GWENDOLYN BROOKS &
poets had an influential impact on me in college & their work inspired me to
become a poet, teacher and writer.
corresponded with Gwendolyn Brooks when I was an undergraduate student at
Bensalem college (Fordham University) and while in a Master's program at Goddard college. She was
poet laureate of Illinois.
Novels, Stories, Plays,
Autobiographies, Poems, Songs, Blues, Pageant, Articles, Speeches by
First African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize (for
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
I, too, am America.
Langston Hughes, "I, Too" from The
Collected Works of Langston Hughes. Copyright © 2002 by Langston
Hughes. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates, Inc.
Langston Hughes is the poet laureate of African-American
experience — a popular writer of the Harlem Renaissance who gave hopeful
expression to the aspirations of the oppressed, even as he decried racism and
injustice. In addition to poetry, he published fiction, drama, autobiography,
and translations. His work continues to serve as a model of wide empathy and
More By This Poet
Langston Hughes' poem
"I Dream A World"
a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!
Born January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia,
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
is known as one of the most important figures of movements that centered the
rights of Black folks in America. A lesser known fact about Dr. King is that
he was friends with and deeply influenced by the poetry of
Similarly, Hughes wrote poetry about King’s work. Hughes’s influence on King
was so profound that traces of his poetry have been identified in some of
Dr. King’s most important speeches. Some poignant examples are King
referring to himself as the "victim of deferred dreams" in "A
Christmas Sermon for Peace,"
and affirming "Life for none of us has been a crystal stair" at Montgomery,
Street Baptist Church in
November 1956. Both derive from Hughes's poems, "Harlem"
is a news media platform that gives a fresh and meaningful perspective on the
Black news, culture, and art that matters to the African diaspora.
Perdomo to Judge
Cave Canem Poetry Prize
now open for the 2022 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, to be judged by Willie Perdomo.
The annual contest is dedicated to the discovery of first books by Black poets.
The winner receives $1,000, publication by University of Georgia Press in fall
2023, 15 copies of the book, and a feature reading. Both the winner and
runner-up will be invited to individual critique sessions with the final judge.
Black poets who have not had a full-length book of poetry published by a
professional press are encouraged to apply by January 31. The contest is free to
details and submission guidelines may be found here.
Willie Perdomo is
the author of Smoking Lovely: The Remix (Haymarket
Books, 2021), The Crazy Bunch (Penguin
Random House, 2019), The Essential Hits of
Shorty Bon Bon (Penguin Random House, 2014), and Where
a Nickel Costs of Dime (Norton, 1996). Winner of the Foundation for
Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly Award for Poetry, the New York City Book Award in
Poetry, and the PEN Open Book Award, Perdomo was also a finalist for the
National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Poetry Society of America Norma
Farber First Book Award. He is co-editor of the anthology, Latínext,
and his work has appeared in The New York
Times Magazine, Poetry, Washington
Post, The Best American Poetry 2019,
and African Voices. He is currently a
Lucas Arts Literary Fellow, a core faculty member at VONA/Voices of our Nation
Writing Workshop, and teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy.
The Cave Canem
Poetry Prize was initiated in 1999 with Rita Dove’s selection of Natasha
Trethewey’s Domestic Work.
Most recently, Rachel Eliza Griffiths selected Courtney
Faye Taylor as the winner of the
2021 Cave Canem Poetry Prize.
. Credit: Beata
Jess won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry
YOUTH POET LAUREATE
reads a poem
"The Hill We Climb"
at Joe Biden's Presidential inauguration.
HILL WE CLIMB
Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that's almost dead today.
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
You may write me down in
With your bitter,
You may trod me in the
still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with
’Cause I walk like
I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living
Just like moons and
With the certainty of
Just like hopes
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered
Shoulders falling down
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it
’Cause I laugh like
I’ve got gold mines
in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with
You may kill me with
still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a
That I dance like I’ve
meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s
rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean,
leaping and wide,
and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s
Bringing the gifts
that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the
hope of the slave.
From And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.
Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.
by Alwaz Carey
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