The Root Reading List: Poetry

For National Poetry Month, The Root's Rebecca Walker waxes lyrical, taking us on a tour of a few of her favorite poets.


All hail National Poetry Month, in which we are allowed -- encouraged, even -- to revel in words laid one by one without the usual constraints of punctuation or the so-called rational sequencing of prose.

In honor of this month of literary freedom, my picks for April are from three of our freshest, most accomplished young poets -- and one, now gone, I cannot imagine life without.

In the coming months, look for new books of poetry by bell hooks and Percival Everett; don't forget to read Chris Abani and Natasha Trethewey; and take some time to sink into the deep waters of Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde and Yusef Komunyakaa.

Make April count. Add your favorite poets to the list in the comments, or fill the space with a poem of your own.

Evoke. Excite. Reveal. Stir. Boil. Ponder. Dare. Deliberate. Rage. Love. Desire. Howl. Be bold. Take the road not traveled.

These writers did.

Directed by Desire, by June Jordan (Copper Canyon Press)

The legendary June Jordan was one of the first poets I knew, read and understood deep in my bones. Her book for young adults, His Own Where, holds a permanent place on my bookshelf, and Things That I Do in the Dark, her first collection of poems from 1977, saw me running to pick up my own pen in response to the power of her words:

"These Poems"

These poems
they are things that I do
in the dark
reaching for you
whoever you are
are you ready?