Poetry is spellbinding, and humanity has revered it for as long as we can remember. From the ancient times to now, poetry is the thread that wove itself through every generation. It is the food of love, the greatest expression and the carrier of epic tales and scripture.
And the most exciting part of poetry? The different voices you hear, the different perspectives you discover and the many different lives you live. Poetry is never limited to just one thing or one type of person.
Listed below are poets of color who have unique voices and fresh perspectives on the world and its many issues.
Waheed is an amazing writer who uses minimalism to convey messages of deep emotion and important issues. Her poetry may look familiar, as it has been alleged that Tumblr-famous poet Rupi Kaur may have plagiarized Waheed’s work. But controversy aside, Nayyirah Waheed is a brilliant writer with beautiful messages to share with the world. Her style of no capitalization is strangely refreshing.
Her two published collections, salt and nejma have garnered a lot of critical acclaim, with many praising Waheed’s talent of being able to convey resonating messages in such a minimalistic way.
From her poetry collection, salt:
i lost a whole continent.
a whole continent from my memory.
unlike all other hyphenated Americans
my hyphen is made of blood. feces. bone.
when africa says hello
my mouth is a heartbreak.
because i have nothing in my tongue
to answer her.
i do not know how to say hello to my mother.
–african american ii
Lebo Mashile is a South African born poet who is well known for her social commentary poems. Her poems are lyrical and gutsy, forcing you to confront issues that are usually sidelined. Her passion for social justice is evident in her brilliant and fearless poems.
An excerpt from her poem, Insider Outsider:
…I will wander the earth
In search of my tribe
Or build it from the shreds of boxes
With my own hands
Tran’s poems are bluntly powerful. They cross the boundaries of race, gender and they challenge tradition. Tran’s work highlights their Vietnamese identity, allowing for a fresh perspective in place of the old, tired narrative. Their poems on sexual assault are both enlightening and gut wrenching.
From their poem, I Want:
…I know it isn’t him but his kindness
that hurts me to the point of death
I WANT TO SAY IT PLAIN. I don’t know
how else to explain what happened
except to— SAY IT, SAY IT
the only way I can
Porsha O. has described herself as a “hip-hop feminist,” and she truly is amazing. Her spoken-word poems tackle issues of racism, sexism and capitalism, and she dismantles these issues in the most beautiful way possible.
No single quote can do her work justice, so check out her spoken word poem, Water.
Jamal Parker’s work is absolutely breathtaking. His poems range from pieces about love and warm feelings to poems that will hit you in the gut, rip your heart out and leave you gasping for air. Some of his poems are influenced by his unique background — he spent a part of his childhood in Japan, and it shows in his unique writing style.
From his poem, Reading:
Sometimes I think of my birthplace
And acknowledge its lingering death sentence
in Reading my feet become cautious of the
each step is another name ground to dust
There are so many great poets out there. Therefore, this list was incredibly difficult to compile.
Poetry can tie the world together, so never limit your reading. Diversity in anything, especially literature, can teach you to appreciate the lives that others have lived.