The Best *100 African American Poems (*But I Cheated)

The poets span generations, from Sterling A. Brown, Robert Hayden, Langston Hughes to Marilyn Nelson, Tupac Shakur, and Tony Medina. Some poems took me back to my days at NC A&T: Dudley Randall’s “Ballad of Birmingham” and Mari Evans’ “I Am a Black Woman,” for example. There were poets I’ve had the pleasure of hearing read because they are connected to Virginia in some way: Tim Seibles, Kwame Alexander, or Natasha Trethewey (She was just visiting Chesapeake.).

I like the CD that accompanies the book. I heard poems read by Gwendolyn Brooks, Sonia Sanchez, Marilyn Nelson, Nikki Giovanni, and Robert Hayden. I particularly liked hearing Hayden’s reading alongside another reader’s rendition of the same poem. Some of the readings are grand performances and the clapping from the audience made me feel I was there instead of in my bathroom rolling my hair or brushing my teeth.

Of course there are more than 100 poems in the book, but I doubt anyone would complain.

The book ends with Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping (There May Be a Reason Why)” which I thought was apt.

*Is your favorite poet/poem missing from this book? I believe one of mine is: Maya Angelou