After Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States this week, Amanda Gorman took to the stage and recited her poem "The Hill We Climb." It was there and then that the world felt the power of her words and an outpouring of support flowed in from the likes of Oprah, Obama, Lin Manuel Miranda and more.
While we have to wait a few months to get our hands on Amanda Gorman's books, her words have shown the incredible effect that poetry can have on a nation. If you were inspired by Amanda Gorman, here are 5 other black poets that you should be reading:
1. Maya Angelou read her poem, 'On the Pulse of the Morning,' at President Clinton's inauguration 28 years ago. To celebrate her that day, Oprah gifted her a coat. And in the same fashion, Oprah gifted Amanda Gorman a caged bird ring, a nod to Angelou's famous "I Know When a Caged Bird Sings." Maya Angelou, one of the best-loved poets of our time, shares the wisdom of a remarkable life in her poetry book, Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now. This is Maya Angelou talking from the heart, down to earth and real, but also inspiring. This is a book to treasured, a book about being in all ways a woman, about living well, about the power of the word, and about the power do spirituality to move and shape your life. Passionate, lively, and lyrical, Maya Angelou's latest unforgettable work offers a gem of truth on every page.
2. From NPR correspondent and New York Times bestselling author, Kwame Alexander, comes Light for the World to See, a powerful and provocative collection of poems that cut to the heart of the entrenched racism and oppression in America and eloquently explores ongoing events. A book in the tradition of James Baldwin's "A Report from Occupied Territory," Light for the World to See is a rap session on race. A lyrical response to the struggles of Black lives in our world . . . to America's crisis of conscience . . . to the centuries of loss, endless resilience, and unstoppable hope.
3. For more than fifty years, Nikki Giovanni's poetry has dazzled and inspired readers. As sharp and outspoken as ever, she returns with this profound book of poetry in which she continues to call attention to injustice and racism, celebrate Black culture and Black lives, and and give readers an unfiltered look into her own experiences. In Make Me Rain, she celebrates her loved ones and unapologetically declares her pride in her Black heritage, while exploring the enduring impact of the twin sins of racism and white nationalism. Giovanni reaffirms her place as a uniquely vibrant and relevant American voice with poems such as "I Come from Athletes" and "Rainy Days"--calling out segregation and Donald Trump.
4. Layering joy and urgent defiance--against physical and cultural erasure, against white supremacy whether intangible or graven in stone--Trethewey's work gives pedestal and witness to unsung icons. Monument, Trethewey's first retrospective, draws together verse that delineates the stories of working class African American women, a mixed-race prostitute, one of the first black Civil War regiments, mestizo and mulatto figures in Casta paintings, Gulf coast victims of Katrina. Through the collection, inlaid and inextricable, winds the poet's own family history of trauma and loss, resilience and love.
5. Cleo Wade might be a younger poet, but like Amanda Gorman, she's a powerful one. If you are ready to be a part of building a society rooted in love, acceptance, justice, and equality, Where to Begin is the ultimate inspirational guide. Building on the wisdom of Cleo Wade's national bestseller Heart Talk, this heartfelt collection will help you stay connected to hope during difficult moments and remind you that no matter what, you still have the power to show up and effect positive change.