Celebrating and Supporting Black Poetry

Follow Anti-Racism Daily for More!

Anti-Racism Daily is a fantastic source of Black news, arts, history and joy, as well as a source of anti-racism resources, ways to take action, learn more and donate to great anti-racist, anti-oppressive and abolitionist causes--especially organizations led by Black folks. 

This week, the newsletter shared some poetry by James Baldwin, Phillis Wheatley and many other poets, highlighting the history of Black poetry in America and how Black poetry existed here before it was even founded as a nation. There are also some key takeaways and actions, including the link to donate to Youth Speaks and First Exposures. It's a great newsletter to follow, so be sure to subscribe.

What other great resources do you know of where we can take action, learn every day and show up to fight against white supremacy, especially with poetry? Share them in the chat. 

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Fighting Words And Other Workshops

What's happening near you?

National Poetry Month (and National Poetry Writing Month!) are both just around the corner and I'm already on the lookout for some great poetry workshops, classes and events. Finding something online or outside is optimal for my family and our community, and I would love to find a class about connecting poetry with social justice movements. I love the idea of this Fighting Words Workshop and hope it's held again!

I also love the idea of holding a collaborative class for teens who want to lead their own mini workshops to discuss poems they've read or written. This is one of the best ways to share poetry and meaning with one another, especially if you can make it interactive. Teens working together to create or act out works, create art projects with their words or coming up with song and dance performances are all great ways to do this.

What poetry classes or workshops have you run across so far this year? What's going on in your neighborhood? Share any opportunities you find or online educational events you see in the chat. 


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Reading Valentine's Poetry With Littles

Share your love of the written word!

With Valentine's Day just a few days away, it's time to start planning on how you're sharing your favorite sonnets, haikus and other lovely poetry with the young people in your life.

While we can share our love of poetry anytime, there's something about a Valentine's Day poetry reading, a cozy poetry teatime, an afternoon of writing poetry quotes on scraps of lace and heart-shaped paper. I still have quotes around my house ("Grow old with me! The best is yet to be," by Robert Browning and "i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)" by e.e. cummings, to name two off the top of my head!) from previous Valentine's Days!

It's easy to get crafty and get some snacks or treats ready. The real challenge lies within selecting the most engaging poems for youth. For younger kiddos, It's Valentine's Day! is a great choice. There are so many great picture books that rhyme or are poetic, too--one of our favorites is Little Night.

What Valentine's plans do you have involving your favorite poems and sharing them with the people you care about? Do you have any poetry you're writing or contests you plan on entering? Share the details in the chat! 

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Black Lives Matter Poetry Slam

What events are happening near you?

Lots of great literature and poetry events are popping up in honor of Black History Month. This Black Lives Matter Poetry Slam, scheduled for February 5 in Cambridge, MA, is going to offer up several hundred dollars to the winner as not only a fun competition but a fundraiser. Eight poets in all will be competing in this "40 Acres & A Slam: a night of rhythm, rhymes, and reparations."

Proceeds from the event will benefit the 40 Acres And a School Project to help build a Black Liberation epicenter in the area. This transformative justice center will be focused on restorative healing, providing housing for Black visionaries, transportation for artists and many other much-needed resources. You can donate to the project at the link.

What other artistic events are celebrating Black lives near you? Are there any other poetry events happening in particular? Share them in the chat. 

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Who Reads Poetry

What draws you to poetry?

If you're familiar with Poetry magazine, you may already know about their column "The View From Here." In it, the magazine publishes readers of the magazine and of poetry, in general, to share what draws them to poetry in the first place. Guests are not poets but people from all walks of life, from doctors to ironworkers to soldiers. Readers are often surprised by the voices and what they share, and in 2017's Who Reads Poetry, some of the most moving pieces were collected together.

This collection features lots of famous voices, from Neko Case to Roger Ebert, but it also dives deeply into how we connect as human beings from all different backgrounds, beliefs and value systems. No matter whose voice is sharing, the common factor is that rich love and appreciation for poetry, and it's a nice reminder of how much we really can relate to one another and be kindred souls.

Have you read this collection of essays? Which was your favorite and why? What really lures you to poetry, and what would you share if you included your own essay? Share your thoughts in the chat. 

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Troll Posts Into Poetry

Kate Baer Fights Back with Art

A mother of four is turning the ugly words people share across the Internet into poems with her new book, I Hope This Finds You Well. The bestselling poet has turned the hateful DMs that she's received into new poems, transforming critical words and harsh judgements about everything from looks to politics into something new.

By now readers might guess what format these poems are written in: erasure style! Each poem is comprised of troll mail as well as fan mail, and the author's intention with the technique is to inspire others to make something beautiful out of the ugliness in their lives. While I'm not sure how I feel about that, I do think it's great the author found a way to heal and maybe even get back at her trolls a bit.

What other books of unique poetry have you heard about lately? Share any cool poems or stories about poets in the chat. 

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Maya Angelou to Appear on U.S. Quarter

Are you excited to see the new coin?

After the controversy over putting Harriet Tubman on U.S. money, it's hard to decide whether or not it's an honor. Yes, we need more representation across the board, but on the symbol of capitalism that harms everyone--Black folks in particular--it may not seem as much of a place of reverence as, say, a statue or naming a school after someone. What are you thoughts regarding whether or not being placed on money is really an honor or not?

This question is important this week because the incredible Maya Angelou is about to appear on the U.S. quarter. It feels exciting to have the first Black woman on a coin, which is why folks are wrestling with this question this week. Some argue that it's simply a problem and not an honor, while others are saying that they've never been interested in coin collecting until this moment. As much as folks might want to see her lovely face rather than the faces of slave owners who didn't want to pay taxes, perhaps they'd like to address the many problems--problems that often feature capitalism as a root cause--first? 

What do you think of Angelou's face on the quarter? What other coins or bills would you like to see changed soon, and who do you think should be pictured on them? Do you think it's an honor to be on money? Share your thoughts and opinions in the chat. 

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Amanda Gorman Shares New Poem

Have you heard "New Day's Lyric"?

We recently discussed Amanda Gorman's new collection of poems, and now that the New Year is here, the poet has given us another new poem. It's called "New Day's Lyric" and she performed it in an empty theater in a partnership with Instagram. Gorman says she wrote the poem not only as a celebration of the New Year we're now living in, but to also honor the pain of the last year we've all endured.

The performance is available at the link and it's just as moving as one would expect a poem from the poet to be. In it, she recites, "Even if we never get back to normal, someday we can venture beyond it, to leave the known and take the first steps. So let us not return to what was normal, but reach toward what is next."

What's next. That really does sound hopeful. As the numbers rise higher in my community than they've been throughout the entire pandemic, that hope is hard to find. Without any government mandates where I live, it feels like life is even harder than it was a year ago, even with vaccines. We need people in our community to actually get them for them to work, and in the county adjacent to mine, over 20% of people or more are infected. In my own... well, my own cares more about naming highways after disgraced presidents and suing schools over mask mandates than anything else.

So I'm going to return to Gorman's words a lot as I try to stay home yet again. She gave me so much hope last year, and while some of what we'd wished for came true, so much else has not yet. I'm going to hold onto hope with Amanda Gorman. What's next. How about you? What poems are giving you hope right now?

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Call Us What We Carry

Amanda Gorman has a new collection!

Back when we fell in love with Amanda Gorman's "The Hill We Climb" on Inauguration Day, many of us wanted more of her words to mull over. The young poet's writing speaks to many Americans, her powerful words igniting so many hearts with hope and action. Today while we long for so much more action toward progress, health and stability, Gorman has gifted us with a collection of her works.

The collection, Call Us What We Carry, does feature that poem we fell in love with in January, and it contains many other moving works. The poems in the collection aren't all historically driven; some feature universal topics like grief and identity. But the book is essentially a "message in a bottle," says Gorman, and there are lots of poems in it about America, its history and its present.

Have you read Gorman's new book? Which poems speak to you and what about them is so memorable? Share your thoughts about the works in the chat. 

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Rest in Peace, Thomas Kinsella

Poet passes away at age 93

If you've ever studied the poems "The Táin" and "Butcher’s Dozen" in school, you already know about Thomas Kinsella. Ireland celebrates the famous poet as one of their best, but Kinsella is also known as a teacher who taught in the United States for many years. Since 1958, when his first major collection was published, Kinsella has made a household name for himself among the most descriptive and talented poets. 

"Buter's Dozen" was especially well-known because of its subject matter, which was Bloody Sunday. Kinsella was awarded the Freedom of the City of Dublin and the UCD Ulysses Medal, among many other accolades in his life.  Kinsella passed away in Dublin at age 93. He was preceded in death by his wife, Eleanor, who died in 2017. 

What was your favorite poem by Thomas Kinsella? Share your memories and favorite quotes by the poet in the chat. 

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