The Best African American Poets of All Time

Over 300 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best African American Poets of All Time
Voting Rules
Vote up the all time greatest African American Poets

Who are the best African American poets? This list includes great African American poets such as Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, and Gwendolyn Brooks. The male and female African American poets on this list have left their mark on the world of poetry, and are still contributing to the genre today.

Written works have the ability to make us feel. They make us want to believe, be inspired, and live vicariously through the stories on the page. Whether short or long form, poetry is often illusory, and full of rich imagery or hidden meaning. It is these elements which provoke readers to dig deeper. The best poems and poets are read throughout the ages. They are passed from generation to generation and taught throughout school to young students.

Poets and their poetry have the ability to take readers places and into worlds never imagined. Poets can often be tortured souls or great thinkers who allow readers a new view on the world. These greatest African American poets provide the kind of emotional connection to the written word that few can.

Vote up the best African American poets on the list below, or add a poet of African American descent who is truly great, but not already on the list.

Most divisive: Arna Bontemps
Ranked by
  • Langston Hughes
    107 votes
    Fine Clothes to the Jew, Black Misery, Not Without Laughter
  • Maya Angelou
    116 votes
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Sister, Sister
  • Gwendolyn Brooks
    61 votes
    In the Mecca; Poems, Annie Allen
  • James Baldwin
    53 votes
    Go Tell It on the Mountain, Another Country, Notes of a Native Son
  • Nikki Giovanni
    52 votes
    Rosa, The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni, Cotton candy on a rainy day
  • Phillis Wheatley
    39 votes
    Poems of Phillis Wheatley, The collected works of Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects