As Langston Hughes pointed out in his famous essay “200 Years of American Negro Poetry,” “Poets and versifiers of African descent have been publishing poetry on American shores since the year 1746 when a slave woman named Lucy Terry penned a rhymed description of an Indian attack on the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts.”
He went on to write, “art is to be an intensification or enlargement of life, or to give adequate comment on what living is like in the poet’s own time.” Here are ten poets, from Gwendolyn Brooks and Hughes himself, to contemporary writers like Kevin Young and Tyehimba Jess, who intensify life with every line:
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JSTOR is a digital library for scholars, researchers, and students. JSTOR Daily readers can access the original research behind our articles for free on JSTOR.200 Years of American Negro Poetry By: Langston Hughes Transition, No. 75/76, The Anniversary Issue: Selections from Transition, 1961-1976 (1997), pp. 90-96 Indiana University Press on behalf of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University Ode By: Elizabeth Alexander Black American Literature Forum, Vol. 23, No. 3, Poetry Issue (Autumn, 1989), p. 495 African American Review (St. Louis University) Women Writers' Workshop By: Tara Betts Women's Studies Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 3/4, Women, Crime, and the Criminal Justice System (Fall - Winter, 2004), pp. 285-287 The Feminist Press at the City University of New York Old Mary By: Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry, Vol. 94, No. 6 (Sep., 1959), p. 373 Poetry Foundation Peach Picking By: Kwame Dawes The Georgia Review, Vol. 59, No. 1 (SPRING 2005), p. 49 Georgia Review The First Book By: Rita Dove Callaloo, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Summer, 2008), p. 753 The Johns Hopkins University Press After Birth By: Camille T. Dungy Callaloo, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Summer, 2011), p. 788 The Johns Hopkins University Press Do any black children grow up casual? By: Harmony Holiday Poetry, Vol. 203, No. 2 (NOVEMBER 2013), p. 157 Poetry Foundation Blues on a Box By: Langston Hughes Poetry, Vol. 69, No. 5 (Feb., 1947), pp. 248-249 Poetry Foundation Blind Boone's Pianola Blues By: Tyehimba Jess BOMB, No. 133 (Fall 2015), p. 77 New Art Publications I Hope It Rains at My Funeral By: Kevin Young Harvard Review, No. 35 (2008), pp. 158-159 Harvard Review