It’s Black Poetry Day, and today we honor those ingenious men and women who have been brave enough to bare their souls through literature and share it with the world.
Why commemorate on October 17th? According to sources, Jupiter Hammon, the first published black poet in the United States, was born in Long Island, New York, on October 17, 1711. In honor of Hammon’s birth, we celebrate the contributions of all African Americans to the world of poetry. Although he was a slave, Hammon was purportedly allowed access to the manor library and was educated with the estate owner’s children, even working with Henry Lloyd in his business ventures.
But he was far from being the only former slave to have a notable writing career. Phyllis Wheatley was also an African slave — however, as her works spread throughout town, she became the abolitionists’ illustrative testimony that blacks could be both artistic and intellectual. Her name was a household word among literate colonists and her achievements a catalyst for the fledgling antislavery movement.
Poetry has certainly transformed over the years, especially with the rise of social media and the impact Hip Hop now has on the mainstream. Most people don’t realize that Hip Hop is a form of poetry with a sick beat behind it. Just ask rap’s go-to poet, Wale. The DC native once said of poetry:
“The ability to make somebody feel something: that’s art. However you look at it, whether you’re an author, a painter, a singer, a rapper, a spoken-word artist – art. I feel like I’m one of the more creative artists in the game. I think I’m going to be here for a while.”
In honor of Black Poetry Day, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite young stars who’ve changed the poetry game for us millennials. Everyone love a generic quote, but these writers always push their pens to give us more — and keep us wanted more. Hit the flip for 5 young, Black poets we all should be following on Instagram.