Poets The Best African American Poets of All Time  

Ranker Books
563 votes 171 voters 8.6k views 30 items

List 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.

list ordered by

1
64 13
Maya Angelou is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Sister, Sister

2
53 13
Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Fine Clothes to the Jew, Black Misery, Not Without Laughter

3
30 6
James Baldwin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Go Tell It on the Mountain, Another Country, Notes of a Native Son

4
32 8
Gwendolyn Brooks is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
In the Mecca; Poems, Annie Allen

5
23 5
Lucille Clifton is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Good news about the earth, Good Woman: Poems and A Memoir, 1969-1980

6
24 7
Nikki Giovanni is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Rosa, The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni, Cotton candy on a rainy day

7
17 3
Natasha Trethewey is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Native Guard, Bellocq's Ophelia, Thrall: Poems

8
21 7
Phillis Wheatley is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Poems of Phillis Wheatley, The collected works of Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects

9
12 3
Amiri Baraka is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Home, The essence of reparation, Transbluesency

10
10 2
Claude McKay is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Banjo, a story without a plot, Complete poems

11
12 4
Rita Dove is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Thomas and Beulah, On the Bus with Rosa Parks, American Smooth

12
14 6
Alice Walker is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
The Color Purple, Possessing the Secret of Joy, The Temple of My Familiar

13
12 5
Paul Laurence Dunbar is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
The sport of the gods, The fanatics., The complete stories of Paul Laurence Dunbar

14
8 2
Jupiter Hammon is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
An address to the Negroes in the state of New-York

15
11 5
Robert Hayden is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
A ballad of remembrance, Words in the mourning time, Angle of ascent

16
7 3
Audre Lorde is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
The Cancer Journals, The Marvelous Arithmetic of Distance: Poems 1987-1992, Undersong: Chosen Poems Old and New

17
5 1
Jessie Redmon Fauset is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Plum Bun, Comedy American style, There is confusion

18
6 3
Lorna Dee Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Drive: The First Quartet, Emplumada, From the cables of genocide

19
6 3
James Weldon Johnson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Along this way, The Book of American Negro Poetry, James Weldon Johnson

20
5 2
Sherley Anne Williams is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Working Cotton, Dessa Rose, Girls together

21
5 2
Wanda Phipps is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time

22
7 5
Countee Cullen is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Caroling Dusk, The Medea and some poems, The black Christ & other poems

23
7 5
Etheridge Knight is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
The essential Etheridge Knight, Black voices from prison, 2 poems for black relocation centers

24
6 5
Arna Bontemps is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
The pasteboard bandit, 100 years of Negro freedom, Frederick Douglass: slave

25
5 4
Yusef Komunyakaa is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Taboo, Warhorses, Talking Dirty to the Gods

26
4 3
Cornelius Eady is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Kartunes, Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, Running Man

27
5 6
Quincy Troupe is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Take It To The Hoop, Magic Johnson, Choruses

28
3 4
Forrest Hamer is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Call and response, Middle ear, Rift

29
3 5
Sterling Allen Brown is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
The Negro in American fiction, The Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown, The Negro caravan

30
2 4
James Emanuel is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
The treehouse, and other poems, Panther man