Loading

Distilled and Powerful Poetry by African American Women for BHM and Women's History Month @ MVCC Library

“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” —Rita Dove

From the collected works of established poets to award winning volumes by 21st Century voices, explore poetry by African American women available at the Library.

Need help requesting or accessing these books? Ask a Librarian!

Gwendolyn Brooks

The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks

"“If you wanted a poem,” wrote Gwendolyn Brooks, “you only had to look out of a window. There was material always, walking or running, fighting or screaming or singing.” From the life of Chicago’s South Side she made a forceful and passionate poetry that fused Modernist aesthetics with African-American cultural tradition, a poetry that registered the life of the streets and the upheavals of the 20th century... The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks traces the full arc of her career in all its ambitious scope and unexpected stylistic shifts." --Publisher's description

Natasha Trethewewy

Native Guard

"Through elegiac verse that honors her mother and tells of her own fraught childhood, Natasha Trethewey confronts the racial legacy of her native Deep South -- where one of the first black regiments, the Louisiana Native Guards, was called into service during the Civil War. Trethewey's resonant and beguiling collection is a haunting conversation between personal experience and national history." --Publisher's description

Audre Lorde

The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde

"The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde' celebrates the undeniable voice of a woman who wrote, in the words of Adrienne Rich, 'poems of elemental wildness and healing, nightmare and lucidity... a poetry which extends beyond white Western politics, beyond the anger and wisdom of Black America... These are poems which blaze and pulse on the page.'"--Back cover

Tracy K. Smith

Life on Mars

"With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel, Life on Mars imagines a soundtrack for the universe to accompany the discoveries, failures, and oddities of human existence... These poems reveal the realities of life lived here, on the ground, where a daughter is imprisoned in the basement by her own father, where celebrities and pop stars walk among us, and where the poet herself loses her father, one of the engineers who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. With this remarkable third collection, Smith establishes herself among the best poets of her generation." --Publisher's description

Rita Dove

Collected Poems 1974-2004

"Rita Dove’s Collected Poems 1974–2004 showcases the wide-ranging diversity that earned her a Pulitzer Prize, the position of U.S. poet laureate, a National Humanities Medal, and a National Medal of Art... With the “precise, singing lines” for which the Washington Post praised her, Dove “has created fresh configurations of the traditional and the experimental” (Poetry magazine)." --Publisher's description

Claudia Rankine

Citizen: An American Lyric

"Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seemingly slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV—everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society." --Publisher's description

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry

"Throughout her illustrious career in letters, Maya Angelou gifted, healed, and inspired the world with her words. Now the beauty and spirit of those words live on in this new and complete collection of poetry that reflects and honors the writer’s remarkable life." --Publisher's description

Robin Coste Lewis

Voyage of the Sable Venus

"Robin Coste Lewis’s electrifying collection is a triptych that begins and ends with lyric poems meditating on the roles desire and race play in the construction of the self...A new understanding of biography and the self, this collection questions just where, historically, do ideas about the black female figure truly begin—five hundred years ago, five thousand, or even longer? And what role did art play in this ancient, often heinous story? Here we meet a poet who adores her culture and the beauty to be found within it. Yet she is also a cultural critic alert to the nuances of race and desire—how they define us all, including her own sometimes painful history." --Publisher's description

June Jordan

"This definitive volume gathers work from June Jordan’s ten books of poetry and includes many never-before-published poems—including a tender, fierce, and innovative collection of poems written before her death in 2002... Alice Walker wrote of Jordan: “[She] makes us think of Akhmatova, of Neruda. She is among the bravest of us, the most outraged. She feels for all. She is the universal poet.”" --Publisher's description

Eve L. Ewing

Electric Arches

"Blending stark realism with the surreal and fantastic, Eve L. Ewing’s narrative takes us from the streets of 1990s Chicago to an unspecified future, deftly navigating the boundaries of space, time, and reality. Ewing imagines familiar figures in magical circumstances—blues legend Koko Taylor is a tall-tale hero; LeBron James travels through time and encounters his teenage self. She identifies everyday objects—hair moisturizer, a spiral notebook—as precious icons... Electric Arches invites fresh conversations about race, gender, the city, identity, and the joy and pain of growing up." --Publisher's description

Lucille Clifton

The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010

“The love readers feel for Lucille Clifton—both the woman and her poetry—is constant and deeply felt. The lines that surface most frequently in praise of her work and her person are moving declarations of racial pride, courage, steadfastness... The personal courage of the woman cannot be gainsaid, but it should not function as a substitute for [acknowledging Clifton’s] piercing insight and bracing intelligence.”—Toni Morrison, from the Foreword

Cover Photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash

Credits:

Created with an image by Bessi - "tree lake stars"