It’s part of a larger swell of poetry used as protest, solidarity and mourning across the country. As Black Poets Speak Out grows, more and more poets are reading their original work. Perhaps that’s why so many people, even outside Black Poets Speak Out, are turning to poetry, after their own words fail them.
The hashtag #BlackPoetsSpeakOut began to spread, accompanying posts on Twitter, Facebook and in submissions to the official Tumblr. Gadson started a YouTube playlist, and the scholar Howard Rambsy began cataloging the videos on his site, Cultural Front. VONA, a workshop for writers of color, also started cataloging the videos.
As Black Poets Speak Out grows, more and more poets are reading their original work. But most people so far have read the work of famous poets, such as Lucille Clifton, Langston Hughes and Claude McKay, as well as renowned contemporary poets, including Evie Shockley and Cornelius Eady.
Perhaps that’s why so many people, even outside Black Poets Speak Out, are turning to poetry, after their own words fail them. In the wake of tragedy, it can help make sense of the senseless; iconic black poets’ words are painfully timeless.
Also quoted often is Claudia Rankine, whose recent book Citizen, a National Book Award finalist, deals directly with racism and micro-aggressions black people face every day. The timeliness of her words has prompted several interviews and profiles, most recently on PBS’ NewsHour.
Adults aren’t the only ones singing in this choir. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a story Wednesday about how seventh-graders in Jennings, Missouri, just a few miles from where Michael Brown was killed, are using poetry to speak out themselves. Read more…