There are many ways to measure the value of a poet. One important way is by how much their work speaks to a larger audience and how much it continues to speak long after it was written. The African American poet has been speaking in many voices for over 350 years, but especially during the last century, when there has been an explosion of literary talent among this group. In fact, some would argue that there has never been a group of poets with as much literary impact and popularity as today’s generation of African American poets. These poets are known for their usage of rhythm and imagery, their use of double-meaning and wordplay as well as their ability to write about social issues in ways that have not only challenged but also changed the world around us in all kinds of positive ways. If you want to read more about these poets and learn more about them – keep reading!
Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston was an author who wrote about the South as well as about African American culture. Her writings are considered to be part of the Harlem Renaissance movement and her best known works include the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God and the short story “Sweat,” which is about the lives of African Americans working in a turpentine camp. Zora Neale Hurston was born in 1901 in Notasulga, Alabama. Her parents were both teachers and she was expected to follow in their footsteps. After high school, she enrolled in Howard University and majored in Anthropology. There she met and studied under some of the most famous African American scholars of the time, such as Alain Locke and W. E. B. Dubois. It was at Howard that she began to write poetry in addition to her studies of anthropology. She received her master’s degree in Anthropology in 1928 and her Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1942.
Langston Hughes was a poet and author who wrote about the life and history of African Americans. He was a contributor to the Harlem Renaissance, and he received recognition for both his poetry and his novels. His works include the poem “Dreams” and the book The Big Sea. Hughes was born in 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. He was the son of two former slaves, and he was raised primarily by his grandmother. After high school, Hughes attended Columbia University, but he left after two years to travel around the world. He returned to New York in 1925, where he began to focus his writing on the life and history of African Americans. He became a part of the Harlem Renaissance, and his writings focused on themes of racial oppression, poverty, and the lives of African Americans. In the 1930s, he began to write poetry as well as fiction. He received many awards and honors for his writings, and he was also a part of the Congress of Racial Equality, helping to organize the March on Washington in 1963.
Maya Angelou was a poet and an author as well as an actress and filmmaker. She was a contemporary of the Harlem Renaissance, and she was well known for her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which details her childhood and her experiences of overcoming many challenges. Her other well-known works include Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie and Phenomenal Woman: Poems and Composition. Angelou was born in 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, and she grew up in a household affected by poverty and racism. Her experiences of racial discrimination helped to inspire her writings and her poetry. She received many awards for her works, including a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she was also the first African American woman to earn a Pulitzer Prize.
Countee Cullen was a poet and an editor as well as a professor. He was born in 1903 in New York City and he received his bachelor’s degree in English from Cornell University in 1925. He went on to study at Harvard University, where he received his master’s degree in English. He taught English at various universities during his career. Cullen wrote about themes of racial injustice, love and marriage, and religion. His most widely known work, The Blacker the Berry, was published in 1934 and was written in reaction to the St. Louis riots. The poem was controversial for its criticism of the African American community during this time period.
Etheridge Knight was a poet who wrote about his experiences as an African American living in poverty. He wrote about issues such as racial discrimination, police brutality, and poverty. He was one of the founders of the Black Arts Movement, a cultural and literary movement created by African American writers and artists. Knight was born in 1931. He moved to Los Angeles, California in his early twenties and he began to write poetry and publish his works in literary magazines and anthologies. He taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, and he received many awards and honors for his poetry.
Sonia Sanchez is a poet and author who is famous for her powerful writings about race and gender. She is known as one of the main representatives of the Black Arts Movement, and she was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. Sanchez was born in 1930 in New York City, and she grew up during the Great Depression. Her family was poor, but her parents encouraged her to pursue her dreams and aspirations. Sanchez began to publish her writing after moving to Chicago in 1955. She is known for her use of rhythm and imagery in her poems, as well as her use of double-meaning and wordplay. She has received many awards for her works, and she has also written several books of poetry and essays.
These poets have all been recognized as important contributors to American poetry, but what makes them great is how each of them has used the power of poetry to create social change, to challenge people to think beyond the status quo and to break down barriers of all kinds. Poetry is a very special kind of writing that can change the way people think and feel, and it can also change the way they live their lives.