Contemporary Black Poets

This month, in the Entertainment, Literature, & Biography department of Central Library, we're highlighting contemporary black poets in honor of Black History Month. Terrance Hayes, Nikky Finney, and Marcus Wicker are just a few of the authors you'll find in the current poetry display.  

 Wicker's Silencer is striking, both visually and in content. A review by well-known author Roxanne Gay praises the book:

There is not a moment in this book when you are allowed to forget the complexities of a black man's life in America. These poems evoke so much--strength, beauty, passion, fear. There is the quiet, ironic pleasure of life on a cul-de-sac juxtaposed with the tensions of always wondering when a police officer's gun or fists might get in the way of the black body. The stylistic range of these poems, the wit, and the intelligence of them offers so much to be admired. There is nothing silent about Silencer.


Wicker talks about the influence that hip hop has on his writing: 

You'll also find a few books by the current poet laureate of the United States, Tracy K. Smith. Below is an excerpt from the poem Fire Escape Fantasy, published in her 2003 book of poetry, The Body's Question

A woman lifts her arm and brings it down.
Or a cop. This is obviously a question.
The child that cries out from below
Repeats the answer again and again: obedience.
This century was not designed to be felt. Still, I test
Like a girl determined to break herself apart. 

The Body's Question

Smith's themes are diverse: race, grief, loss, and science fiction have all been explored in her poems. 

Come in and check out our collection of poetry from contemporary black artists, and be sure not to miss one of the many Black History Month events offered by the Saint Louis Public Library. 

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