The 100 Best African American Poems

The 100 Best African American Poems

"Hear voices contemporary and classic as selected by ""New York Times ""bestselling author Nikki Giovanni"

Award-winning poet and writer Nikki Giovanni takes on the impossible task of selecting the 100 best African American works from classic and contemporary poets. Out of necessity, Giovanni admits she cheats a little, selecting a larger, less round number.

The result is this startlingly vibrant collection that spans from historic to modern, from structured to freeform, and reflects the rich roots and visionary future of African American verse. These magnetic poems are an exciting mix of most-loved classics and daring new writing. From Gwendolyn Brooks and Langston Hughes to Tupac Shakur, Natasha Trethewey, and many others, the voice of a culture comes through in this collection, one that is as talented, diverse, and varied as its people.

African American poems are like all other poems: beautiful, loving, provocative, thoughtful, and all those other adjectives I can think of. "Poems know no boundaries." They, like all Earth citizens, were born in some country, grew up on some culture, then in their blooming became citizens of the Universe. "Poems fly from heart to heart," head to head, to whisper a dream, to share a condolence, to congratulate, and to vow forever. The poems are true. They are translated and they are celebrated. They are sung, they are recited, they are "delightful." They are neglected. They are forgotten. They are put away. Even in their fallow periods they sprout images. And fight to be revived. And spring back to life with a bit of sunshine and caring.
-Nikki Giovanni

"Read" Gwendolyn Brooks Kwame Alexander Tupac Shakur Langston Hughes Mari Evans Kevin Young Asha Bandele Amiri Baraka

"Hear" Ruby Dee Novella Nelson Nikki Giovanni Elizabeth Alexander Marilyn Nelson Sonia Sanchez

"And many, many, more"

Nikki Giovanni is an award-winning poet, writer, and activist. She is the author of more than two dozen books for adults and children, including "Bicycles," "Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea," "Racism 101," "Blues: For All the Changes," and "Love Poems." Her children's book-plus-audio compilation "Hip Hop Speaks to Children "was awarded the NAACP Image Award. Her children's book "Rosa," a picture-book retelling of the Rosa Parks story, was a Caldecott Honor Book and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. Both books were "New York Times "bestsellers. Nikki is a Grammy nominee for her spoken-word album "The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection "and has been nominated for the National Book Award. She has been voted Woman of the Year by "Essence," "Mademoiselle," and "Ladies' Home Journal." She is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, where she teaches writing and literature.

Title:The 100 Best African American Poems
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

    The 100 Best African American Poems Reviews

  • Zanna

    Just sharing a few of my own favourites from this. It comes with a CD = )The Girlfriend’s TrainNikky Finney“You write like a Black woman who’s never been hit before.”I read poetry in Phillyfor...

  • Dusky Literati

    Poet Nikki Giovanni is the editor of this anthology of The 100 Best African American Poems. However, there is an asterisk and small type indicating “but I cheated” and that’s because the book ac...

  • Mark Robison

    I get poetry books regularly from the library, read a few poems, and return them because they don't capture me. This is especially true of anthologies, which often feel like consuming a healthy food t...

  • robin friedman

    A Poet's Anthology Of African American PoetryAfrican Americans have made large contributions to the literature of the United States especially in poetry. The award-winning poet Nikki Giovanni has sele...

  • Brown Girl Reading

    I decided to get this book because I'm lacking collections and books of poetry in my library and was won over immediately when I saw it on Kim Lechelle's You Tube channel. I felt what better way to s...

  • Wendy

    I wasn't able to give this collection the time and contemplation it deserves before it was due back at the library, but--speaking as someone who's intimidated by poetry--the poems in this book are bea...

  • Vilo

    This collection is amazing and includes a CD with various readers reading different poems. There are a few poems that are pretty raw. Most are stunning emotionally and in visual imagery. Two of my fav...

  • Lori

    In my opinion, Nikki Giovanni represents one of the best modern poets of the 20th and 21st centuries. So when she edits or publishes a book of poems, I pick up a copy and peruse the content. She inclu...

  • Meghan

    I thought this a good collection. I am not (pardon the pun) well-versed in poets and poetry, although I do enjoy it. From the title, I had a misconception - this is more a collection of preference, I ...

  • Jonathan Tennis

    Enjoyed a number of these poems. Giovanni’s work editing this collection exposed me to a number of poets that I had not yet discovered. Some of the poems I really enjoyed include the following: I am...