Poets for Liberation

a syllabus of suggested readings for writers for liberation
1. Langston Hughes - The Weary Blues

- Hughes addresses racial injustice, hope, and resilience in the face of systemic oppression.

2. Audre Lorde - The Black Unicorn

- Lorde's poetry celebrates Black womanhood, explores intersectionality, and calls for liberation.

3. Maya Angelou - And Still I Rise

- Angelou's poems powerfully convey themes of survival, strength, and collective Black liberation.

4. Claudia Rankine - Citizen: An American Lyric

- Rankine's blend of poetry and prose examines racial microaggressions and societal racism.

5. Nikki Giovanni - Black Feeling, Black Talk

- Giovanni’s early poetry collection captures the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement and the quest for Black liberation.

6. Amiri Baraka - Transbluesency

- Baraka's poems reflect his radical activism, focusing on Black liberation and social justice.

7. Gwendolyn Brooks - Selected Poems

- Brooks's poetry speaks to African American experiences, highlighting themes of resistance and identity.

8. Joy Harjo - Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings

- Harjo, the first Native American Poet Laureate, explores themes of cultural preservation, resilience, and spiritual liberation.

9. Lucille Clifton - Blessing the Boats

- Clifton’s poems address African American history, personal trauma, and the strength found in overcoming adversity.

10. June Jordan - Directed by Desire

- Jordan’s poetry is both personal and political, tackling issues of race, gender, and liberation.

11. Warsan Shire - Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth

- Shire’s poems reflect the refugee experience, exploring themes of displacement, oppression, and liberation.

12. Alice Walker - Hard Times Require Furious Dancing

- Walker’s poetry blends personal reflections with calls for social and spiritual liberation.

13. Sherman Alexie - The Business of Fancydancing

- Alexie’s poetry addresses Native American identity, cultural conflict, and the quest for personal freedom.

14. Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman- The Summoning of Black Joy

- Ali-Coleman's poetry, written before and during COVID-19 quarantine, addresses the plight of Black people in America--past and present-- while signaling a call for a liberated future.

15. Ocean Vuong - Night Sky with Exit Wounds

- Vuong’s poetry navigates the intersections of war, migration, and identity, seeking liberation through personal and collective memory.

16. Naomi Shihab Nye - 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East

- Nye’s poems highlight the Palestinian experience, advocating for peace and cultural liberation.

17. Martín Espada - The Republic of Poetry

- Espada’s work focuses on Latin American history, social justice, and the power of poetic activism.

18. Morgan Parker - There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé

- Parker’s modern, witty poetry addresses Black womanhood, cultural identity, and liberation.

19. Tracy K. Smith - Wade in the Water

- Smith’s poems engage with American history, slavery, and the ongoing quest for racial justice and liberation.

20. Danez Smith - Don't Call Us Dead

- Smith’s powerful collection addresses police violence, Black queerness, and the struggle for life and liberation.

These poets use their craft to illuminate the struggles and aspirations of marginalized communities. Their works serve as powerful tools for resistance, healing, and envisioning a liberated world. While all of the poets listed above are not all Black poets, most of them are. Poets who are included who are not Black poets are recognized for their allyship and solidarity in the struggle for peace and social justice.