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The Best African American Poets of All Time  

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729 votes 235 voters 11.1k views 31 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
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
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
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
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
Nikki Giovanni is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Rosa, The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni, Cotton candy on a rainy day
6
Phillis Wheatley is listed (or ranked) 6 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
7
Lucille Clifton is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Good news about the earth, Good Woman: Poems and A Memoir, 1969-1980
8
Natasha Trethewey is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Native Guard, Bellocq's Ophelia, Thrall: Poems
9
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
Rita Dove is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Thomas and Beulah, On the Bus with Rosa Parks, American Smooth
11
Claude McKay is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Banjo, a story without a plot, Complete poems
12
Jupiter Hammon is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
An address to the Negroes in the state of New-York
13
Alice Walker is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
The Color Purple, Possessing the Secret of Joy, The Temple of My Familiar
14
Robert Hayden is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
A ballad of remembrance, Words in the mourning time, Angle of ascent
15
Paul Laurence Dunbar is listed (or ranked) 15 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
16
Jessie Redmon Fauset is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Plum Bun, Comedy American style, There is confusion
17
James Weldon Johnson is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Along this way, The Book of American Negro Poetry, James Weldon Johnson
18
Sherley Anne Williams is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Working Cotton, Dessa Rose, Girls together
19
Audre Lorde is listed (or ranked) 19 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
20
Etheridge Knight is listed (or ranked) 20 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
21
Countee Cullen is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Caroling Dusk, The Medea and some poems, The black Christ & other poems
22
Wanda Phipps is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Wanda Phipps
23
Lorna Dee Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Drive: The First Quartet, Emplumada, From the cables of genocide
24
Yusef Komunyakaa is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
Taboo, Warhorses, Talking Dirty to the Gods
25
Arna Bontemps is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best African American Poets of All Time
The pasteboard bandit, 100 years of Negro freedom, Frederick Douglass: slave