Today is Black Poetry Day, celebrated annually on October 17th to honor all of the talented Black Voices in poetry and prose, and to honor the birthday of Jupiter Hammon, the first published Black poet in the United States.
We thought it only fitting to celebrate today, since one of our pastimes here at Pinto Carpentry (when we’re not out in the woodshop) is spending hours lost in the pages of our favorite literature, wandering bookstores and book shops, and visiting the local library. We hope that today’s blog post will inspire you to do much of the same with your free time, and maybe introduce you to some new names to put on your “to be read” pile.
We also encourage our clients and readers to head out and listen to the amazing writers, poets, and songwriters that attend the local Queen City Coffee Roasters Open Mic Nights each month on every third Friday. You'll find lots of brilliant local minds who have written some of the most gorgeous prose and poetry!
Here are some selected poets to explore today who have published Poetry and Novels in Verse:
Jupiter Hammon was an American Writer credited as a founder of African-American literature. His first poem, “An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries” was published in 1761. It was the first ever published poem by an African American in North America. In addition to his poetry and prose, he was also a preacher and commercial clerk on Long Island New York.
Arna Bontemps was an author, poet, and editor of more than thirty books about the African American Experience. He published in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for both children and adults. He won multiple awards and accolades for his work including (but not limited to:) two Pushkin Prizes for Poetry, two Julius Rosenwald Fellowships, two Guggenhiem Fellowships, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award in 1956, and two honorary doctorate degrees from Morgan STate University and Berea College.
Elizabeth Acevedo is a New York Times Bestselling author and poet. Her book The Poet X has received rave reviews and won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, The Michael L. Printz Award, The Pura Belpre Award, the Carnegie Medal, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and the Walter Award! She has published several novels in prose format including Clap When You Land, With the Fire On High, and Inheritance.
Kwame Alexander is a poet and author whose novel The Crossover won the 2015 Newberry Medal and was also selected as an Honor Book for the Coretta Scott King Award. He is a New York Times Bestselling offer of 21 books and counting! You may recognize some of his other titles such as Rebound, Solo, The Undefeated.
Dean Atta is a British poet of Greek Cypriot and Caribbean descent whose work explores race, national identity, and sexuality. His work has been awarded accolades such as the 2020 Stonewall Book PRize, shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, YA Book Prize, and Jhalak Prize. He also has appeared on BBC and Channel 4 and has a regular column in Attitude Magazine. You may recognize his name from his books The Black Flamingo and Only on the Weekends.
Sojourner Kincaid Rolle was the Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara, CA from 2015-2017, and she has done notable work as a poet, playwright and environmental educator. She has written seven books of poetry, and six plays, and you may recognize titles such as The Mellow Yellow Global Umbrella and Free At Last: A Juneteenth Poem.
Other notable names of Black Poets and Authors we highly recommend include: Tameka Fryer Brown, Ty Chapman, Courtne Comrie, Matthew Dawkins, Alice Faye Duncan, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Nikki Grimes, Robert Hayden, Mariama Lockington, Walter Dean Meyers, Andrea Pinkney, Erica Martin, Rahma Rodaah, Ashley Woodfolk, Jacqueline Woodson, Ibi Zoboi
Here’s some local area and independent bookstores we recommend if you’d like to acquire the books recommended above:
The Chatham Bookseller in Chatham
The Book Trader in Clark
Ida’s Bookshop in Collingswood
The Little Boho Bookshop in Bayonne
The Bookworm in Bernardsville
River Road Books in Fair Haven
The Beautiful American in Jersey City
Black Dog Books in Lafayette
Metuchen OP Bookstore in Metuchen
Words Bookstore in Maplewood
Indigo Books in Millburn
Watchung Booksellers in Montclair
Montclair Book Center in Montclair
Source of Knowledge in Newark
Hidden Gems Library Emporium in New Brunswick
L’Overture Books in Pleasantville
Quinns Bookstore in Rahway
Here’s the Story Bookstore in Union
The Town Bookstore in Westfield