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Black Poetry

This guide was created to help highlight Black poetry and poetics & to celebrate National Black Poetry Day (Oct 17)

About This Guide

This guide was published to coincide with National Black Poetry Day — it highlights some materials from our collections by Black poets and about Black poetry. On the navigation bar you'll find "Featured Titles," which are items available at the Libraries as well as "Select Journals," which includes both literary and scholarly journals that focus on Black poetry and writing more generally.

National Black Poetry Day & Jupiter Hammon

Established in 1985, National Black Poetry Day is celebrated on October 17, the birthday of Jupiter Hammon (1711-1806). Hammon is widely cited as the one of the first Black writers published in what would become the United States.

Hammon's earliest known poem, "An Evening Thought," can be read at this link. Readers interested in Hammon's poetry might check out our print copy of his Collected Works or view our electronic copy of Hammon's most well-known essay. Those looking for scholarship on Hammon would be well served by starting with this 2021 paper by Julie McCown about Hammon's previously unknown poem "An Essay on Slavery" — as well as this 2018 paper by Douglas A. Jones about the figural, ideological, and rhetorical dimensions of Black writing during that period. Those interested in learning more about Hammon's life and the ongoing efforts to document it might take a look at the brief biography written by Trudier Harris and Thadious Davis as well as the 2021 report of Preservation Long Island's Jupiter Hammon Project.