by Jourden V. Sander
As Black History Month closes, we at Feminine Inquiry wanted to pay tribute to all the wonderful authors and artists of color that are out there. I thought I would begin by highlighting a few excellent poets that are currently at work. And as a reminder, take this opportunity to expand your literary repertoire and read African American poets and authors not only this month, but all year long.
It only seems fair and just to dedicate this article to the recently deceased but forever remembered Maya Angelou:
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
Jumping just a bit forward to the present, I have recently enjoyed poetry by Thomas Sayers Ellis, “Sticks” being my favorite as of late. Lines like “Resisting the clockwise twisting,” “Beat down, their bodies slammed,” and “Interjections like flams. Wham! Bam!” make for witty, fast-paced poetry that is a pleasure to consume as a reader, with a sheath of skills to learn from as a writer.
The next poet on my list is Tracy K. Smith, and I can’t speak highly enough of her style and skill. There’s an aggressive yet subtle power to her form, as if there were more words and ideas hidden between each line. But don’t get me wrong, her poetry isn’t “abstract” or difficult to understand–at least, not line by line. It’s when you look at the bigger picture, piecing every stanza together, that really fills you with awe as you attempt to unpack the possible meanings to her poems. I really enjoyed “My God, It’s Full of Stars,” but given that it’s quite a long poem, I have only included the first section. If you’re a writer, I encourage you read it as this poem seems experimental or particularly modern in the sense that it has true numbered sections, different characters and topics, and a playful use of form. If you like the first section, continue reading it here on the Poetry foundation!
My God, It’s Full of Stars