20 Young Writers Of Color Share Their Favorite Poems

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Article originally published in  The Huffington Post by Priscilla Frank Arts Writer.

“The vulnerability and realness I’ve witnessed within the poetry world is unlike any other medium in my mind.”

In December, The New York Times invited noted writers, actors and public figures to share their favorite poems, reaching out to people like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Elena Ferrante Tavi Gevinson, Lena Dunham and Junot Díaz, among others.

After reading the published list, Tabia Alexine, a Los Angeles-based curator and creative, was disappointed. “It was a compelling group, but not as diverse and intersectionally colorful as I’d hoped,” she explained to The Huffington Post. Soon after, Alexine embarked on a project of her own, reaching out to young writers of color she admired to bring the original list the multiplicity both readers and writers deserve.

Alexine collected the perspectives of 20 new voices, each explaining the power of a single poem. “The responses reflect a spectrum of experience among the writers,” she explained. “But I did notice that several poems discussed discovery, social justice, and resistance through existence and survival.”

Looking forward, Alexine hopes future articles in outlets like The New York Times will represent a wider range of backgrounds and perspectives. And that the cultural landscape at large will follow suit. “I hope to see poetry and art by talented persons of color more widely distributed via TV, film, in commercials, at events, galleries, and conferences,” she continued. “I love seeing books like The Breakbeat Poets sold at major retailer, Barnes & Noble. I also believe performance poets and writers deserve increased honorariums for their work. I want to be a catalyst, pushing all of those things forward.”

Right in time for Black History Month, Alexine’s diversified anthology speaks to the importance of poetry to voices too often marginalized or silenced. “It can be such a powerful platform for truth-telling, disruption, affirmation, and empathy,” she said. “The vulnerability and realness I’ve witnessed within the poetry world is unlike any other medium in my mind. These 20 individuals are unapologetically taking up space and making noise as writers, activists, performers, educators, literary editors, students, and so much more.”

Learn about their favorite poems, and the stories behind them: 

http://goo.gl/jZQGlp

Between The World And Me

WORLD

A bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States” (The New York Observer)

“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
 

In the one hundred fifty years since the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one, written on flesh: It is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country’s foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war, and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up, and killed in our streets.

What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all—regardless of race—honestly reckon with our country’s fraught racial history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son.

Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry, and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children’s lives have been taken as American plunder.

Taken together, these stories map a winding path toward a kind of liberation—a journey from fear and confusion to a full and honest understanding of the world as it is. Masterfully woven from lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me offers a powerful new framework for understanding America’s history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward.

The Author

Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a former staff writer at The Village Voice and Time and has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and numerous other publications. Coates has authored a memoir: The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, and runs a blog, Ta-Nehisi News, which was named one of Time magazine’s Best Blogs of 2011. He lives in New York City.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=Ta-Nehisi+Coates&search-alias=books&text=Ta-Nehisi+Coates&sort=relevancerank