Black Studies, Fiction, Literature, Poetry, Reading list

Black Voices in Poetry & Literature

In recognition of Black History Month, we’ve curated a reading list spotlighting the rich voices of Black poets and literary authors. These works delve into themes such as societal discord, heartbreak, family, love, survival, resistance, and grief. Navigating shape-shifting landscapes and haunted memories, the poems introduce us to resilient individuals confronting oppression. Collectively, they challenge preconceptions about race, identity, and history, weaving a diverse tapestry of narratives that broadens our perspective on the profound contributions of Black writers.

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From The University of Chicago Press

Mandible Wishbone Solvent 

By Asiya Wadud

“Wadud’s astounding new poems—many of them ekphrastic, all of them rigorously intricate, supersaturated—come across to me as both hard-edged and liminal. Enacting the dynamic relationship between figure and ground, center and edge, they frame the constant unfolding of meaning’s dimensions, its reverberations.”—Mónica de la Torre, author of Repetition Nineteen

Negro Mountain

By C. S. Giscombe

“Haunted by the memory of a ‘colossal’ Black man who died on Negro Mountain, Giscombe’s text returns to the eponymous landmark of an obscure historical figure. Giscombe’s itinerant poetic speakers, in their restless incarnations, have mapped territories, ridden the rails, and followed foxes. In Negro Mountain, they walk with wolves, crossing boundaries, escaping enclosure, always shape-shifting as they guide the reader through passages where the self is also the mythic other.”—Harryette Mullen, author of Urban Tumbleweed

From Autumn House Press


By Richard Hamilton

“The poems of Discordant will haunt you—like a tune that orients your ear to what you weren’t attuned to, like a cut that slices through the noisy distractions of the day. Hamilton is chopping up language, rewriting the score on poetic forms, and dissecting our racist-capitalist society at the same time, mixing and mingling the discourses of philosophy, culture, politics, healthcare, labor, and love, until we remember they all occupy and describe the same world. I’m grateful for this piercing, necessary voice.”—Evie Shockley, author of suddenly we


By Cameron Barnett

From Autumn House Press

“Murmur is in fact a glorious shout. These poems shake up histories, both intimate and political. They stir and disturb the ways we look at love, at race, at our people and ourselves. A bold, beautiful, and brilliant collection!”—Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

From CavanKerry Press

Glitter Road

By January Gill O’Neil

“The alluring poems in Glitter Road delve into past heartbreaks and the exquisite joy of family and new found love in a constantly changing world. In sure and talented hands like O’Neil’s, vibrant landscapes whirl, take root, and break bread with ghosts. It’s clear these heart-filled poems will have a full and magnificent life of their own.”—Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of Oceanic


By Angelique Zobitz (With a Foreword by Grisel Y. Acosta)

“Angelique Zobitz’s Seraphim radiates with flames and fierceness. Steeped in survival and salvation, devastation and affirmation, incantation and citation, Seraphim is a tribute to revolutions, delivering homage to an array of Black women including bell hooks, Roberta Flack, Megan Thee Stallion, and “Black Barbies backlit by gas station fluorescence / stunning—singing holy, holy, holy.” In Seraphim’s choral and volcanic world, Zobitz alchemizes terror into courage. In doing so, she “expose[s] what’s damaged to scrutiny and light,” inviting the reader toward their own revolution and revelation as she reminds us to “let sing, every word.”—Simone Muench, author of Hex & Howl

From Omnidawn Publishing, Inc.


By Ruth Ellen Kocher

“Kocher’s devastating collection of poems, godhouse, prefigures grief in its emergence from ‘blunder’ and ‘nothing.’ Like Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man,’ the speaker in Kocher’s godhouse holds a knife in her teeth against a shadow world of hunter and hunted in which survival is necessarily mystical. Unnerved and unnerving these poems are a barbiturate gaze’s disinhibition through the tattered dystopia of an American life. Heady, emotional, and meticulously crafted, godhouse leaves no room for delusion in its blade, pointed right at whomever might pose a threat.”—Dawn Lundy Martin, author of Good Stock Strange Blood

Letters from the Black Ark

By D.S. Marriott

“Marriot’s Letters From The Black Ark remains alive as sonority by resistance, by magnetic vernacular flaming, ‘balancing a blade on one’s shoulders’ as insouciance, as living cellular presence, flairing as it does from a temperature of mazes.”—Will Alexander, author of Divine Blue Light (for John Coltrane)

vanishing point.

By Kimberly Reyes

“Kimberly Reyes has written an innovative and magnetic book. Each poem spirals beautifully by itself but when I finished reading, I realized I had encountered and entered new architecture. Here, thinking radiates to illuminate the ‘absorbing ghosts’ of the self and the familial and the ‘living shadows’ of oppressive historical forces. Here, the language is lyrical, layered, and spectral. Here, the ‘hyphen is a rejection of negative space.’ Reyes is an astonishingly gifted poet and this book enlarges and complicates what the page can hold back, reveal.”—Eduardo Corral, author of Guillotine

From Seagull Books

Blues in the Blood

By Julien Delmaire (Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan)

A moving ode to the Mississippi delta inspired by magical realism and written in vibrant and poetic prose.

The Language of Languages

By Ngugi wa Thiong’o

With clear, conversational prose, this is the first book dedicated entirely to Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s writings on translation.

Seasons in Hippoland

By Wanjiku Wa Ngugi

“Part fairy tale, part political parable, Seasons in Hippoland is a powerful novel whose women are resilient and creative in the face of oppression.”—Foreword Reviews

Twilight of Torment

By Léonora Miano (Translated by Gila Walker)

“Ms. Miano’s essential premise is that a profound ‘subterranean wound’ was inflicted by colonialism, and that collective injury has continued through falsely enforced social hierarchies and self-immolating psychic resentments . . . The incantatory quality of the writing conjures this heightened, almost religiously attentive feeling, creating a sense of mystical potential even as the story itself dwells in suffering.”—The Wall Street Journal