A Nationwide
Celebration of 250 Years of African American Poetry

Presented by Library of America, in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Own the Book

Presented by Library of America, in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Kevin
Young

About the Author

Author of 11 books and editor of eight others, Kevin Young has been a winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as a finalist for the National Book Award. Young has held positions as a professor at Emory University and curator of Emory's Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, as well as Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library.

Feature Poets

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
Explore Timeline

Gwendolyn Brooks

Worked as an assistant to E.N. French—a self-professed medium who operated out of an office in Chicago’s famed Mecca Building

Read More

Sterling A. Brown

"Low mounds have swollen in the fenced off corner,
Over brown children, marked by white-washed stones{...}”

From “Virginia Portrait"
Read More

Lucille Clifton

“the girl is rising in me [. . .] she is asking for more than
most men are able to give,
but she means to have what she has earned,
sweet sighs, safe houses,
hands she can trust.

From “to my friend, Jerina"
Read More

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Met Frederick Douglass, who quickly became Dunbar’s mentor and employer, during the Chicago World’s Fair (World’s Columbian Exposition) in 1893.

Read More

Frances E.W. Harper

Became the first African American woman to publish a short story—the feminist-themed tale “The Two Offers” (1859)

Read More

Michael S. Harper

“Blossoms in a peanut field
won’t bring me home;
something in the hum
of cotton is a glue
that won’t hold red soil still;
ten million voices spliced
on an iron cross
between the world, and me,
and you."

From “The Meaning of Protest”
Read More

Allison C. Rollins

“i curse the phantom belly-
moon, can still hear the
sound of you in still water.
the wind begins to push
a heavy rain, drops spill from
every crevice of the flower.
pouring, the rain always all ways
asks for forgiveness.
a ghost kneels in me,
asks to be spared

From “original [sin]”
Read More

Nikki Giovanni

Was a co-host on the PBS variety showSoul!, which aired from 1968to 1973.Interviewed Muhammad Ali, Lena Horne, and James Baldwin.

Read More

Claude McKay

“De early days pass quickly ‘long,
Soon I became a man,
An’ one day foundmyself among
Strange folks in a strange lan’.
My little joys, my wholesome min’,
Deybullied out o’ me,
And made me daily mournan’ pine
An’ wish dat I was free.”

From “My Mountain Home”
Read More

Aja Monet

"years of a sun loving us, solitude is
in the wrist of a magnolia tree, hung or lynched
in a rose-throated croon of liberty and justice for all [. . .]"

From “We Are”
Read More

Jamila Woods

"I want to hold a poem in my fist in the alley just in case.
I want a poem for dude at the bus stop. Oh you can’t talk
ma?
Words to make the body inside my body less invisible."

From "Blk Girl Art, after Amiri Baraka"
Read More

Robert Hayden

"October—
its plangency, its glow
as of words in
the poet’s mind,
as ofGod in
the saint’s.”

From “October”
Read More

Kevin Young

"is music is men
off early from work is waiting
for the chance at the chair
while the eagle claws holes
in your pockets keeping
time by the turning
of rusty fans steel flowers with
cold breezes [. . .]"

From “Eddie Priest’s Barbershop & Notary Closed Mondays
Read More

Kate Rushin

“Quietly rough
Tough quiet
A dignified riot
Quietly outrageous
Roughrighteous
Up
right
us
Up
lift
us
Connect us

From “Rosa Revisited”
Read More

Feature Poets

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
Explore Timeline

Gwendolyn Brooks

Worked as an assistant to E.N. French—a self-professed medium who operated out of an office in Chicago’s famed Mecca Building

Read More
Gwendolyn Brooks
Read More

Sterling A. Brown

"Low mounds have swollen in the fenced off corner,
Over brown children, marked by white-washed stones{...}”

From “Virginia Portrait"
Read More
Sterling
Brown
Read More

Lucille Clifton

“the girl is rising in me [. . .] she is asking for more than
most men are able to give,
but she means to have what she has earned,
sweet sighs, safe houses,
hands she can trust.

From “to my friend, Jerina"
Read More
Lucille
Clifton
Read More

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Met Frederick Douglass, who quickly became Dunbar’s mentor and employer, during the Chicago World’s Fair (World’s Columbian Exposition) in 1893.

Read More
Paul Laurence
Dunbar
Read More

Frances E.W. Harper

Became the first African American woman to publish a short story—the feminist-themed tale “The Two Offers” (1859)

Read More
Frances E.W.
Harper
Read More

Michael S. Harper

“Blossoms in a peanut field
won’t bring me home;
something in the hum
of cotton is a glue
that won’t hold red soil still;
ten million voices spliced
on an iron cross
between the world, and me,
and you."

From “The Meaning of Protest”
Read More
Michael S.
Harper
Read More

Allison C. Rollins

“i curse the phantom belly-
moon, can still hear the
sound of you in still water.
the wind begins to push
a heavy rain, drops spill from
every crevice of the flower.
pouring, the rain always all ways
asks for forgiveness.
a ghost kneels in me,
asks to be spared

From “original [sin]”
Read More
Allison C.
Rollins
Read More

Nikki Giovanni

Was a co-host on the PBS variety showSoul!, which aired from 1968to 1973.Interviewed Muhammad Ali, Lena Horne, and James Baldwin.

Read More
Nikki
Giovanni
Read More

Claude McKay

“De early days pass quickly ‘long,
Soon I became a man,
An’ one day foundmyself among
Strange folks in a strange lan’.
My little joys, my wholesome min’,
Deybullied out o’ me,
And made me daily mournan’ pine
An’ wish dat I was free.”

From “My Mountain Home”
Read More
Claude
McKay
Read More

Aja Monet

"years of a sun loving us, solitude is
in the wrist of a magnolia tree, hung or lynched
in a rose-throated croon of liberty and justice for all [. . .]"

From “We Are”
Read More
Aja
Monet
Read More

Jamila Woods

"I want to hold a poem in my fist in the alley just in case.
I want a poem for dude at the bus stop. Oh you can’t talk
ma?
Words to make the body inside my body less invisible."

From "Blk Girl Art, after Amiri Baraka"
Read More
Jamila
Woods
Read More

Robert Hayden

"October—
its plangency, its glow
as of words in
the poet’s mind,
as ofGod in
the saint’s.”

From “October”
Read More
Robert
Hayden
Read More

Kevin Young

"is music is men
off early from work is waiting
for the chance at the chair
while the eagle claws holes
in your pockets keeping
time by the turning
of rusty fans steel flowers with
cold breezes [. . .]"

From “Eddie Priest’s Barbershop & Notary Closed Mondays
Read More
Kevin
Young
Read More

Kate Rushin

“Quietly rough
Tough quiet
A dignified riot
Quietly outrageous
Roughrighteous
Up
right
us
Up
lift
us
Connect us

From “Rosa Revisited”
Read More
Kate
Rushin
Read More

Library Of America, in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, presents Lift Every Voice, a nationwide celebration of the 250-year-long African American poetic tradition.

COMING FALL 2020
African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song, a definitive new Library of America anthology edited by poet and Schomburg Center Director Kevin Young.
2020–2021
Free public events in New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Kansas City, and at public institutions around the country. Watch this space for details.
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Library of America is a nonprofit organization that champions the nation’s cultural heritage by publishing America’s greatest writing in authoritative new editions and providing resources and public programming enabling people to explore this rich, living legacy.
LEARN MORE
Lift Every Voice is directed by Library of America in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Academy of American Poets, the National Book Foundation, Cave Canem, The Poetry Foundation, the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP), and public libraries, arts organizations, and bookstores in all fifty states. Major funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Emerson Collective.