Black Poetry Day is celebrated on October 17 to recognize and remember the accomplishments of talented African American poets both past and present. All lovers of literature, writers, and poets, regardless of race, should definitely appreciate this holiday dedicated to creativity. This day also serves as a reminder of the historical heritage of African Americans and the experiences they reflected in their works.
The holiday was proposed in 1970 by folk musician Stanley A. Rems. However, it was officially established in 1985 to mark the birthday of Jupiter Hammon, one of the first African American poets. Hammon was born in 1711 a slave to the Lloyds, yet he was allowed to be educated. He took advantage of this opportunity to create poetry, publishing his first work at the age of 50. His poems about slavery were very popular, and he supported the need to encourage black writers, as they rarely received public support in comparison to their white counterparts.
On the occasion of the holiday, here are several talented African American poets to remember:
- Paul Dunbar was one of the first black poets to gain recognition in the United States, publishing several poems at the age of 14, the most famous of which is “Sympathy”.
- Langston Hughes is known as the father of jazz poetry and wrote “When Sue Wears Red” in high school.
- Gwendalyn Brooks won the first Pulitzer Prize for Annie Allen, which is a book of poetry about the life of an African American girl.
- Ellis Walker wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple, but Ellis also wrote poetry, addressing the experiences of black women.
- Maya Angelou is a contemporary writer who speaks about race, oppression, sex, and loss in her poetry, such as “On the Pulse of the Morning”, which she read at Bill Clinton’s inauguration ceremony.
How to take part
The best way to celebrate Black Poetry Day is to support African American poets. Consider purchasing a collection of poems from a black poet, sharing their work on social media, making a voluntary donation to a literary magazine, organizing a poetry reading, or attending a poetry event hosted by others.
When is Black Poetry Day Celebrated in 2023?
Black Poetry Day is devoted to celebrating cheerfulness and fun. It happens annually on October the 17th.