Monday, August 27, 2012

25 poems by African American poets for a class

I won't bore you with the details of how much time I spend figuring out which poems to expose students in my courses each semester. Way too much. Whatever the case, in  one course, comprised of all first-year collegiate black women this semester, we will cover about 50 poems. The works I have selected are by and about black women.

[Related: Different tonalities, perspectives & views of black women's poetry]

The first half of the semester, between now and mid-October, we'll concentrate on the following 25 poems:

• "kitchenette building" by Gwendolyn Brooks
• "a song in the front yard" by Gwendolyn Brooks
• "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks

• "Harriet" by Lucille Clifton
• "slaveship" by Lucille Clifton
• "wishes for sons" By Lucille Clifton
• "won't you celebrate with me" By Lucille Clifton 
• "homage to my hips" By Lucille Clifton
• "I am New York City" by Jayne Cortez
• "I am a Black Woman" by Mari Evans 
• "Nikki-Rosa" By Nikki Giovanni
• "Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)" By Nikki Giovanni
• "Bury Me in a Free Land" By Frances E. W. Harper
• "Down and Out" by Langston Hughes
• "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes
• "Madam and Her Madam" By Langston Hughes
• "Madam and the Phone Bill" By Langston Hughes 
• "The Heart of a Woman" By Georgia Douglass Johnson 
• "Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem" By Helene Johnson
• "a/needed/poem for my salvation" by Sonia Sanchez
• "Summer Words of a Sustuh Addict" by Sonia Sanchez
• "Molly Means" by Margaret Walker
• "Kissie Lee"  by Margaret Walker
• "Lineage" By Margaret Walker
• "On Being Brought From Africa to America" by Phillis Wheatley

100-plus Poems I Read & Re-Read (online) in 2011
25 Poems We've Already Read  


Adriene said...

Great list! For the second half of the class, do you (or would you) consider Ntozake Shange, Rita Dove, and Natasha Trethewey?

H. Rambsy said...

Hey thanks.

Oooo yeah, the second half of the semester? That's going to be trickier for me. But yes, certain Dove and Trethewey are in the running. I hadn't thought of Shange, so thanks for making this even harder.

It's possible, since I work with the students in the spring semester too, that I will get to hold off even longer. But we'll see. It'll be a challenge and pleasure figuring out the next 25 for this group of students.