• Written By Gabrielle O'Brien

10 African-American Female Poets

Poetry, the letters and words able to move us and help us feel again. The deepest form of human expression to which most people can relate to both emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. In the present-day many artists and writers use poetry as a means to make their voices heard and their struggles know to the world. Poetry has given them a voice. More than ever the insight of undervalued minorities matter and these Black female poets are changing the game allowing real change to develop through their stories and poems.




10. Safia Elhillo

African-American female poet Safia Elhillo lays on a peach sofa in front of a vintage arabic movie poster.

The Folklore

Safia Elhillo is a spoken word poet who is Sundanese-American. She studied at the New York University where she received a BA. She has written three poetry books with a corresponding theme of identity, family, Immigration and heartbreak. Her work has received a lot of attention leading her to win the Brunel University African Poetry Prize and much more. Her work has appeared in many publications and anthologies. Now, present-day she travels to perform spoken word pieces and shares her work on TEDxNewYork collaborative space.




9. Aja Monet

African-American female poet Aja Monet speaks poetry on stage with her arm raised

Music Mayhem Magazine

Aja Monet Bacquie is a Cuban-Jamaican contemporary poet. She is also a writer, lyricist and activist situated in New York. She is the youngest poet to become the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam champion when she was 19. She has been nominated for the NAACP Image Award and many others. She has written and published two books and continues to write as an avid activist. Her most recent activist work includes participating in the “Say Her Name” campaign, a movement against police brutality towards Black women.

8. Rita Dove

African-American Female Poet Rita Dove stands over a balcony in front of a peach painted wall

American Poetry Review

Rita Dove is another famous poet who was also granted the position of Poet Laureate Consultant from 1993 to 1995 for the library of congress. For the Black community, this was a significant impact because she was the first African American appointed this honour and the youngest since 1986 when its position was created by congress. She has received many awards for her work but nothing more notable than her piece On The Bus With Rosa Parks winning the Pulitzer prize in 1999. She uses her poetry to write about civil rights movements, forgotten and undervalued Black figures, historical events, conformity struggles and her grandparent’s past.




7. Nicole Sealey

African-American female poet Nicole Sealey stands in font of a door number and a mosaic.

Brooklyn Magazine

Nicole Seally was an African Studies student from the University of South Florida. Using her knowledge she has produced many poems and books surrounding this topic. She has gained an MFA in creative writing from New York University and from there published her book Ordinary Beast in 2017. This book was one of the many books to be recognized for various awards such as the 2019 Rome Prize, Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, Poetry International Prize and many more. Nicole is currently at Cave Canem as the executive director and continues to write.




6. Morgan Parker

African-American female poet Morgan Parker stands in smiling in a patterned headscarf and dress in front of leaf wallpaper

OurBKsocial

Morgan Parker is another celebrated poet reshaping the view of Black women today. As a novelist and editor, she has written and published various written pieces but the most popular being Magical Negro published in 2019. This book explores the many ideals of Black American womanhood. This book won the National Book Critics Circle Award and many others. She has gone on to receive three other major awards. Morgan Parker’s career consists of many endeavours such as an editor for amazon publishing, creative writing at Columbia University, member of the Black Girl Collective and many other pursuits aiding in Black empowerment.




5. Tracy K. Smith

African-American female poet Tracy K. Smith sits on an orange chair smiling at the camera in navy blue

Vogue

Both an American poet and educator Tracy. K. Smith uses her gift of writing to challenge to norms of humanity. She has published four collections of poetry winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. From 2017 to 2019 she served as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the united states which is when a poet is formally appointed by a government to write for official events. In 2018 she started a podcast called “The Slowdown” where she frequently talks about poetry’s place in society and how it can be used to change the world.




4. Arielle Estoria

African-American female poet Arielle Estoria smiles in an orange sweater with matching earrings and in front of a turquoise floral background

Dazey LA

Both a speaker and spoken word poet, Arielle Estoria writes about self-love and healing as a Black woman. Her first co-authored book was released in 2014 later publishing another book in 2017. Readers can find her most notable work all over social media. She has a distinct style of writing combining her love for art and design alongside her poems.




3. Morgan Harper Nichols

American-American female poet Morgan Harper Nichols sits with her legs crossed in front of a library

White Sugar Brown sugar

Morgan Harper Nichols is a present-day Christian musician, songwriter, artist and poet. She writes to uplift spiritually and breaks the barriers of conformity through writing. She frequently travels to perform and speak about her work. Her work has notably grown and gained a following through platforms like Instagram and Pinterest where she frequently shares her poems about faith.




2. Gwendolyn Brooks

A black and white photograph of African-American female poet Gwendolyn Brooks with her typewriter in front of a library

Poetry Foundation

Gwendolyn Brooks was not only a poet but a teacher as well. She used a lot of her work to teach and educate people about the struggles residing in the Black community. On May 1st, 1950 she was the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize. As she progressed in her work she went on to win numerous awards. Her work achieved many titles. She became the first African American woman inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters bridging the gap for other minorities to follow in her footsteps and let their voices be heard.




1. Maya Angelou

Portrait of African-American female poet Maya Angelou wearing a black dress in front of a black background

Deadline

Maya Angelou is one of the most renowned Black poets history has ever seen and one that first comes to mind when readers think about a Black African American poet. As a civil rights activist, many of her poems reflected the deep agony and heroic stories of various Black women and men in America. She used her gift to produce 167 poetry books along with several essays, autobiographies and plays surrounding Black culture. Among her many famous poems, her most notable poem is I know why the caged bird sings depicting the life and dream of freedom for Black African Americans.


Hi, my name is Gabrielle Madison a Canadian poet, writer and fashion enthusiast. I write to inspire and express my many thoughts and life experiences as a Black woman through poetry and writing.


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