100 of My Favorite Poets For Your Survival Pack

When my sister and I were little, my grandma would pack us survival packs for the ride home from her house. Filled with food and toys and little notes, they made me feel like I could carry safety with me. As an adult, and as a not-rich mentally ill black traumatized queer person, leaving home feels close to impossible. But building and carrying my own survival pack helps me remember that even if you can’t leave, you don’t have to always be stuck.

In times of chaos, I often forget what helps me feel safe. For most of the past year, I’ve worked to remember how I’ve survived all of my worsts. In every memory, I’ve reached for a book. Being abused? Read a book. Worried about damnation from being gay? Read a book. People popped up and talked to me even though they weren’t supposed to be there? Read a book. Therapy and therapy and more therapy? Read a book, read a book, read a goddamn book. Poetry doesn’t save the world, but poetry could save you.

Poetry is my survival pack. In an interview in Guernica, Ada Limon and Matthew Zapruder discuss how poetry is vital, and Zapruder notes:

“[W]hat poetry is asking us to accept can be difficult. Our proximity to our mortality, the fragility of our existence, how close we live in every moment to nameless abysses, and the way language itself is beautifully, tragically, thrillingly insufficient… these are some of the engines that drive the poem. It’s natural to want to turn away from these things. But we have to face them, as best we can, at least sometimes. Poetry can help us do that nearly impossible work.”

The poets below are perfect for your survival pack so you can remember “safe,” and so you can always do the impossible work.


1. Elizabeth Acevedo

Who she is: Elizabeth Acevedo is a Dominican poet and novelist from New York City. She’s toured around the world, given TED talks and been featured on BET and Mun2. Her chapbook Beastgirl, and Other Origin Myths was published through YesYes Books and her debut novel Poet X was published by HarperCollins. Check out four of her poems, including “Dominican Superstitions,” in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, several of her poems and an interview with her in Puerto Del Sol: Black Voices and an interview with her at Locked Horn Press.

Why I love her: Acevedo is willing to share her light and love. She gave a TED talk on using her poetry to confront the violence against women (“That last question: Is this the last poem I will write about a girl like you?’ haunts my work.”) that not only diagnoses her work but demands the audience remember and honor women and their stories when they’re alive.

Find her: On Twitter.


2. A.K. Afferez

Who they are: Founder of 365daysoflesbians, a historical account of women loving women, A.K. Afferez currently blogs at Ploughshares and works at Winter Tangerine. You can read their “portrait of the poet who fell for the straight leader of the local rally for women’s rights” in Teen Vogue and “Three Hours at the Met” in Agave.

Why I love them: For the past year and a half, they have encouraged me to be my best lesbian literary self. They cheer me on through on writing projects and push me to write clearer and with more heart. Afferez’s sincerity and passion trembles at the edge of their words. As someone who started out yearning to be an astrophysicist, I’m glad they’re walking the path of a writer. I hope they continue to because I know the stars recognize themselves in the words they write.

Find them: On Twitter.


3. Brianna Albers

Who she is: Brianna Albers is the founder and editor in chief of Monstering (featured here on Autostraddle earlier this year), a literary magazine that focuses on nonbinary and women disabled poets and the reclamation of “monster.” Albers is a columnist at SMA News Today and author of Why I’m Not Where You Are. Read her “A Leper Begs The Son of God” in the Rising Phoenix Press and “Annie Scrubs Motel Floors” in Guernica.

Why I love her: She is one of the kindest most thoughtful writers and editors. Her attention to detail and mastery of words elevates every issue she’s published and every workshop she’s led.

Find her: On Twitter.


4. Hala Alyan

Who she is: Hala Alyan is an award-winning Palestinian-American poet, novelist and clinical psychologist who lives in Brookland with her husband. She is the author of three poetry books: Hijra, Four Cities, and Atrium and a novel, Salt Houses. Read four poems including “I’m Not Speaking First” in the Rumpus.

Why I love her: Her poems feel like essentials to declarations of love.

Find her: On Twitter.


5. Justice Ameer

Who xe are: A black genderfluid and transfeminine poet and activist, Ameer has represented Brown University at College Unions Poetry Slam Invitationals and represented Providence at the Individual World Poetry Slam. Xe are working on their debut collection.

Why I love xem: After the Pulse shooting, I didn’t know how to feel aside from terrified. I didn’t want to stay stuck and xyr’s poem “Night Divine” in Glass Poetry’s Pulsamos: LGBTQ Poets of Color Respond to the Pulse Night Club Shooting gave me permission to move forward in my fear. Xe has me question the prisons I’ve locked myself into. Xyr’s work gives me the key to dismantling them and encouraging others to do the same.

Find xem: On Paypal.


6. Moss Angel Witchmonster

Who she is: Moss Angel is a poet, tattoist and designer in Portland, Oregon (previously featured on Autostraddle under the name Sara June Woods). Read an interview with her in Clash, her poem “Dear Juniper” in Guernica, and two Poems from Sea Witch I in The Fanzine.

Why I love her: I read ~yr various hairlessnesses~ as a recommendation from Dalton Day. I didn’t know art could feel like my whole world animated with colors three shades darker than what I’m used to. She has a way of creating that gives you permission to be different for a little while. And as you read more and more of her poetry, you can stretch that little while into a life.

Find her: On Twitter.


7. manuel arturo abreu

Who they are: manuel arturo abreu is a poet and artist from Santo Domingo and the Bronx creating in Portland. They co-facilitate a free pop-up school in Portland called home school. You can get their book, List of Consonants and transtrender now. Read three of their poems, including “If I Could Vote, I’d Vote For Cardi B,” in the Believer, “Butching it up + dumbing it down: Ser Serpas in conversation on shitty childhoods, respectability + erasure” in AQNB, and three poems in the 2015 trans issue of The Offing.

Why I love them: abreu writes short punching poetry that leaves me dizzy. Sometimes I mistake short poetry for easy reading. Sometimes I forget that the shorter the line, the more weight each word has to carry. abreu reminds me of this lesson often.

Find them: On Twitter.


8. Fatimah Asghar

Who she is: Fatimah Asghar is a writer and co-creator of Brown Girls, a webseries that follows two WOC best friends as they try to survive their midtwenties that was picked up earlier this year by HBO. Asghar is a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Poetry Fellow, Fulbright Fellow and member of Dark Noise Collective. She’s written a sold-out chapbook, After, and her full-length debut, If They Come For Us: Poems, will be released through One World/Random House this year.

Why I love her: I sat on my bedroom floor and read After in an afternoon. I didn’t know you could put the truth down like this, put it in a place where it doesn’t hurt you over and over again. I met her at an AWP offsite event and though my friend and I tried to look cool, I know I failed. Because the power-and-universe-contained-within-a-body-feeling doesn’t disappear once Asghar steps down from the stage. She carries that magic with her.


9. aziza barnes

Who they are: aziza barnes is a co-host of The Poetry Gods (with Jose Olivarez and Jon Sands), a poetry editor of Kinfolk Quarterly, an MFA candidate at the University of Mississippi, and the winner of the 2015 Pamet River Prize. They were born in Los Angeles, currently live in Oxford, Mississippi, and co-founded the Conversation Literary Festival. Their chapbook me Aunt Jemima and the nailgun is available through Button Poetry. You can also read two of their poems and an interview between them and Luther Hughes in the Shade Journal, read their piece “A Queer Black Poet’s Quest for Liberation” in Vice, and watch “My Dad Asks, ‘How Come Black Folk Can’t Just Write About Flowers?’” at Button Poetry.

Why I love them: After hearing them read from i be, but i ain’t at an AWP offsite reading, I got to meet them and hug them, and even being around their honesty and vulnerability for five minutes made me want to exude the same.

Find them: On Twitter.


10. Yasmin Belkhyr

Who she is: Yasmin Belkhyr is the founder and editor-in-chief of Winter Tangerine, a literary magazine that focuses on uplifting marginalized voices, and Honeysuckle Press, a literary press committed to doing the same. Belkyhr is author of Bone Light, through the African Poetry Series and Akashic Books. You can read five of her poems, including “Ridgewood Parks,” in PANK.

Why I love her: Belkhyr sees the potential in others, cultivates their talent and brings them into spaces where they can be properly recognized and lauded. It’s a gift that not many have and that even fewer use for the good of the community, but Belkhyr does both.

Find her: On Twitter.


11. Mahogany L. Browne

Who she is: Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, activist, curator and educator. A Cave Canem fellow, Browne is an alum of Poets House and Serenbe Focus and nominee for an NAACP Award for Outstanding Literary Works. She is founder of Women Writers of Color Reading Room, publisher of Penmanship Books, an Urban Word NYC artistic director, the Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe Friday Night Slam curator and the director of [email protected] Programming. She is co-editor of the forthcoming The BreakBeat Poets vol. 2: Black Girl Magic anthology and is author of several books and the chapbook Kissing Caskets.

Why I love her: I wish I could’ve grown up with this poetry. With black girl magic, I would’ve comforted myself, lullabied myself to sleep every night to her words. I would’ve held them in my fist instead of the mirror I tried to break when I saw my reflection and it didn’t white back. I wish I had Browne’s poetry years and years ago but I’m so glad that other black girls have it now.

Find her: On Twitter.


12. Lauren Bullock

Who she is: Lauren Bullock is the poetry editor of Freezeray Poetry and a contributing writer to BlackNerdProblems. She works with youth through Words, Beats, and Life, a nonprofit that transforms lives and communities through hip-hop, and also hosts poetry events with Busboys and Poets.

Why I love her: When I heard “How Loud Do I Forgive Myself Before It’s Just Another Scream?” a year ago, my heart stopped. Bullock’s work always pulls me towards my bravest self.

Find her: On Twitter.


13. Anne Carson

Who she is: Anne Carson is a Canadian poet, essayist and translator famous for her verse novel Autobiography of Red, a modern tale following Herakles and Geryon. Read her “The Glass Essay” at the Poetry Foundation.

Why I love her: One of my best friends surprised me with Autobiography of Red in the fall. I had talked about how much I loved Carson, even though I knew of her only in spurts. I read Autobiography of Red in less than a day. I dreamt of red wings bursting through my back, my spine breaking and repairing and breaking from the glory of it. I can’t claim to care for mythology as much as I want to. I can’t even say I fully understand it. But Carson writes with something fiercer than love when it comes to her subjects. It’s like she scoops a place in their center and writes them true from the inside out. I can’t help but look away from a truth unfolding like that. Doesn’t matter how far I look though, her words always find a way to look back.

Find her: On Facebook.


14. Imani Cezanne

Who she is: Imani Cezanne is a community organizer, poet, workshop facilitator, and slam coach from San Diego. The member of three National Poetry Slam teams across four years (placing in the top six in the last three years), Cezanne has performed on TVOne’s Verses and Flow. As founding president of San Francsico State Univeristy’s first poetry centered organization, S.P.E.A.K. (Spoken Poetry Expressed by All Kinds), Cezanne has facilitated workshops and brought nationally-recognized poets to S.P.E.A.K. as well as coached SFSU’s first poetry slam team to fifth in the nation at the 2017 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational. Read and listen to #flyingwhileblack on Split This Rock.

Why I love her: I’ve seen Imani perform at Busboys & Poets twice, once as competiting for a spot on the Beltway Poetry Slam team and the other as host at Busboys and Poets, and I’m so excited every time she steps on stage to speak. I keep talking about how pumped I am for Black Panther and the black joy I feel for that movie is the same black joy I feel whenever I interact with Cezanne’s work. From laughing at Lemonade references during her hosting to cheering her on when performing “Protest”, Cezanne’s work makes me thankful to be alive in this black body.

Find her: On Twitter.


15. Kristin Chang

Who she is: Kristin Chang is a college student who works for Winter Tangerine and is a former freelance writer for Teen Vogue. Her debut collection Past Lives, Future Bodies is forthcoming this fall from Black Lawrence Press. Read three of her poems, including “DEFENSE MECHANISMS,” in The Wanderer.

Why I love her: Chang makes language dance. I read one of her drafts in a poetry workshop and was floored by the mastery she possesses. Her poetry sits up and talks to you. It holds you back from running out the door even though you’re late because you can’t end on the tail ends of conversation with them. I don’t cry but the results of the 2016 election made me wish I did. Yes. Poetry did a series of poetry responses to the election called #NotTrump. Chang’s poem “texts from my mother, post-election” was one of the ones that got me to take in the first shuddering breath before giving myself space to break. Every time I come across her work, I save it for the end of the day because I need the dark to concentrate, the dark for permission to feel everything I never knew poetry could make me feel.

Find her: On Twitter.


16. M.K. Chavez

Who she is: MK Chavez is a Latinx Oakland-based writer and a Squaw Valley Writers Conference, Antioch Writers Workshop, and VONA fellow. She is co-founder and curator of Lyrics & Dirges and co-director of the Berkley Poetry Festival. She is the author of Mothermorphosis and Dear Animal,, her first full-length poetry collection, among others. Read Three Poems in Rivet Journal.

Why I love her: In her interview with Cosmonauts Avenue, Cahvez explains the humor and surrealism in her work: “So this kind of humor, it’s the laughter of resistance.” This, alongside her explanation that art is a gift in that in can allow us to get to the other side of trauma, are two of the more important lessons I’ve learned recently. Her work proves that the iamgination is still very much a part of reality and that seeing things differently from other people doesn’t make you wrong about what you’re seeing, that sometimes, it just means that you’re looking at it more truthfully.

Find her: On Twitter.


17. Franny Choi

Who she is: Franny Choi is a writer, performer, teaching artist and member of Dark Noise Collective. She has received fellowships from Kundiman and Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, was co-director of the Providence Poetry Slam, has received awards from the Poetry Foundation and the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, and has been a finalist in several poetry slams, including National Poetry, the Individual World Poetry Slam and Women of the World Poetry Slam. Choi is the author of two books, an MFA candidate at University of Michigan’s Helen Zell’s Writer Program and co-host of the podcast VS with Danez Smith. You can read and listen to her “Introduction to Quantum Theory” in the Adroit Journal, watch “Whiteness Walks Into A Bar” at Button Poetry and read more about her at PBS.

Why I love her: Choi writes and performs with an unmatched urgency and command. I love stepping into a poem and feeling the floor disappear from under me three lines in. Her work makes me so dizzy that by the end of it all I don’t know which way is up, or if there is an up. Choi’s work makes me question whether anything I know ever stays put. Her work teaches me that the only one I can trust in the confusion is me. That I’m the one I came to the poem with and the only one who will still walk away by the end of it.

Find her: On Twitter.


18. Lucille Clifton

Who she is: Lucille Clifton is a black American poet from Buffalo, New York. She was twice nominated for the Pulitzer in poetry and was the poet laureate of Maryland.

Why I love her: Clifton’s poem “won’t come you celebrate with me” is one of those poems that built my heart. When I first started therapy, one of the things I told my therapist was, “I’m just trying not to die.” It feels like that bar is so low, because it fucking is. You don’t feel the weight of that until you talk to people who care for you who aren’t queer, black and mentally ill. But every moment I’m not dead is cause for celebration. Clifton allows me to make space for this every time I breathe.

Find her legacy page: On Facebook.


19. Karla Cordero

Who she is: Karla Cordero is an editor of SpitJournal, and recipient of the 2015 Loft Literary Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship. You can get her first book, Grasshoppers Before Gods through Dancing Girl Press. Read “a history of walls” in Tinderbox.

Why I love her: I wish you all could have been in the audience when Karla performed at Pink Door in 2015. There was a moment, during a poem about domestic abuse, when she sneered as she read a line with clear intention even though the language would’ve tripped up most. The moment she sneered in her performance, my heart was like: She makes sense to me in a way few have ever done. I’m gonna follow her work forever. She doesn’t just give great work, she supports it too, making sure that other people are given room for their voices if they choose to speak.

Find her: On Facebook.


20. Jasmine Cui

Who she is: Co-editor-in-chief of the Ellis Review, Cui is a 2018 YoungArts finalist in creative nonfiction and received an honorable mention in poetry from YoungArts 2018.

Why I love her: We met last year through the Blueshift Journal’s Speakeasy Project. We’re both anxious people who cannot handle phone calls but were willing to suffer that anxiety to learn from Christopher Soto. We talked to each other throughout the whole program and she is one of the people who reminds me how often words can be a gift. She introduced me to Kaveh Akbar’s poetry when she sent me Portrait of the Alcoholic, and couldn’t have known would be help me time and time again as I tried to heal. Her poem “Out of Water” shows that if she is the future of poetry, then the future will stun us with its brilliance.

Find her: On Twitter.


21. Kai Davis

Who she is: Kai Davis is a Philadelphia writer, performer and educator. She’s a member of The Philly Pigeon Collective, a group of poets that host award-winning poetry slams in Philadelphia, and is the 2011 Brave New Voices Champion and 2016 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational winner. She is also the author of the now sold-out, Black Chronicle. Listen to her “Ain’t I A Woman” on Slamfind.

Why I love her: Her poem “Homicidal Revolution” shed light on a lot of dark places I kept secret: sexuality, violence, abandonment, and self-harm, and all through the voice of a black woman.

Find her: On Twitter.


22. Natalie Diaz

Who she is: Natalie Diaz is Mojave, an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian tribe, and works with the last remaining speakers at Fort Mojave to revitalize their language. A Lannan Literary fellow, Native Arts Council Foundation Artist fellow, and 2015 Hodder fellow, Diaz’s first poetry collection, When My Brother Was An Aztec was published through Copper Canyon Press. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at Arizona State University and teaches at Princeton University, NYU, and the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Rez MFA program. You can read her poem “Catching Copper” at Buzzfeed.

Why I love her: I have a line from her poem “Prayers or Oubilettes” — “The world has tired of tears. / We weep owls now. They live longer. / They know their way in the dark.” — saved to my Trauma Files, a folder where I keep things that help me rage and heal. This poem gives my grief and other unnameable feelings a body to inhabit. It gives them permission to move.

Find her: On Twitter.


23. jayy dodd

Who they are: jayy dodd is a blxk trans feminine question mark, writer and artist. They are author of three books: [sugar] in the tank, Mannish Tongues, and The Black Condition ft. Narcissus, forthcoming from Siren Song/CCM Press. A Pushcart Prize nominee, they co-edited Bettering American Poetry and are a 2016 Lambda Literary Poetry Fellow. Read two of their poems in DREGINALD.

Why I love them: jayy puts in that work. That bxtch-we’re-gonna-get-free-and-this-is-how work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stumbled across their words during a depressive episode and been like, “Right, this shit is hard but it’s survivable and I gotta make sure I survive this.” I mean, isn’t that the whole point of creating? To say I’m here in spite of and make room enough for others to claim the same?

Find them: On Twitter.


24. Chanel Dupree

Who she is: Chanel Dupree is a poet, playwright, and screenwriter currently working on Shoulders, a dramedy about a black woman’s difficult relationship with her mother and finding healing through black friendships.

Why I love her: I met Chanel at Pink Door in 2015, where she performed “Delusions,” which I’d watched at least 15 times on YouTube. The world melted away during her performance. We talk about how black women will save the world, but Chanel reminds me that’s not true: Black women will save themselves and if we’re lucky, they’ll take us along for the ride.

Find her: On Twitter.


25. Uma Dwivedi

Who they are: Uma Dwivedi is an artist and poet working for Winter Tangerine. A 2017 Write Bloody chapbook dinalist, their chapbook They Named Her Goddess is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Check out some of their art on Instagram or listen to their very gay poem.

Why I love them: I worked with Uma during a Winter Tangerine workshop and they are one of best people I know. They are open and exact and intense in all their work and I’m always excited to see what they share next.

Find them:: On Twitter.


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26. Dane Figueroa Edidi (Lady Dane)

Who she is: A 2016 Helen Hayes Award nominee, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi is an actor, singer, dancer, writer, trans performance artist and Ancient Jazz Priestess of Mother Africa. The first trans woman of color to publish a fiction novel in DC, Yemaya’s Daughters, Lady Dane received the Pioneer Award for work with the DC community in 2015 and was named on Advocate’s Trans 100 list. She is also a teacher, oraclur consultant, healer and founding member of Force Collision.

Why I love her: I saw Lady Dane perform for the first time at an all-trans-poets reading she hosted at Capturing Fire last year. Later that weekend, I got to take her class, MYSTICAL MANIFESTO, which focused on working towards your fullest and best creative self as a QTPOC creator. She led us in a meditation and, even though I usually hate those because I usually don’t trust the person leading them, I found myself trusting her. She gave a lot of wonderful advice but all I can really remember is trying not to cry as she told me truths my younger selves always needed to hear. She is the first person to make me believe being black and queer and mentally ill does not have to be a death sentence. It can be a celebration and I can make it a life and find a way to live it even if others don’t want me to.

Find her: On Twitter.


27. Tafisha A. Edwards

Who she is: Tafisha A. Edwards is the author of The Bloodlet, which won Phantom Book’s 2016 Brietling Chapbook Prize, the assistant poetry editor to Gigantic Sequins, a Cave Canem fellow, a graduate of University of Maryland’s Jiminéz-Porter Writers’ House, and a former American Poetry Museum educator. She is currently working on her full-length poetry collection, RIOT / ACT. Read three of her poems in Beltway Poetry Quarterly.

Why I love her: Her poem “Everywhere In the World They Hurt Little Black Girls” crushes my gut. If I could have neon sign hovering over me wherever I go, it’d read her words from this poem continuously.

Find her: On Twitter.


28. Safia Elhillo

Who she is: Safia Elhillo is Sudanese by way of Washington D.C. Winner of the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize and a Pushcart Prize nominee. Her debut collection, The January Children, was released through University of Nebraska Press. You can read two of her poems including “an inheritance” in Narrative Northeast.

Why I love her: I watched “Alien Suite” and stayed stunned. I get nervous about watching live performances because there’s so much room for error. But this video reminds me why I love and watch live performances in the first place: for all the room for error, there’s also room for beauty that cannot happen anywhere else. Elhillo teaches me that you can lean into your obsession and create and create and create within it.

Find her: On Twitter.


29. Shira Erlichman

Who she is: Shira Erlichman is a singer, poet, artist and producer who lives in Brooklyn. She released her experimental electronic-pop album Subtle Creature in 2016 and teaches group and individual writing workshops. A mental health advocate featured in Bust, the Huffington Post, and fields magazine, she is currently working on a poetry book titled Odes to Lithium. She also curates a monthly email zine.

Why I love her: I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without Shira. Hell, I wouldn’t be close to the person I want to be without Shira. I took workshops with her right after I came back from Pink Door and, no lie, she gave me a map that lead me right back to the truth of my heart.

Find her: On Twitter.


30. Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

Who she is: J. Jennifer Espinoza is a trans woman poet and a force on Twitter. Her first full-length collection, There Should Be Flowers, was published through Civil Coping Mechanisms. Check out five of her poems including “Poem (Let Us Live)” at PEN America, or a digital download of her first book, i’m alive/it hurts/i love it, from which all proceeds go to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

Why I love her: Early into Facebook Live being a thing, I saw her read some of her poems from i’m alive/it hurts/i love it. Her work made me believe in fate because I needed her work in my life right at that moment and how else would you explain that miracle?

Find her: On Twitter.


31. Dr. Eve Ewing

Who she is: Dr. Eve L. Ewing is a writer, scholar and artist from Chicago. Her first collection of poetry, essays and visual art, Electric Arches, was released by Haymarket Books last year, and she’s the co-editor of Beyond Ourselves, a fiction anthology of emerging writers of color. Ewing co-directs Crescendo Literary, is half of Echo Hotel with Hanif Abdurraqib, and is the current president of the Board of Directors at MASSLeap. She received her doctoral degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her numerous honors and awards include: 2011–16 Harvard University Presidential Scholar, 2017 Doing the Work Award from Being Black at School and 2017 Excellence in Literary Community Award from Chicago Independent Bookstore Alliance.

Why I love her: A month before Get Out premiered, Ewing published these poems in the Rumpus and I lost my mind. A poem where we’re in a horror movie, black people make it until the end, and black women are still the victim but victim turns revenge? I am about that shit. I am about pretty much everything Ewing has published. In one interview she also explains that Jordans are professional attire, up there with tuxedos, and that alone has solidified her place in my heart.

Find her: On Twitter.


32. Camonghne Felix

Who she is: Camonghne Felix is a poet, political strategist, media junkie and cultural worker with a master’s in arts politics from NYU and a MFA from Bard College. She is a Cave Canem fellow, Callaloo fellow and Poets’ House fellow and listed on Black Youth Project’s “Black Girl From The Future You Should Know.” Read two of her poems at PEN America.

Why I love her: I stumbled across Felix’s work when I was trying to convince myself that not going to college was an okay choice. Her two poems “The Therapist Asks 3” and “Killing the Form” both gave me affirmation that as long as my choices kept me alive and didn’t hurt anybody, they were definitely enough. I was enough.

Find her: On Twitter.


33. t’ai freedom ford

Who she is: t’ai freedom ford is a Cave Canem fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee, and high school English teacher. She won The Feminist Wire’s inaugural poetry contest judged by Evie Shockley in 2014. You can read poems and an interview with her at Brooklyn Poets.

Why I love her: I read how to get over sitting outside waiting for my barbershop to open. The shop is in a part of town that I don’t go to a lot – somewhere not as colorful as I’d like it to be, somewhere that makes me feel anxious and alone while I’m waiting for the store to open. Usually, as soon as I get inside, I can feel my shoulders relax around the familiar sounds of black joy and black critique and black family. Reading this book, I was able to tap into those feelings even before the barbershop opened. ford is unrelenting in her dissection and critique of queer black life. As a queer black woman, ford offers me a mirror, sure. But as a queer black woman who believes so firmly in her voice, her way of telling stories, and her right to be here, she offers me a guide to learning to do the same.


34. Aricka Foreman

Who she is: Aricka Foreman is a Cave Canem and Callaloo fellow. The enumerate editor for the Offing, she released her first chapbook, Dream with a Glass Chamber with YesYes Books in 2016. Read three of her poems, including “Consent Is a Labryinth of Yes,” in the James Franco Review.

Why I love her: In an interview with Luther Hughes, Foreman explains that Dream Within a Glass Chamber and the process of writing it was her “wanting a safe place to thrash and rage.” Foreman’s poetry gives me permission to examine and mourn and accept healing’s refusal to be linear or clean or understandable. But she also gives me room to figure out “how to let light in” and balance it with the whatever grief it touches.

Find her: On Twitter.


35. Vievee Francis

Who she is: Vievee Francis is an associate professor at Dartmouth College and associate editor for Callaloo. The author of three collections, Blue-Tail Fly, Horse in the Dark and Forest Primeval, her latest collection is the winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for poetry. Read her poem “Doubt” in the Raleigh Review.

Why I love her: I read “Taking It” in Muzzle magazine and it fucked me all the way up. The violence is dizzying but the survival is sharp and clear and those are stories I understand best. Francis’s writing doesn’t mirror; it pierces and opens.

Find her: On Callaloo’s site.


36. Siaara Freeman

Who she is: Creator of Wusgood.black, an artistic community and network focused on urban artists creating and sharing urban art and editor for Tinderbox, Siaara Freeman is a poet, slam team captain, and artist from Cleveland, Ohio. A Pushcart Prize nominee and proud Slytherin, you can preorder her book Good Morning, Hood Warning from H and O Press. Read Urban Girl Feeds Her Heart to the Birds from her Urban Girl Series in Tinderbox, or watch her perform one of her most famous poems, “The Drug Dealer’s Daughter,” at Button Poetry.

Why I love her: Siaara is one of my absolute favorite people on this planet. That thing about containing multitudes only made sense when I met Siaara. Her work weaves mythology, fantasy, grief, hope, and humor and all their intersections with a thread of truth. She “seeks whatever is good and true and honest and beautiful or devastating and or whatever gets them to sleep at night or whatever wakes them up that next morning” and with a compass like that, who better to follow?

Find her: On Twitter.


37. Jacqui Germain

Who she is: Jacqui Germain is a Callaloo fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee, organizer and essayist living in St. Louis, Missouri. Representor of Washington University in St. Louis at National Poetry Slam five separate times, she is the 2014 Katherine Dunham fellow and her book When the Ghosts Come Ashore is available from Button Poetry.

Why I love her: I read “Conjuring: A Lesson In Words And Ghosts” and everything stopped. A few months ago, a white boy I had just met put his hand in my new haircut and everything stopped. People kept talking and he kept sitting too close to me and there were still places we had to go and a person I had to be and conversations I had to participate in but that all fell away the moment he did that. Because later they talked about their fear of police as if I am not the one most likely to be a cop’s gun’s target. Because there are not people I can always get to in time, but this poem is early and on time. I don’t have to ask if anyone gets it, because this poem does, this poem sees me. Sometimes that’s enough.


38. Aracelis Girmay

Who she is: Aracelis Girmay is a Cave Canem fellow, 2011 National Endowment for the Arts fellow, and currently teaches at Hampshire College. She is the author three poetry collections — Teeth, Kingdom Animalia and The Black Maria — and a collage-based picture book, Changing, Changing. She is an Acentos board member and received the 2015 Whiting Award for Poetry.

Why I love her: I read “A Tending” after watching Fruitvale Station and going down that rabbit hole of anger and mixed conviction and hopelessness. I love Girmay’s work because she doesn’t just give you good art, she demands that you examine how you look at and create art too. Yes, she gives you lines that make your stomach fall to your knees. But she also asks you why it’s necessary your body respond like that, and after it does, what are you doing to do next?

Find her: On Twitter.


39. torrin a. greathouse

Who they are: torrin a. greathouse is a genderqueer trans womxn and mentally ill cripple-punk creating in Southern California. The co-founder and editor-in-chief of Black Napkin Press, greathouse is a columnist for ROAR and has a chapbook forthcoming from Damaged Goods Press entitled Therǝ is a Case That I Ɐm.

Why I love them: They created a new form called Burning Haibun, a series of erasures over an original piece. But “wind-chime aria [for four hands]” is what got me. It’s like following breadcrumbs through someone’s memory, only find the house you’ve been searching for is nothing but a pile of ashes. greathouse is succinct without losing musicality or power in their work. I’m excited for all the art they’ll share.

Find them:: On Twitter.


40. Tara Hardy

Who she is: Tara Hardy teaches at Seattle Central College and is a queer, femme, chronically ill writer. The founder of Bent, a writing institute for LGBGTQ writers in Seattle, Hardy is the author of two poetry collections, Bring Down the Chandeliers and My, My, My, My, My. Read and listen to “Bone Marrow” at Words For the Year.

Why I love her: I read a quote on Tumblr — “You don’t get to choose who handles your heart. There are simply people who were born with it in their teeth. When you meet them, it is best to build a bomb shelter.” — that lead me to Bring Down the Chandeliers. That book was one of the works that allowed me to understand that someone can abuse you and still be a person. That you can look for a monster but you will always end up with just a human who behaved monstrously.

Find her: On Facebook.


41. Joy Harjo

Who she is: Joy Harjo is a poet, activist, author, performer, professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign, and member of the Mvskoke Nation. She is the author of seven books of poetry, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, and winner of the William Carlos Williams award, among others. You can read her 2015 interview with Indian Country Today on being named the first Native poet to win the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets.

Why I love her: I read this line from How We Became Human on Tumblr: “I am asking you to leave the country of my body, my mind, if you / have anything other than honorable intentions.” and it was my mantra for a long time. Harjo’s work reminds me of something I too often forget, that there is so much more than I could ever know. Instead of cowering at that fact, I should grow in it.

Find her: On Facebook.


42. francine j. harris

Who she is: francine j. harris is a Cave Canem fellow, 2014 Boston Review Annual Poetry Contest winner, 2015 NEA fellow, and a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and PEN Open Book Award with her book, allegiance. She is currently the writer in residence at Washington University in St. Louis. You can read four of her poems including “Anise Swallowtail, Moulting” at PEN America.

Why I love her: Stevie Edwards’s amazing review of harris’ collection play dead explained that this book could help the reader become less monstrous. I love the way harris works with and plays against language. I love how she believes in “twerking language”. I love how her poem “enough food and a mom” makes me feel like I don’t understand at all but know my body does. I love how work like this helps me bridge that broken.

Find her: On Twitter.


43. Lydia Havens

Who they are: Lydia Havens is a poet, performer and editor. A Pushcart Prize and Best of Net nominee, they’re the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion and a 2017 Boise Poetry Slam team member and currently studying creative writing at Boise State University. They’re also the creator and editor of Sapphic Swan Zine, a zine for women and nonbinary people who love women. Read “Another Poem on Mourning and Suicide Attempts”.

Why I love them: I read “LESBIANFLIX” as I was coming down from one of those gay media binges and feeling overwhelmed that I wasn’t gay enough. This came at a time where I was still trying to untangle media that mirrored me as inevitable death (if I was reflected at all). This poem gave me solace in knowing I wasn’t alone in thinking there was something fucked up with this.

Find them: On Twitter.


44. Marwa Helal

Who she is: Marwa Helal is a poet and journalist. The 2016 winner of BOMB Magazine’s Biennial Poetry Contest, a Cave Canem fellow, Brooklyn Poets fellow and Poets’ House fellow, Helal was born in Al Mansurah, Egypt. She is the editor of the Poetry Projects newsletter, author of I AM MADE TO LEAVE I AM MADE TO RETURN, and a teacher in Brooklyn. You can read five poems in BOMB Magazine.

Why I love her: She created “the Arabic” poem form, which includes an Arabic letter with an Arabic footnote and an Arabic numeral, and must be read from right to left. A poem using the form, “poem to be read from left to right”, was published in Winter Tangerine’s Love Letters to Spooks series, and in her note when she refused to accept English as the dominant language (“As if it was a kind of weakness, nah.”) I knew I’d follow her and her work to the ends of the earth.

Find her: On Twitter.


45. Nancy Huang

Who she is: Nancy Huang grew up in America and China. She is a 2015 YoungArts fiction finalist, James F. Parker Award in poetry finalist, and winner of the Michigan Young Playwrights Festival. Her first book, Favorite Daughter was released through Write Bloody.

Why I love her: “The Ballad of Lily Magnolia.” I bought her first collection off of that poem alone.

Find her: On Twitter.


46. Tonya Ingram

Who she is: Tonya Ingram is a Pushcart Prize nominee; six-time poetry finalist; 2011 New York Knicks Poetry Slam Champion; co-founder of NYU’s Poetry Slam Team; and member of 2011 Urban Word-NYC team, 2015 Nuyorican Grand Slam team and 2015 Da Poetry Lounge Slam team. She is the author of Another Black Girl Miracle.

Why I love her: Ingram’s performance of “Unsolicited Advice (after Jeanann Verlee)” stuck with me for a long time. Stuck so long, it made sure to wait with me in the doctor’s office as I told them who tried to touch me and what my brain did wrong. Stuck so long, it made sure I stayed put instead of running again.

Find her: On Twitter.


47. Taylor Johnson

Who they are: Taylor Johnson is a Callaloo, Lambda Literary, Cave Canem, VONA, the Fine Arts Work Center, and Vermont Studio Center fellow from Washington, D.C. Read “The Transkid Explains Gentrification, Explains Themselves” in Split This Rock.

Why I love them: They are so giving in their art that they dig the most honest, necessary truths out of you while keeping you grounded. I wish I could learn from them all year-round. They are a marvel.


48. I.S. Jones

Who she is: I.S. Jones is staff writer at Dead End Hip Hop, reader at Voicemail Poems, poet, editor, grant-writing apprentice, and a Callaloo, Watering Hole, and BOAAT fellow. Read three of her poems including “Cain” in Matador Review.

Why I love her: These poems and interview from Puerto del Sol: Black Voices and the last lines of “Self-Portrait as Idola” absolutely gutted me. In the interview she says, “there was some distance I wanted from the outside world and the interior self. I didn’t want that name, a name I was still learning to wear, in the mouths of others.” That thinking feels like it gives me permission to look at my name and how I fit in it. It gives me space to really examine my whole self and how the world takes it. How I can act in a way that keeps my insides safe and keeping only for me.

Find her: On Twitter.


49. Britteney Black Rose Kapri

Who she is: Britteney Black Rose Kapri is a writer, educator, playwright, teaching artist, performance poet and petty enthusiast. A Teaching Artist Fellow at Young Chicago Authors, Kapri is a staff member and writer for Black Nerd Problems. A 2015 Rona Jaffe Writers Award Recipient, her chapbook Winona and Winthrop was published through New School Poetics. Her book Black Queer Hoe, is forthcoming from Haymarket Books. Read “We House: After Krista Franklin’s Definition of Funk” at the Poetry Foundation.

Why I love her: I’ve got this dream me that is my best self. They got all their shit together, contains multitudes, and bestows good love with the ones that fuck with them and they fuck with back. I am nowhere near that person yet but Kapri’s work gets me closer every time I read or listen to her. You know that meme I felt like shit but then remembered who the fuck I am? Kapri is that person to me. After listening to Gun Smoked, I looked her up because I wanted to learn how she says the stuff out loud that I don’t even want my own brain to hear. Kapri is one of the poets I’m in awe of the most. I am most thankful of the guiding line she shared earlier this year, amidst the seemingly endless (they’re endless) black murders. She wrote simply, powerfully: “Stop explaining your humanity to white people.” Everyday, I try my best to.

Find her: On Twitter.


50. Sarah Kay

Who she is: Sarah Kay is a New York poet, reader and educator. Founder and co-director of Project VOICE, she is the author of four books: No Matter The Wreckage, B, The Type and All Our Wild Wonder coming this March. Kay is a TED Conference speaker, Kundiman fellow, and has been writer-in-residence at Hedgebrook and artist-in-residence at Serenbe and Grace Cathedral. Read “They Give Him A Medal When His Parachute Fails To Open” in BOAAT.

Why I love her: I’m gonna be honest, Kay’s voice is one of the best gifts in this world and I love listening to her poems. “The Type”, is one of my favorite performances because she is deliberate and sure of her words and makes sure that you cannot mistake anything that she chooses to share. Her voice already calms my nerves in the most chaotic of times, but her words, those are the ones that keep my body still even when it’s keen on running.

Find her: On Twitter.


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51. Donika Kelly

Who she is: Donika Kelly is a Cave Canem fellow and winner of the 2015 Cave Canem Prize for her book Bestiary, which was also longlisted for the National Book Award and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. She is the assistant professor at St. Bonaventure where she teaches creative writing. Read “Self-Portait As a Door” at the Rumpus.

Why I love her: I was in the sunlit room of a public library I’ve only been to once, looking around as if I didn’t belong, in the city where I attach my adolescence, where I tried to bleach the black of me. I walked straight into the poetry section. In the middle of a book, I found “How to Be Alone,” a not-long poem about dogs and blackness and wounds and holding and truth and memory and a lot more besides that. It will overwhelm you in your need for it. There are lines that take forever to fit your mouth around, but each one sits in your ear pretty, though it does not want you to recognize it. This is the one that I’ve been saying over and over, the one I’ll keep in the locked fist of myself for a long time to come:

“Because she leaves.
And you are always your best.
And you are a fool.
Because you believe in reciprocity.
Because you are afraid of your own
hand. How could you have asked her to
stay?”

I’ve always been told that nature isn’t for us black girls, us black nbs, us black. This is one of the few poetry books that has me remembering the land and the animals and how the earth knew my name before any man decided to learn it. I’ve been fed Snow White as the only kind of person who can travel the earth, but Bestiary has me knowing I am the earth. It tells me that there is a responsibility in caring and trusting and listening to the dirt road and muddied lake and the many truths in this, in me.

Find her: On Twitter.


52. Kokumo Kinetic

Who she is: Kokumo Kinetic is a Black trans femme activist, performer, poet and entrepeneur. You can buy her 2017 Lambda Award Winner Reacquainted with Life here and read her work in Heartspark Press’s anthology, Resilience. Read Five Poems in Wanderer.

Why I love her: Kai Cheng Thom wrote about her earlier last year, and said Kinetic “holds a map to a new way of thinking, of living, of being as queers”. I learned this was true when I went to Capturing Fire later last year and saw Kinetic perform at Alchemy: Celebrating the Works of TGNC Authors, Hosted by Dane Edidi. Kinetic sang and spoke in the coffee shop with a presence that trembled. Her presence didn’t tremble from fear though, but from a power that I’m not sure the store could hold. Listening to her perform made me feel like something was changing in me, something was rearranging itself better just from the words she shared.

Find her: On Facebook.


53. Madeline Lessing

Who they are: Madeline Lessing is an avid Predictive Text Poet, 2017 FEMSlam competitor and part of “one of the purest memes” in Buzzfeed LGBT. You can watch them feature at Bowery Arts + Science.

Why I love them: They are adamant about talking about your feelings if safe enough to do so, about being safe, about staying safe, about being the best strongest messiest person you can be. They post at least five things every day that unlock the windows in my heart. They remind me to stick my head out those windows and call to the ones I love.

Find them: On Patreon.


54. Ada Limón

Who she is: Ada Limón is a freelance writer and faculty to the online program for Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, 24Pearl Street, and the Queens University of Charlotte Low-Residency MFA program. She is the author of four books; her most recent, Bright Dead Things, is a 2015 National Book Award in Poetry finalist, 2015 National Critics Circle Book Award finalist, Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award finalist, and named a top ten poetry books the year it was published by the New York Times. You can read an interview with her in the Adroit Journal and her poem “The Leash” at poets.org.

Why I love her: I read Bright Dead Things as my grandma was dying. I wanted to stop writing just like my grandma stopped remembering. If my grandma lost a part of herself, I felt like I needed to do the same. Limon’s work gave me space to grieve and hold on to even when I let everything else fall apart.

Find her: On Twitter.


55. Carrie Lorig

Who she is: Carrie Lorig is a poet and the author of The Book of Repulsive Women Five Increasing/Rhythms.

Why I love her: As a recommendation from Dalton Day, I picked up The Pulp vs. The Throne and absolutely loved it. It’s so strange and different from what I usually read and it gave me a new way of looking at everything. I reviewed it in Words Dance two years ago and this still holds true of her writing today: “You’ve got to go […] into it with a lot of trust. But that’s okay. It’s good practice for everything else.”

Find her: On Twitter.


56. Caseyrenee Lopez

Who they are: Caseyrenee Lopez is the founder and editor-in-chief of Crab Fat Magazine, the founder of Damaged Goods Press, and has been published in several books including QueerSexWords. Currently an adjunct professor at John Tyler Community College, their books i was born dead and the new gods are forthcoming from About Editions and Bottlecap Press, respectively. Read “making fire out of ice” in tap magazine.

Why I love them: They are unwavering in giving queer and trans people a room of their own. They give us a place where we can create and congregate. Then they elevate those voices, so that we are part of every conversation we’ve been excluded from.

Find them: On Twitter.


57. Nabila Lovelace

Who she is: Nabila Lovelace is a first-generation Queens native and her people are from Trinidad and Nigeria. She is the 2013 Poets & Writers Award winner, a 2014 Emerge-Be-Surface fellowship finalist, a 2016 Poetry Witch Magazine Summer Solstice Bop Contest finalist and a 2016 Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest finalist, a Callaloo fellow and the cofounder of the Conversation Literary Festival. Her debut book of poems, Son of Achilles, was released through YesYes Books. You can read and listen to two of her poems in the Adroit Journal.

Why I love her: Anything that makes me feel like I’m seen (not through dangerous eyes) is something I want to stay close to. Lovelace’s poem “CHOICES, AKA: ADVICE TO THE ABUSER & THE POEM” in Narrative Northeast is something like that. After hearing her read at an AWP off-site event, I stick close to anything she puts out.

Find her: On Twitter.


58. Melissa Lozada-Oliva

Who she is: Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a spoken word artist and educator. Currently pursuing her MFA from NYU, she is one half of chillona diaries with Tiffany Mallery and is the author of Plastic Pájaros and Peluda.

Why I love her: I read four of her poems in Freezeray Poetry and aside from being the absolute coolest person for writing a suite of poems inspired by/dedicated to one of the loves of my life, sonnet for letting you go aka the sandwich saved me has not let me known a moment’s peace since I’ve read it and I am thankful.

Find her: On Twitter.


59. Liv Mammone

Who she is: Liv Mammone is a poet, novelist, professor and MFA candidate. You can listen to her perform “For Christmas I Give My Grandmother a Prozac” in SlamFind.

Why I love her: I read her interview and poem with Brooklyn Poets and that poem knocked the wind out of me. I met her in person earlier this year at Capturing Fire and she performed a poem so strong, I was sure the earth was brought to its knees by the end of it.

Find her: On Twitter.


60. Dawn Lundy Martin

Who she is: Dawn Lundy Martin is a poet and activist. She cofounded Third Wave Foundation and Black Took Collective, co-edited The Fire This Time: Young Activists and the New Feminism with Vivien Labaton, and is the author of several books. She is an Academy of American Arts and Science’s May Sarton Prize for Poetry winner and Cave Canem Prize winner. Read “Violent Rooms” at the Poetry Foundation.

Why I love her: This book messed me up. The “you can’t judge a book by its cover” saying originates here, even extends to you can’t judge it by it’s inside either because even though the pages are simple, the feelings it produces are not. Like Juliana Spahr blurbs on the back of this book: “Life in a Box is a Pretty Life tells us there is no hope in the right now. But there is resistance.” There are works that dazzle with the promise and hope of change, but this is the book that comes to you demanding work. The kind that bloodies knuckles and scabs the face. It’s a book that demands you come here, real and ready, if you want to make it back out.

Find her: On Facebook.


61. Airea D. Matthews

Who she is: Airea D. Matthews is an assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College. Winner of the 2016 Yale Poetry Series Prize with simulacra, she was awarded the Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and won the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, both in 2016.

Why I love her: Her poems in the Rumpus are the only things that made sense to me after the 2016 election. They gave me hope but not the pretty shining thing with feathers. No, Matthews gave me a realistic hope, something I could hold to. A hope that knows we were always gonna have to fight our way to be free, and the election is just a reminder of that fact. Whenever Matthews shares her writing, I’m waiting for the whole world to stop ‘til she says carry on.

Find her: On Twitter.


62. Rachel McKibbens

Who she is: Rachel McKibbens is a Chicana poet, resistor and noise maker. She is the author of several books, the 2009 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, and co-curator of Poetry & Pie with Jacob Rokovan in the Spirit Room Rochester.

Why I love her: I printed and pasted her essay “The Ghost Daughter Speaks” and several quotes from her poems into this torn little black notebook I kept from 2012 until about 2016. That notebook kept me afloat ‘til I could get help. It saw me through every treatment team meeting and family therapy session until I was stable. McKibbens is one of the kindest, truest, most love filled people on this earth. This last line got me through intensive outpatient therapy. Look through my old art therapy pictures and you’ll see this quote at least ten times in the beginning. Before I even got the chance to know her, she was saving me. She hosts a retreat for nonbinary and women artists of color called Pink Door. I was fortunate enough to attend in 2015. When I say it will change your life, I don’t mean it lightly.

Find her: On Twitter.


63. Sarah Maria Medina

Who she is: Sarah Maria Medina is a poet and fiction and creative nonfiction writer from the American Northwest. Poetry editor for Winter Tangerine, Medina is the winner of the 2017 Black Warrior Review poetry contest for “From a Poet to Her Rumbero,” selected by Rachel McKibbens. Read two of her poems in Powder Keg.

Why I love her: Medina started a little group where we’d go back and forth editing each other’s poems. You’d think I got the better end of the deal because someone as wonderful as her was editing my work but surprise! both ends were the best because I got to see her magic in progress.

Find her: On Twitter.


64. Natasha T. Miller

Who she is: Natasha T. Miller is a Sinola brand culture ambassador, Kresge Artist Fellow and founder and owner of Artists Inn Detroit, a bed and breakfast and community hub that provides quality lodging for visiting artists and the opportunity for them to give back to their host community. She’s been featured in CNN, Vogue, and Sprite, and you can read her Pushcart-nominated poem “On Turning my Nephew into a Vegan” in the Offing.

Why I love her: I’ve always been afraid of coming out. Even though I’m out in a lot of spaces it’s still a constant fear. Being black and woman-read already feels like asking to be killed twice. Presenting butch just feels like I’m begging for it (even though it’s not true). When I heard “Coming Out” I was thrown for a loop because I didn’t think that anyone else noticed how quiet everyone was when people like me were murdered. When Miller says, “You were born a hate crime,” I understand what it means to be hooked. I feel that sharpness right in the center of my stomach pulling me even when I’m desperately running in the opposite direction.

Find her: On Twitter.


65. Angel Nafis

Who she is: Angel Nafis is a Cave Canem fellow, founder and creator of the Greenlight Bookstore Poetry Salon, and one half of the internationally touring poetry duo The Other Black Girl Collective with Morgan Parker. She’s the author of BlackGirl Mansion, and half of the Odes for You Tour with Shira Erlichman. She is a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg fellow and National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing fellow. You can read “Gravity” at the Poetry Foundation.

Why I love her: The first line of “Angel’s Heart Reasons With Her Dad” in Muzzle still has me all the way fucked up. It’s the whole reason I bought BlackGirl Mansion. The book didn’t disappoint; my copy is covered in scribbles and notes and exclamation points because it is everything I wish I could give to every past self.

Find her: On Twitter.


66. Noor Ibn Najam (F.K.A Noor Jaber)

Who he is: Noor Ibn Najam (F.K.A. Noor Jaber) is a Callaloo and Watering Hole fellow and Pink Door alumnus. His released his chapbook, Sovereign Ancestral last year. Read three of his poems in Drunk in a Midnight Choir.

Why I love him: I saw Noor perform earlier this year above a bar in a freezing room that I’m 99% sure had no wall on one side. I do not leave my house for much, but I made sure to get to this. Noor is enthusiastic and loving and smart as shit and all of that comes across in his writing. He talked about gender in such a way that night that it had me looking into a room of questions I keep locked from myself, for weeks. He is also an herbalist and tarot card reader and his teas have grounded me during some terrible episodes, so while you read his work, grab some tea, too.

Find him: On Twitter.


67. kiki nicole

Who they are: kiki nicole is a blk poet and artist from Baltimore, MD. A Pink Door alumnus, 2016 Voice is a Muscle Grant semi-finalist and 2017 spring cohort of Destiny Art’s Queer Emerging Residency, they released their chapbook BLK / STILL / LIFE earlier this year. Read two of their poems in Radar Production’s Glow: Queer Poetry Feature.

Why I love them: “Community means love and love means doing the work,” they explain in the Shade Journal. That is something I’ve been keeping close. I forget that while creating can often be solitary, that doesn’t mean it will work or even be good. We need others uplifting us and we need to make sure we do the same for them. Because of nicole, if I see someone I love doing their work, I don’t just let my heart swell with pride. I tell them about it, even if we don’t know each other that well. nicole has a way of digging right to the heart of what needs to be said, what needs to be shared. Their work experiments in a way I didn’t know black people could do. Their work is inspiration for creating and connecting with others as truthfully as possible.

Find them: On Twitter.


68. Emily O’Neill

Who she is: Emily O’Neill is a writer, artist and proud Jersey girl. She was the inaugural winner of the Pamet River Prize with her book Pelican, and is also the author of and Make a Fist and Tongue the Knuckles. She is the 2016 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Series winner. Read two of her poems in Anthropoid.

Why I love her: The line “Am I a child until someone kills me?” obliterated me. This poem, and every one of her poems, is unflinching in its honesty. Everything I’ve read by O’Neill is the greatest thing I’ve read and then, I turn the page.

Find her: On Twitter.


69. Precious Okoyomon

Who she is: Precious Okoyomon is a black poet and the author of Ajebota. Read one of her poems in Lambda Literary.

Why I love her: I read this interview Okoyomon had with the Creative Independent and it completely changed the game for me. Okoyomon explains that everything a writer writes and says is part of their collection of work. That an interview, a Facebook post, a tweet are all part of the writer’s legitimate writing never occurred to me. You always put these things in separate categories. I can’t quote a text message without it sounding self-centered and over-important. Okoyomon shows me that it’s all writing and creativity and there doesn’t have to be an imaginary boundary between personal and professional writing, that it may even be better if they bleed into one another.

Find her: On Twitter.


70. Angelique Palmer

Who she is: Angelique Palmer is a 2014 Pink Door alumnus, 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam finalist, and 2017 Beltway Poetry Slam member. She leads workshops, hosts and performs at open mics and features, and volunteers with spoken-word based charities. She’s also the author of The Chambermaid’s Style Guide from Sargent Press. Read read five of her poems, including “Drunk In A Midgnight Choir,” and listen to “Indicators” at Button Poetry.

Why I love her: Palmer is one of the most light- and love-filled people I’ve ever met. She’s the person I focused on when my anxiety was sky high at Capturing Fire this year. I wanted to clam up but she helped me speak. I met Angelique at Pink Door, for a moment, and all I can remember about how we got where we are now, is that she gives great hugs, and she encourages me to create my best, and to always show up.

Find her: On Twitter.


71. Morgan Parker

Who she is: One half of the Other Black Girl Collective, Morgan Parker is a Cave Canem fellow, 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship recipient, and Pushcart Prize winner. She is the creator and host of Reparations, Live! at the Ace Hotel in New York and co-hosts the Poets with Attitude series with Tommy Pico. She’s the author of Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night through Switchback Books and There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce through Tin House. Her third poetry collection, Magical Negro, is forthcoming from Tin House and her debut nonfiction book is forthcoming from One World.

Why I love her: I bought There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce the day it came out and got a physical copy of Lemonade, too, because I know how to live my best life.

Parker wrote an essay called “Love Poems Are Dead” that lowkey saved my life. I’ve written a lot of love poems, they’re all terrible, and I could never understand why. I thought there was something wrong with me (being black, being gay, being trauma, being) but could never hold that reasoning in place: if it’s because I’m black, why are my parents in love? If it’s because I’m gay, why is Ellen in love? If it’s because of my trauma then why does Celie get to love and be loved? None of it made sense until I read the last paragraph of this essay: “This is not a world for love poems. I wish it were. I wish my heart could feed a love poem, but this heart needs convincing to walk outside. I’d like to write a love poem someday, but I need to be taught how. I need to know I’m allowed, that I deserve it.”

Find her: On Twitter.


72. Xandria Phillips

Who they are: A Cave Canem and Callaloo fellow, Xandria Phillips is a poetry editor at Winter Tangerine and the curator of Winter Tangerine’s Love Letter to Spooks, a literary space for black people. The 2016 Seattle Review chapbook contest winner, her book, Reasons for Smoking, chosen by Claudia Rankine, is forthcoming in 2018. You can read and listen to “Thesarus Culture” in the Adroit Journal.

Why I love them: Xandria is a genius. Even though I had an inkling of Love Letters to Spooks, I wasn’t prepared for it to completely undo me. I read the spotlight within a week of its publication and I knew I needed to carry around everything Xandria creates when she explained in the editor’s note: “Not all grief is grace.”

Find her:: On Twitter.


73. Khadijah Queen

Who she is: Khadijah Queen is winner of the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women’s Performance Writing and her work has been staged at the Theaterlab by Fiona Templeton’s the Relationship theatre company. She’s the author of five books, is core faculty in poetry and playwriting for Regis University’s Mile-High MFA in creative writing, and is raising a teenager.

Why I love her: In a review of Queen’s most recent book, I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men and What I Had On, I wrote: “Queen gives a lesson that all black women need: you (and by extension, your story) are important, crucial, and absolutely necessary. Black women need to chronicle their lives, to keep it permanent, especially when the world really just doesn’t give a fuck about them. Queen doesn’t write about a life lived, she writes about herself still living.” I still need to remember this. I don’t think about my story in the dark of night, in the dark of, in the dark or I don’t think about myself until it’s in danger of being erased. Queen’s poetry demands I write my story while I’m still around to tell it.

Find her: On Twitter.


74. Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine, 2016 MacArthur Fellow, New York, New York, September 7, 2016

Who she is: Claudia Rankine is a poet, essayist, playwright and editor of several anthologies. She has received fellowships from Lannan Foundation, Guggenheim, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She is the author of three award-winning poetry collections, including Citizen: An American Lyric. Read and listen to “You Are in the Dark, in the Car” from Citizen at the Poetry Foundation.

Why I love her: I read Citizen in the mall parking garage while I waited for my dad to get a haircut. There had just been a shooting in the mall and I couldn’t make myself go in. I always feel unnecessarily paranoid after things like this happen. Citizen told me it was okay to feel this way, that I had good reason to stay put if it made me feel safe.


75. Linette Reeman

Who they are: Linette Reeman is an Aries from the Jersey Shore, a poet, educator and performer, Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, the winner of Sundog Lit’s Inaugural Collaboration Contest with torrin a. greathouse and a Brett Elizabeth Jenkins prize finalist. They are the author of several chapbooks. Read five of their poems in Vanilla Sex Magazine.

Why I love them: “facts about tigers” was the first poem I read by them, and it make me want to read everything they’ve ever written. They write a lot of poems with history and I was never a huge history buff (I tend to get stuck in the past, so I try to never go there). But their work has me looking up Marie Antoinette and Virginia Woolf and Alan Turing to make sure I got their stories right. Reeman turns a lot of what I know on its head, and I love that they give me the chance to look at things in new ways.


Next page for #76-#100

76. Jess Rizkallah

Who she is: Jess Rizkallah is a Lebanese-American writer, illustrator and founder and editor of Pizza Pi Press and Maps For Teeth. Winner of the 2017 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize for the magic my body becomes, Rizkallah has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and is a spoken word poet. Read her “Lyric Essay for Beirut” in NAILED.

Why I love her: I read where are we headed and it filled me with a sloshing sadness. Every time I thought I’d composed myself, I’d remember a line and some more sadness spilled out.

Find her: On Twitter.


77. Casey Rocheteau

Who they are: Casey Rocheteau is the winner of the inaugural Write A House permanent residency. A Cave Canem, Callaloo, and Bread Loaf’s Writers Conference fellow, Rocheteau is the author of Knocked Up On Yes through Sargent Press and The Dozen through Sibling Rivalry Press. They are the creator of a tarot deck and you can read and listen to “Topsy (direct) The Second of the Topsy Suite” at heART Journal.

Why I love them: Whenever I feel impossible, I can turn to their words and feel strong.

Find them: On Twitter.


78.Yesika Salgado

Who she is: Yesika Salgado is a Los Angeles-based Salvadoran poet. She’s a three-time member of Da Poetry Lounge Slam Team and 2017 National Poetry Slam finalist, and co-founder of Chingona Fire, a Latina feminist collective. She’s also the author of three zines of poetry — The Luna Poems, WOES, and Sentimental Boss Bitch — as well as Corazón. Watch “What Comes After Loving Yourself?”

Why I love her: I watched “How to Make Love to a Fat Girl” because I’m still not completely at home with my weight. This poem teaches me how to inhabit myself better, how to demand others do the same.

Find her: On Twitter.


79. Nicole Sealey

Who she is: Nicole Sealey is a Cave Canem, CantoMundo, MacDowell Colony and Poetry Project fellow, and the recipient of the 2014 Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize and the Poetry International Prize. Sealey received her MFA in creative writing from NYU and is executive director at Cave Canem Foundation, Inc. She is the author of two books, one of which won the 2015 Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize. Read and listen to “A Violence” in the New Yorker.

Why I love her: “Object Permanence” completely rearranged how I needed to live.

Find her: On Twitter.


80. venus selenite

Who xe are: Venus Selenite is a black queer genderfluid trans woman poet, writer, performance artist, sex worker, educator, witch, Crashpad star, teacher and advocate. Xe are an editor for Trans Women Writers Collective, on the leadership team of the Trans Women of Color Collective, and is a life and culture writer at the Tempest. A Pink Door fellow, Bettering American Poetry nominee, and Capturing Fire Slam finalist, vir book trigger is available now. Watch “Love Letter to Raven Symone” in LaTiDo DC.

Why I love xem: Ve wrote and shared vir poem during a Winter Tangerine workshop word war and it shook me so much, I immediately went to friend xem because I needed vir words in my life. Xe write with such confidence, clarity and urgency that everything from vir Twitter feed to slam stages, demands to be heard and internalized if we have any hope of getting better.

Find xem: Support vir 2018 residency.


81. Solmaz Sharif

Who she is: Solmaz Sharif is an Iranian-American poet. A Stegner fellow, she has received an NEA Fellowship and Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and is a 2016 Lannan Literary fellow and Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton university winner. Her debut collection, Look, is a 2016 National Book Award finalist and winner of the 2017 American Book Award and Pen Center USA Literary Award in Poetry. Read “Social Skills Training” in Buzzfeed.

Why I love her: Solmaz’s writing makes me feel like I’m completely submerged at the bottom end of the pool in the middle of summer, with my body afloat and the noise of the universe rushing in my ears.

Find her: On Twitter.


82. Jasmine Sierra

Who she is: Jasmine Sierra is a queer black poet and Oberlin College graduate. She is the author of two chapbooks, Paradox and Letters to Ghosts, and is currently working on her first full-length collection, Avoidant Personality. Read a poem and interview with her in the Shade Journal.

Why I love her: Her poem “She Say She Ain’t Never See A” is one of my favorite things ever. It’s one of those poems that you can hear the beats ricocheting in your head, even as you read silently. Those last lines would’ve gotten me through high school horror.

Find her: On Tumblr.


83. Danez Smith

Who they are: Danez Smith is a black, queer, poz poet and performer from St. Paul, Minnesota. A 2017 National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Poetry Foundation fellow and McKnight Foundation fellow, they are a member of the Dark Noise Collective and co-host of the podcast VS with Franny Choi. They are author of National Book Award finalist Don’t Call Us Dead, Kate Tufts Discovery Award winner and Lambda Literary Award for gay poetry [insert] boy; black movie; and winner of the 2015 Button Poetry Prize hands on your knees. Read “a poem: principles”.

Why I love them: “I tried, white people. I tried to love y’all.” is one of the infinite reasons I love Danez, because they center blackness. Make it a sun I can revolve around instead of an afterthought other people have spat at me. Smith creates and shares with grace, with family, with the only kind of love I’ve felt at sunday family dinners and cookouts and my loves sitting beside me, giving me the knowledge and comfort that, for at least this moment, they are here and they are safe.

Find them: On Twitter.


84. Tracy K. Smith

Who she is: Tracy K. Smith is the current U.S. poet laureate and highkey saved 2017 just by existing. She’s an American poet and educator who received her BA from Harvard University and her MFA from Columbia University, and is an Academy of American Poets and Stegner fellow. Every book she’s published has won a prize. She won the Cave Canem Prize for best first book by an African American poet for The Body’s Question, the James Laughlin Award and the Essence Literary Award for Duende, the Pulitzer for Poetry for Life On Mars, and her memoir Ordinary Light is a finalist for the National Book Award for nonfiction. She teaches creative writing at Princeton and her next collection, Wade in the Water, is forthcoming in 2018. Read “My God, It’s Full of Stars at the Poetry Foundation.

Why I love her: Smith is the first person that got me knowing that black people belong in all parts of the universe. She made me believe that, when Sagan said “we’re all made of star stuff,” we weren’t an asterisk; that black people are universe parts compact, and that even though we galaxy many, we can’t survive space alone.


85. Layli Long Soldier

Who she is: Layli Long Soldier is an editor of Drunken Boat, a poetry editor for Kore Press, and an Oglala Lakota poet artist and adjunct professor at Diné College. Author of 2017 National Book Award for Poetry finalist WHEREAS published by Graywolf Press, she is winner of 2015 Lannan Literary Award, 2015 National Artist Fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and 2016 Whiting Award. Read from WHEREAS at the Poetry Foundation.

Why I love her: Sometimes people say they can’t read poetry because of all the “flowery” language. That all the roundabout speak to say nothing keeps them from appreciating the art, or even seeing it as such. I read “One Poem (Mud City Journal)” and it feels as if Soldier is playing by the rules of those who refuse to understand poetry. She says that she’s going to write this poem in a short and to the point way that you will understand. You’d think this poem could be playing into a system that demands marginalized people to speak a certain way in order to be heard or understood. But as you read on, you realize Soldier subverts this belief, this expectation. Soldier’s poetry demands both attention and action.


86. Talin Tahajian

Who she is: Talin Tahajian is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, and the poetry editor for Big Lucks and the Adroit Journal. She is an MFA candidate at University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writer’s Program, and is author of three chapbooks and co-author of a split chapbook with Joshua Young. One of her books, Movie Star With Rainbow Snow Cone, was 2014 finalist in the Black River Chapbook Contest and finalist in the 2015 Write Bloody Chapbook Contest. She won second place in the 2017 Cosmonauts Avenue poetry prize judged by Eileen Myles. Her latest book, The Smallest Thing on Earth, is forthcoming from Bloom Chapbooks. Read “No Steeple” in Cosmonauts Avenue.

Why I love her: This poem feels like a secret I should only share with people I trust. All of Tahijan’s work leaves me gobsmacked.

Find her: On Twitter.


87. Naima Yael Tokunow

Who she is: Naima Yael Tokunow is a writer, editor and educator. She is the editor of the Black Voices series at Puerto Del Sol, and is currently editing a folio at Nat Brut Magazine that will focus on the work of neurodivergent womxn and femmes of color. Read two of her poems in DIAGRAM.

Why I love her: Tokunow showed me how all art intersects: That the poem doesn’t have to restrained to the poetic form. That theatre can make an appearance, or even take center stage. That if art can engage like that, what does that mean for people? Tokunow’s work sheds a light on the limitlessness we have and could share if only we are brave enough to claim it.

Find her: On Twitter.


88. Chrysanthemum Tran

Who she is: Chrysanthemum Tran is an emerging queer transfeminine Vietnamese-American poet and teaching artist. A Pink Door fellow, she became the first trans woman finalist at the Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2016, is a three-time finalist at the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational, and is the 2016 Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam champion. She coaches the Providence national slam team. Read four poems and an interview in the Blueshift Journal.

Why I love her: Tran’s work, especially “On (Not) Forgiving My Mother,” shows that even though others view our everything as irreparable messes, that does not mean that’s what we are. That we don’t have to make ourselves digestible for others to swallow.

Find her: On Twitter.


89. Crystal Valentine

Who she is: Crystal Valentine is a writer, activist and educator from the Bronx. The three-time Grand Slam Champion of NYU’s Poetry Slam and two-time winner of the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational, Valentine is 2015 NYC Youth Poet Laureate, 2016 Glamour College Woman of the Year, and ninth ranked woman poet of the world through Women of World Poetry Slam. She is the author of Not Everything Is A Eulogy. Watch “And The News Reporter Said Jesus Was White” in Button Poetry.

Why I love her: When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I asked on Facebook if there were any black women other people knew who also had it. Liv Mammone recommended Not Everything Is A Eulogy. I’d seen “Black Privilege” but didn’t make the connection ‘til I got the book. I love Valentine for making space for hope in a body that usually feels like it carries everything but.

Find her: On Twitter.


90. Elisabet Velasquez

Who she is: Elisabet Velasquez is a Puerto Rican writer, mother, performer and feminist from Bushwick, Brooklyn. A member of the 2009 Nuyorican National Slam Team, Velasquez has performed at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Princeton University and Main Stage at Amber Rose Slut Walk, among elsewhere. A VONA alumnus and 2017 Poets House fellow, she is the author of the chapbook PTSD. Read “To The Black and Brown Girls Who Go Missing Before They Go Missing” in the Huffington Post.

Why I love her: This essay gives me a much needed lesson in vulnerability, in remembering that I do not owe family my life just because they are family.

Find her: On Twitter.


91. Cat Vélez

Who they are: Cat Vélez is a nonbinary, queer Boricua poet from New Jersey. They’re a 2015 NPS semifinalist, 2015 CUPSI semifinalist, and 2016 CUPSI finalist. They are the 2015 Grand Slam Champion and IWPS Representative for Philadeliphia Fuze. Read And My Boricua Asked My Whiteness in Maps For Teeth.

Why I love them: On Learning To Forgive The Women In My Family is the poem that taught me that family is like being thrown on stage mid-scene after waking up. You have no idea where you are or what you’re supposed to be, but everyone is waiting on you to know your part immediately. This poem taught me that it’s okay that I’ve played too many shows to survive, that the other players on stage were probably just trying to survive too.

Find them: On Twitter.


92. Jeanann Verlee

Who she is: Jeanann Verlee is a former punk rocker and current poet, editor and activist. She is a six-time representative of NYC at the National Poetry Slam, winner of the Independent Publisher Book Award Silver Medal in poetry, and curates the Urbana Poetry Slam series at Bowery Poetry Club. She’s the author of Racing Hummingbirds and Said The Manic to the Muse, and her third collection, prey, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press. Listen to “Unsolicited Advice to Adolescent Girls with Crooked Teeth and Pink Hair.”

Why I love her: “Just because you fall in love with the river/doesn’t mean you must feed it your bones” is the line that made me fall for Verleeand want to stay close to every poem of hers ever since.

Find her: On Twitter.


93. Jen Wang

Who they are: Jen Wang is a poet, performer and educator. You can watch “This Is Water” in Button Poetry.

Why I love them: They are reason why I know what it means to reveal your heart on stage. They are also the reason I know you must carry your heart in your hand when you do. They teach me how not to give everything to anyone who asks, that not everyone deserves your energy and glory, and to not apologize that they could never behold you right.

Find them: On Twitter.


94. Sally Wen Mao

Who she is: Sally Wen Mao is a Kundiman, Hedgebrook, Saltonstall Foundation, and Cullman Center fellow. She received her MFA from Cornell University and teaches Asian American studies at Hunter College. She’s the author of Mad Honey Symposium, and her second collection, Oculus, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2019. Read read “Resurrection.”

Why I love her: These poems had me staring in awe after reading them.

Find her: On Twitter.


95. Rachel Wiley

Who she is: Rachel Wiley is a poet, performer and body-positive activist from Columbus, Ohio. Her first full length collection, Fat Girl Finishing School, was published by Timber Mouse Press. Nothing Is Okay is forthcoming. Read three of her poems in Drunk In A Midgnight Choir.

Why I love her: Wiley’s performance of “Glory in Two Parts,” especially the line “I am indeed glorious!” gave me permission to love the full church of my body even when everyone told me there are only parts to be proud of.

Find her: On Twitter.


96. Candace Williams

Who she is: Candace Williams is a progressive middle school humanities educator, poet, robotics coach and DnD master. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she is a 2017 Create Change fellow at the Laundromat Project, a Cave Canem fellow, and received her MA in elementary education from Stanford University. The winner of the TAR Chapbook series, her book, Spells for Black Wizards, will be published through Atlas Review in 2018. You can read “My Future Black/Certificate of Death” in Cosmonauts Avenue.

Why I love her: I can’t even put my finger on why I love this poem so much, but it makes me feel like I know John Henry. That he’s not a character or just someone who lived and was great and is now in history books. Williams creates an intimacy in her work that makes me feel like each poem talks to me from right across the kitchen table.

Find her: On Twitter.


97. Jane Wong

Who she is: Jane Wong is a Fulbright and Kundiman fellow. With a PhD in English from the University of Washington, she is the assistant professor of creative writing in at Western Washington University. She’s received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Squaw Valley, and the Fine Arts Work Center. She is the author of OVERPOUR. You can read two poems in Four Way Review.

Why I love her: I Put On My Fur Coat, winner of the 2016 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize, is one of those poems that sneaks up on you. It reminds me of how so much wild and danger and outside are able to hide in plain sight, sometimes aren’t even hiding until they realize they should be. I love this poem because it gave me new ideas about what to expect from poetry, that it can be as simple as telling me what you see in the room until the room becomes a mouth and swallows you up.

Find her: On Twitter.


98. Jamila Woods

Who she is: Jamila Woods is a singer and poet. An editor of The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic, alongside Mahoghany L. Browne and Idrissa Simmonds forthcoming from Haymarket Books, Woods’ work can be found in The End of Chiraq: The Literary Mixtape. Watch her Tiny Desk Concert and buy her album, HEAVN.

Why I love her: When Woods sang, “Yeah she scares the government, call it Deja Vu Tubman” alongside these images of black girl excellence in Blk Grl Soldier? I was like this is everything I want my life to be, and her album, HEAVN has been a map to becoming a better, more intentional me.

Find her: On Twitter.


99. goddess x

Who shey is: goddess x is a sad queer black transfemme poet, 2016 National Poetry Slam semi-finalist, 2016 and 2017 Capturing Fire performer, 2017 Beltway Poetry Slam Team member, and 2017 Capturing Fire and Pink Door alumnus. Heir debut collection was Blk Grl Sick: Tales From the Library Burned. You can read “Other Side of the Cage,” in Wusgood.

Why I love heir: I heard goddess x perform Boyat the Beltway Poetry Slam Qualifier and heir words and stage presence blew me away. This poem still makes me tear up just looking at it online, I was about to be a mess when I heard and saw heir perform it live.

Find heir: On Patreon.


100. Emily Jungmin Yoon

Who she is: Emily Jungmin Yoon is a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg fellow and Phd candidate at University of Chicago. Author of Ordinary Misfortunes, winner of the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize and A Cruelty Special To Our Species forthcoming from HarperCollins, Yoon is the Poetry Editor of The Margins at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Read Bell Theory in Poetry Foundation.

Why I love her: I read Say Grace and you know how sometimes something is so true it rings in your heart when you’re looking for yourself over and over again? That last sentence echoes in my bones, like it’s the only thing that will ever make sense when everything else refuses to.

Find her: On Twitter.


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Alexis Smithers (Lex Lee) is a black nonbinary person creating on the East Coast. They've volunteered for Winter Tangerine and currently are a Web Development Student at Bloc. A 2015 Pink Door Fellow & 2016 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer, you can find more of their work on their website and listen to them scream about poetry & other interests on Twitter.

Alexis has written 16 articles for us.

25 Comments

  1. Wow, this looks wonderful! Just a few weeks or so ago, I was talking with some friends in grad school about how alongside the research I am doing for my own academic project, which is focused on the 16th and 17th centuries, I have ended up reading a lot chicana literature, women poets of color, etc. to help keep my spirits up in these dark times and difficult spaces. That evening I suggested that we compile a sort of “survival syllabus” of all the people we have read in parallel to our regular projects. I am excited to see your take on a similar idea, Alexis (so much so that I am leaving this comment after only page 1), and to get to know some poets I haven’t read yet.

  2. This list is going to take me a while to get through!
    In the meantime, I thought I’d share this:
    I’ve been in love with this poem for a few weeks, now.
    It certainly gives grocery shopping a whole new meaning, and well it makes me want to hug her and hug myself,too.

  3. Although I am not a connoisseur of poetry, I would like to put Daphne Gottlieb on your (or anyone’s) radar. She came to my Women’s Studies class (way back in 2002) and read us her poems and I have been smitten ever since. Feminine Protection will forever be my favorite, although 15 Ways to Stay Alive is a close second.

      • Yaaaay! I basically stalked her throughout college, but she was very nice about it lol. BTW, if you ever read the short story Bette Williams wrote for Daphne’s book Fucking Daphne: Mostly True Stories and Fictions, the “small women’s college” where they met is my college, Mills, and I was at the reading that night. I feel semi-famous 🙂

          • Awww too bad you didn’t apply! We would have been in college together! They actually gave me a partial scholarship without me asking for it, almost a 50% reduction in tuition. It was still more than a UC or State, but having a guarantee of completing in 4 years (or less, like I was able to do) made up for it. They are actually going to be REDUCING tuition next year in order to make it more affordable. I love my alma mater 🙂

  4. This is EXTRAORDINARY thank you Alexis!!!

    PS Dear other readers, consider joining A+ if you haven’t! It starts at $2.50/mo. AS Staff are busy making killer content like this so that’s why I’m commenting about it 🙂

    • I love Tarfia Faizullah, 100 Bells is one of the poems that absolutely changed me. Just didn’t feel comfortable because I haven’t read enough of her books yet, and this is definitely more of a starter pack not a full list!

  5. Thank you so much for this! One of my goals for this year is to consume more healing media, and poetry is great for that probably because it’s one of the most instinctive art forms, so this is exactly what I’ve been looking for.

    I can’t see 26-50 and am not sure if the link’s not working or it’s just not working yet? If she’s not on the second part of your list, I would recommend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Her collection Bodymap focuses on her experiences as a disabled queer woman of colour and is so beautiful.

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