American Poets over 65

Back in late February, Haki Madhubuti celebrated his 70th birthday. He joined a group of fellow poets already in their 70s who remain active cultural, creative forces. Madhubuti and Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943) were always two of the younger poets associated with the black arts era. Below is a list of African American poets over the age of 65:

• Naomi Long Madgett (b. 1923) 
• Gloria Oden (b. 1923)
• Mari Evans (b. 1923)
• Dolores Kendrick (1927)
• Maya Angelou (b. 1928)
• Derek Walcott (b. 1930)
• Sonia Sanchez (b. 1934)
• Amiri Baraka (b.1934)
• Johari Amini (b. 1935)
• Colleen J. McElroy (b. 1935)
• Jayne Cortez (b. 1936)
• Eugene B. Redmond (b. 1937)
• Ishmael Reed (b. 1938)
• Michael S. Harper (b. 1938) 
• Askia Muhammad TourĂ© (b. 1938)
• Quincy Troupe (b. 1939)
• Al Young (b. 1939)
• Sterling Plumpp (b. 1940)
• Haki Madhubuti (b. 1942)
• William J. Harris (b. 1942)
• Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943)
• Alice Walker (b. 1944)
• Marilyn Nelson (b. 1946)
• Wanda Coleman (b. 1946)
• Nathaniel Mackey (b. 1947)
• Kalamu ya Salaam (b. 1947)

The active presence of so many elder poets creates a long memory in American and African American cultural life.  We are perhaps at a rare moment with so many prominent black poets over the age of 65.        

Updates: Thanks to a knowledgeable, sharing commenter (see below), I've added Oden & Kendrick to the list. Hopefully, I'll add more. If you have additions, let me know. 

A Notebook on the Black Arts Era 
A Notebook on Birth Years & Age Matters

5 comments: said...

Great list. Have you heard of Gloria Oden, born in 1923, who published her first book in 1952 and her most recent in 2011?

H. Rambsy said...

Wow...just started reading about Oden based on your mention of her. Thanks so much. said...

another elder...

Dolores Kendrick (1927 - )

author of The Women of Plums: Poems in the Voices of Slave Women and other books

William Woolfitt said...

and also Colleen J. McElroy (born 1935)

H. Rambsy said...

Thanks for that. Added her.