Black Poetry Day: October 17th

October 17th is Black Poetry Day. In honor of this day, this month’s blog post focuses on materials by and about black poets in the S-Collection. In 1760 Jupiter Hammon became the first published African-American poet. Black Poetry Day is celebrated on October 17th in honor of the anniversary of Hammon’s birth in 1711. Lessons on Black Poetry Day can include historical events such as the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement. A few of the books listed below also combine poetry with examination of artwork, such as Nikki Giovanni’s Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy… , Belinda Rochelle’sWords With Wings… and Ntozake Shange’s We Troubled the Waters: Poems.

To find more poems by black authors, do an advanced search in the online catalog using the subject “juvenile” as one of your search terms, combined with any of the following phrases as subjects:
African Americans — Poetry.
American poetry — African-American authors.
American poetry — African American authors — Collections.
African Americans — Juvenile poetry.

For biographies about black poets do a search in the online catalog using the following phrase as a subject:
African American poets — Biography — Juvenile literature.

You can also search for books by the following black poets: Maya Angelou, Jeffrey Barton, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sterling A. Brown, Lucille Clifton, Toi Derricotte, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Nikki Giovanni, Eloise Greenfield, Nikki Grimes, Angelina W. Grimke, Jupiter Hammon, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Ntozake Shange, Anne Spencer, Joyce Carol Thomas, Flora Todd, Natasha Trethewey, Margaret Walker, Chad Wendell, Phillis Wheatley, and Jacqueline Woodson.

Poetry by and about Black Poets

Adedjouma, Davida.
The Palm of My Heart: Poetry by African American Children. 1996.
A collection of poems written by African American children celebrating what it means to be Black.
[Education Storage S.811.08 P18]

Altman, Susan and Susan Lechner.
Followers of the North Star: Rhymes about African American Heroes, Heroines, and Historical Times. 1993.
A collection of poems about some of the historical experiences of African Americans and about such prominent people as Benjamin Banneker, Matthew Henson, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Leontyne Price.
[Education Storage Q. S.811 AL79F]

Brooks, Gwendolyn.
Bronzeville Boys and Girls. 2007.
This newly illustrated edition collects poems that celebrate the joy, beauty, imagination, and freedom of childhood.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 B791b]

Bryan, Ashley.
Ashley Bryan’s ABC of African-American Poetry. 1997.
Each letter of the alphabet is represented by a line from a poem by different African American poets, describing an aspect of the black experience.
[Education S Collection Q. SE. B382a]

Dawes, Kwame.
I Saw Your Face. 2005.
A poem and portraits of children illustrate the shared beauty and heritage of people of African descent living throughout the world.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 D321i]

English, Karen.
Speak to Me: (and I Will Listen Between the Lines). 2004.
Describes events of one day at a San Francisco Bay Area school as perceived by different second-graders, from the observations of the first to arrive on the playground to the walk home.
[Education Storage SE. En365s]

Giovanni, Nikki (ed).
Hip Hop Speaks to Children: a Celebration of Poetry with a Beat. 2008.
More than 50 poems and an accompanying CD introduce poetry with a beat. Includes poems by Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jacqueline Woodson, Eloise Greenfield, Walter Dean Myers, Tupac Shakur, and many others.
[Education S Collection S.811 H611]

Giovanni, Nikki (ed).
Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy like My Sister Kate: Looking at the Harlem Renaissance Through poems. 1996.
Includes poems by such authors as Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Amiri Baraka, with commentary and a discussion of the development of African American arts known as the Harlem Renaissance.
[Uni High, Center for Children’s Books 811.08 SH62]

Giovanni, Nikki.
Spin a Soft Black Song: Poems for Children. 1985.
A poetry collection which recounts the feelings of Black children about their neighborhoods, American society, and themselves.
[Education Storage S.811 G439S1985]

Greenfield, Eloise.
Angels. 1998.
A collection of poems which show angels guiding, comforting, and protecting Afro-American children during milestones in their lives as well as in the course of everyday activities.
[Education Storage S.811 G837a]

Grimes, Nikki.
When Gorilla Goes Walking. 2007.
In this collection of rhyming poems, Gorilla the cat enjoys answering the telephone, eating soul food, and sharing mischievous adventures with her young owner.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 G882wh]

Hughes, Langston.
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems. 2007.
A collection of sixty-six poems, selected by the author for young readers, including lyrical poems, songs, and blues, many exploring the black experience.
[Education S Collection S.811 H874d2007]

Hughes, Langston.
The Negro Speaks of Rivers. 2009.
The famous poem, taken from the collected poems of Langston Hughes, illustrated with watercolors.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 H8745n]

Lewis, J. Patrick.
Freedom like Sunlight: Praisesongs for Black Americans. 2000.
Presents poems and brief biographical notes about such well-known African Americans as: Arthur Ashe, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Louis Armstrong, Martin Luther King, Jr., “Satchel” Paige, Rosa Parks, Langston Hughes, Jesse Owens, Marian Anderson, Malcolm X, Wilma Rudolph, and Billie Holiday.
[Education Storage Q. S.811 L587f]

Medina, Tony.
DeShawn Days. 2001.
The author draws from his own experiences growing up in the projects to create the story of DeShawn Williams, his grandmother who helps him with his homework, and his cousin Tiffany, who shares in his laughter and adventures.
[Education S Collection S.811 M468d]

Muse, Daphne (compiler).
The Entrance Place of Wonders: Poems of the Harlem Renaissance. 2006.
Includes an introduction to the Harlem Renaissance (1917-1935) and brief biographies of the poets.
[Education S Collection S.811 En85]

Myers, Walter Dean.
Here in Harlem: Poems in Many Voices. 2004.
Acclaimed writer Walter Dean Myers celebrates the people of Harlem with these powerful and soulful first-person poems in the voices of the residents who make up the legendary neighborhood: basketball players, teachers, mail carriers, jazz artists, maids, veterans, nannies, students, and more. Exhilarating and electric, these poems capture the energy and resilience of a neighborhood and a people.
[Education S Collection S.811 M992h]

Newton, Vanessa.
Let Freedom Sing. 2009.
Simple poetry pays tribute to African Americans who struggled for civil rights.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 N488l]

Okutoro, Lydia Omolala.
Quiet Storm: Voices of Young Black Poets. 2002.
This stunning poetry collection encourages readers from all cultures to explore the many threads of their own ancestral roots. Marker poems by well-known poets, such as Langston Hughes, introduce each themed section of the book.
[Education Storage S.811.08 Q4]

Rochelle, Belinda (compiler).
Words with Wings: a Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art. 2001.
Pairs twenty works of art by African-American artists with twenty poems by twenty African-American poets.
[Education Storage Q. S.811.08 W891]

Shange, Ntozake.
We Troubled the Waters: Poems. 2009.
Poetry and paintings in tribute to the many individuals who acted with courage for justice and change during the civil rights movement.
[Education S Collection S.811 Sh182w]

Thomas, Joyce Carol.
Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea: Poems. 1993
This book includes a dozen lyrical poems exploring issues of African-American identity through delicately interwoven images.
[Education Storage Q. S.811 T364br]

African American Children’s Writers

In honor of Black History Month, the S-Collection presents selected books by notable African American authors. In the U.S., early children’s literature often presented stereotypes of African Americans in books written by white authors. By the mid-20th century, a growing number of African American writers sought to present positive images of Black life and culture. African American authors can offer insight into the Black experience in ways writers of other races can not, as African American author Jacqueline Woodson writes, “I realized that no one but me can tell my story.”*

*Woodson, J. (1998). Who Can Tell My Story [white authors writing about people of color]. The Horn Book Magazine, 74, 34-38.

African American Authors and Selected Works
Curtis, Christopher Paul

Bud, Not Buddy. 1999.
Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father–the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids. A Newberry Medal Winner.
[Education S Collection: S.C941b]

The Watsons Go to Birmingham. 1995.
The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963.
[Education S Collection: S. C941W]

Visit the publisher’s website for Christopher Paul Curtis.
Hamilton, Virginia (1936-2002)

Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush. 1982.
Fourteen-year-old Tree, resentful of her working mother who leaves her in charge of a retarded younger brother, encounters the ghost of her dead uncle and comes to a deeper understanding of her family’s problems. This book won numerous awards including a Newbery Honor Medal.
[Education S Collection: S. H18S]

Zeely. 1967.
Geeder’s summer at her uncle’s farm is made special because of her friendship with a very tall, composed woman who raises hogs and who closely resembles the magazine photograph of a Watutsi queen.
[Education Storage: S. H18Z1986]

Visit Virginia Hamilton’s Website (This site is not actively updated).
Lester, Julius

Ackamarackus: Julius Lester’s Sumptuously Silly Fantastically Funny Fables. 2001.
A collection of six original fables with morals both silly and serious.
[Education S Collection: Q.S.398.2 L567a]

Black Cowboy, Wild Horses: a True Story. 1998.
A black cowboy is so in tune with wild mustangs that they accept him into the herd, thus enabling him singlehandedly to take them to the corral.
[Education Storage: Q. SE. L5674b]

Sam and the Tigers: a New Telling of Little Black Sambo. 1996.
Follows the adventures of a little boy named Sam when he matches wits with several tigers that want to eat him.
[Education Storage: SE. L5674S]

Visit Julius Lester’s Website
McKissack, Patricia

Black Hands, White Sails: the Story of African-American Whalers.1999.
A history of African-American whalers between 1730 and 1880, describing their contributions to the whaling industry and their role in the abolitionist movement.
[Education Storage: S.639.28 M217b]

The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural. 1992.
A collection of ghost stories with African American themes, designed to be told during the Dark Thirty–the half hour before sunset–when ghosts seem all too believable.
[Education S Collection: S. M217D]

Mirandy and Brother Wind. 1988.
To win first prize in the Junior Cakewalk, Mirandy tries to capture the wind for her partner. Caldecott honor book.
[Education Storage: Q.SE. M217M]

Learn more about Patricia McKissack
Myers, Walter Dean

Shooter. 2004.
Written in the form of interviews, reports, and journal entries, the story of three troubled teenagers ends in a tragic school shooting.
[Education S Collection: S.M992s]

145th Street : Short Stories. 2000.
Ten stories portray life on a block in Harlem.
[Education S Collection: S.M992o]

Visit Walter Dean Myers’s Website
Ringgold, Faith

Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad In The Sky. 1992.
With Harriet Tubman as her guide, Cassie retraces the steps escaping slaves took on the Underground Railroad in order to reunite with her younger brother.
[Education S Collection: Q.SE. R473A]

Dinner at Aunt Connies’s House. 1993.
Dinner at Aunt Connie’s is even more special than usual when Melody meets not only her new adopted cousin but twelve inspiring African-American women, who step out of their portraits and join the family for dinner.
[Education S Collection: SE. R473D]

Tar Beach. 1991.
A young girl dreams of flying above her Harlem home, claiming all she sees for herself and her family. Based on the author’s quilt painting of the same name, this is a Caldecott Honor Book.
[Education S Collection: Q.SE. R473T)

Visit Faith Ringgold’s Website
Taylor, Mildred D.

The Road to Memphis. 1990.
Sadistically teased by two white boys in 1940s rural Mississippi, a black youth severely injures one of the boys with a tire iron and enlists Cassie’s help in trying to flee the state. This is part 3 of the Logan Family series.
[Education Storage: S. T216RO]

The Well: David’s Story. 1995.
In Mississippi in the early 1900s ten-year-old David Logan’s family generously shares their well water with both white and black neighbors in an atmosphere of potential racial violence.
[Education S Collection: S.T216w 1998]

Visit Penguin Publisher’s website on Mildred Taylor.
Looking for more information on African-American authors and their books? Try these sources:

Many Peoples, One Land: a Guide to New Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. 2001.
[Education Juvenile Reference [non-circulating]: S.016.8108H366m]

Black Authors and Illustrators of Books for Children and Young Adults. (4th ed.), 2007.
[Education Juvenile Reference [non-circulating]: S.011.62R658b2007]

The All-White World of Children’s Books and African American Children’s Literature. 1995.
[Main Stacks: 810.9 AL58]

The Coretta Scott King Awards, 1970-2004. (3rd ed.), 2004.
[Education Juvenile Reference [non-circulating]: S.016.8108 C812]