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Clint Smith is a #1 New York Times bestselling author known for his powerful, poignant writing. His poetry collections Above Ground and Counting Descent tackle themes of parenthood, personal lineage, a changing world, racism, and police brutality. Smith’s poems are lyrical and moving, trying to make sense of difficult subjects most try to avoid. If you are a fan of Smith’s poetry, here are 11 more collections to check out.
Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
This poetry collection from award-winning poet Danez Smith opens with an imagining of the afterlife for black men shot by police. This place is free of violence and grief and instead filled with the safety and love those men were never given on Earth. Smith confronts, praises, and rebukes America through these poems.
Owed by Joshua Bennett
Owed focuses on repairing the relationship between ourselves and things that have hurt us, or things that seem insignificant. Bennett searches for a way to take the pain of the past and use it to light a better way forward.
I Am The Rage by Martina McGowan
Dr. Martina McGowan has experienced and advocates against social, racial, and sexual injustices. In this evocative poetry collection, she allows readers to truly empathize with what it means to be Black in today’s America. McGowan’s writing expresses her grief and rage over the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and the continued attacks against the Black community.
Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
Presidential inaugural poet and #1 New York Times bestselling author Amanda Gorman tackles a variety of topics from racism and gun violence to the pandemic and the grief that came with it. She explores history, language, identity, and erasure while creating a message of hope and healing.
Claim Tickets for Stolen People by Quintin Collins
Quintin Collins explores the resilience of Blackness in a colonized world, the toll of white violence, family life, and community. He expresses Black grief, Black anger, Black resistance, and the continued persistence of Black love.
And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou’s powerful, beautiful, and lyrical poetry truly shines in And Still I Rise. She encourages women of color everywhere to break past the barriers that society has set for them. Angelou’s inspirational and profound words send a message of hope and resilience in this unforgettable collection of poems.
Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
Claudia Rankine addresses the racial aggressions that occur everyday, whether they are in daily life or in the media. The way people are addressed is tied with their sense of belonging. Rankine’s poetry explores the expectations of citizenship and the effects of racism in modern society.
A Fortune for Your Disaster by Hanif Abdurraqib
A Fortune for Your Disaster tackles intimacy, loss, betrayal, loneliness, survival, and the trials of being an African American. Abdurraqib uses touchstones from the world outside to explore these topics with devastating, haunting, and soul-stirring poems.
Ain’t Never Not Been Black by Javon Johnson
Javon Johnson is critical and creative as he explores masculinity, racism, love, and joy. He writes about blackness and survival, and how the two are connected in America.
Mercy by Lucille Clifton
This poetry collection from award-winning poet Lucille Clifton grapples with changing times, family relationships, and racial prejudice. Clifton writes with sadness and anger, but remains empathetic as she expresses concern for America’s children and the division of society.
Father’s Day by Matthew Zapruder
Zapruder’s poems explore how to be a good father, partner, and citizen in the early twenty-first century. Using language and lyricism as his tools, he navigates these turbulent and uncertain times with humor, love, and moral urgency.
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