Editor’s note: This week, for National Poetry Month, we’re featuring 37 up-and-coming black poets—including one today who is much more well-known but in a different field—who we expect do amazing work over the next decade. We grouped them by categories, though their works often blur boundaries and defy definitions. Monday’s theme was Black Regionalism, poets who look at black life and society through the prism of geographic regions or cultures. Tuesday, we presented poets who center being black and queer and place white, cis, heteronormativity to a backdrop. On Wednesday, the nine poets featured work in academic, cultural and government institutions committed to elevating and preserving the poetry artform. Today, these six poets are interdisciplinary, deploying the full spectrum of the arts: visual arts, theater, music and, of course, poetry, to convey their artistic expression.
avery r. young is a renaissance man. His interdisciplinary art spans the genres of music, performance, visual arts and literature. The Cave Canem alum has performed at the Hip Hop Theater Festival, Wordstock and Lollapalooza. Young’s first book, neckbone (Northwestern University Press), will be available in June 2019. Currently, he serves as a director for the Floating Museum and tours with his band, avery r. young & de deacon board.
Excerpt from “dem time(s) when aunt esther use(d) skinRite complexion correckor to look like Josephine Baker &/or Elizabeth”
liquor heavy | backseat | cognac chevy \ him a fine-fin(d)
hammerin kin(d) | three round(s) after midnight | two mo(re) befo(re) sun shine(d)
so much fo(r) dat innocence of mine | sho nuff gorilla(d) dat thrill(r) dat firs(t) time
Some might say Jonterri Gadson’s career is pure comedy, but the television writer’s poetry is serious. Her poetry collection, Blues Triumphant (YesYes Books), deals with family dysfunction, depression, heartbreak, and racism. For this outpouring, she has been recognized by Cave Canem and the University of Virginia’s Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts program. She currently serves as the editor of the Offing’s humor section, Wit Tea, and as the assistant professor of Creative Writing at Bloomfield College.
I am the thrust
that left lovers
spent, I am the
of their apex.
Poet and musician Kathy Z. Price received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and was included in Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poet’s Café (Henry Holt). Her first children’s-book, The Bourbon Street Musicians (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin), based on the traditional folk tale, The Bremen Town Musicians, received a starred review from ALA Booklist and among the Best Children’s Books of the Year, by Bank Street College. She is a Cave Canem Fellow.
Excerpt from “Our Father”
Roll over on my hair, two matted thatchs of rust, so many friends have departed, did I make a mistake—
-I spat on a blue cloth remember you were so funny the Corsican boy with ripped jeans and lock of
Hair that continually slid over one eye the head of the ashram was banging the yoga instructor in
Secret hills green and glassy when she be
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth is a rapper from Compton, Calif. In 2018, Lamar won a Pulitzer Prize for his album DAMN., the first hip-hop or rap album to ever win the prestigious award. The platinum-selling artist has also received five Grammy awards for the project.
I got, I got, I got, I got
Loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA
Cocaine quarter piece, got war and peace inside my DNA
I got power, poison, pain and joy inside my DNA
L. Lamar Wilson’s poetry collection Sacrilegion (Carolina Wren Press) was a finalist for the Thom Gunn Award. His documentary short, The Changing Same, won a special jury prize at the 2018 New Orleans Film Festival. Wilson, a Cave Canem and Callaloo graduate fellow and Florida A&M University alumnus, holds an M.F.A. from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in African American and multiethnic American poetics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He teaches creative writing at the University of Alabama and in the low-residency MFA program at Mississippi University for Women.
Excerpt from “Nursing”
When you ask where I want it, the knife you’ve made of your
& hard it fills the empty spaces left by bicuspids, lost to excess of
sweet, to child
Nate Marshall’s book, Wild Hundreds (University of Pittsburgh Press), won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. He has received the Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. In 2015, the founder of the poetry collective Dark Noise, he released a rap album, Grown, with his group Daily Lyrical Product. The Cave Canem fellow starred in the award-winning full-length documentary Louder Than a Bomb and has been featured on the HBO original series, Brave New Voices. He earned his M.F.A. at the University of Michigan.
Excerpt from “everything i’ve called women”
if i said baby you might think a certain thing but nah.
that’s only maybe what i mean, perhaps i’ll say ma
& your mind says Cam’ron, women creeping up
but i’m a changed man, & that’s not game ma.
Yolanda Young is the author of the memoir, On Our Way to Beautiful, published by Random House in 2002. She founded @DorpieBooks to ensure space for black voices. She is also executive director of Lawyers of Color. Follow her on Twitter.