Illustration for article titled Reading List: The Poetry Edition

Serious poetry collections continue to be birthed. The evidence:

Arc & Hue
By Tara Betts
Willow Books, September 2009
Excerpt from "Why I Collect The Hair":

Years ago, a college boyfriend left my bed
to go home. His mother honed in
on the brassy streaks
and pulled them off
with what white girl are you seeing?
So, I'm still plucking, gathering up
small tumbleweeds in my palm,
clues that deny brown
coiled inside me.

Psalm of the Sunflower
By Antoinette Brim
Willow Books, September 2009
Excerpt from "A small house by the sea":

She sometimes thinks of leaving
but only recently finished decorating the house.
Everything has a place. She's put
everything in its place. How could she
take it all apart, pack it all away. Where
would she go anyway, though she longs
for a small house by the sea. A place
all her own, where she can look out
at the water and get a sense of forever.

Pulling Scabs
By Curtis L. Crisler
Willow Books, September 2009
Excerpt from "Spectaculations":

Sometimes a child can save your life:
burn your throat on fermented lullabies
instead of Jim Beam, save your liver
from happening to cirrhosis and his friends,
make you playground and run like a cholera
victim to pick up antsy soccer kids. A child
gives you another day and the best thing
for you is another day.

Prayers Like Shoes
By Ruth Forman
Whit Press, December 2009
Excerpt from "When We Were Not Looking":

This war take a toll on you
hear it in your laugh
thinner than it used to be
still hug me in your voice though
and i hug back


The Lingua Franca of Ninth Street
By Randall Horton
Main Street Rag, September 2009
Excerpt from "Blues Birthed into Go-Go":

The granddaddy, from Mississippi  
red mud, migrated to DC with gospel
& the breeze of Emmett Till's cry
ringing his ears like a field holler.

A slow harmonic voice, he could 
pluck a guitar & keep four/four time,
sing brackish sorrow in the low note—
make a woman swallow laughter.

Also check out Liberation Narratives: New and Collected Poems 1966-2009 by Haki Madhubuti. This recently released collection is the most complete compilation of the poet-activist's career.

is a writer, speaker, author of books for adults and youth, and the book columnist for The Root. Her most recent book is \"The Message: 100 Life Lessons from Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs.\" Visit her at

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