April 20 Poet of the Day: Askia M. Toure

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Askia M. Toure, poet, activist, and a leading voice in The Black Arts Movement, is April 20 Poet of the Day.  Read more about this fascinating poet below.

Biography: http://biography.jrank.org/pages/2377/Tour-Askia.html

The History Makers: http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/askia-toure-41

Journal of Pan African Studies: http://www.jpanafrican.com/docs/vol5no7/5.67Askia.pdf

Videos: “A History of Civil Rights and the Black Arts Movement”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiTKQRfVu1Q; “Nubian Dawn: A Goddess Smiles”: https://vimeo.com/19921546; “Black Writers Museum”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyWFwuk1WUM; “Spit Fire Poetry Fest”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFwmsjiaHeU

April 19 Poet of the Day: Cheryl Clarke

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Cheryl Clarke, educator, poet, activist and more, is April 19 Poet of the Day.  Read about this fascinating feminist poet below.

Website: http://www.cherylclarkepoet.com/

Poets.org: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/cheryl-clarke

Encylopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2873400023.html

Videos: BlackPoetsSpeakOut: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQQ9jfpN-wA; “Queer Black Trouble (Kessler Lecture): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieLeQOjtkyw

April 17 Poet of the Day: Wanda Coleman

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Wanda Coleman, also known as the “L. A. Bluesman”, is April 17 Poet of the Day.  Read more about this fascinating poet below.

Poetry Foundation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/wanda-coleman

Poets.org: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/wanda-coleman

Poet Society of America: https://www.poetrysociety.org/psa/poetry/crossroads/qa_american_poetry/wanda_coleman/

Afro Poets: http://www.afropoets.net/wandacoleman.html

Videos: “Where I Live”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPJTI8WWI0E; “Wanda, Why Aren’t You Dead?”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALI-QlOU_ok; “My Car”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TF8G5qYP2UY; “Luvina Reading”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Izl8ktxEI6U Interviews: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eltV25FLh_Ihttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7wzNRf6mJs

April 16 Poet of the Day: Saul Williams

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 21:  Saul Williams performs during the "Stars In The Alley" concert at Shubert Alley on May 21, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)

April 16 Poet of the Day is Saul Williams.  He is a multitalented artist who incorporates poetry, music, and other talents to create his music and spoken word.  Read more about this multitalented artist below.

Website: http://saulwilliams.com/

Poets.org: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/saul-williams-dreadlocked-dervish-words

African American Literary Book Club: http://aalbc.com/authors/saul.htm

Videos: “List of Demands (Reparations)”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDMtaIcrfQ0; “Black Stacy”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRsgavuG4sg; “Amethyst Rock”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSR7H580e5U; “Explain My Heart”:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_vUmvAXaWc

April 14 Poet of the Day: Terrance Hayes

Terrance Hayes is my April 14 Poet of the Day. Read more about this poet below:

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Website: http://terrancehayes.com/

Poetry Foundation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/terrance-hayes

Poets.org: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/terrance-hayes

NPR: http://www.npr.org/2014/09/17/349272690/macarthur-fellow-terrance-hayes-poems-are-music-language-our-instrument

National Book Awards: http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2010_p_hayes.html#.VeKLE3vluEA

April 13 Poet of the Day: Anne Spencer

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My belated poet of the day posts are slowly but surely coming! April 13 Poet of the Day is Anne Spencer, a Harlem Renaissance poet.  More information about her is listed below:

Poetry Foundation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/anne-spencer

Modern American Poetry: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/s_z/spencer/spencer.htm

Afro Poets.Net: http://www.afropoets.net/annespencer.html

Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum: http://www.annespencermuseum.com/poetry.php

Poets.Org: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/anne-spencer

April 10 Poet of the Day: Kevin Young

Kevin Young, born in Lincoln, Nebraska, is April 10 Poet of the Day.  Read more about this award winning poet below.

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Website: http://kevinyoungpoetry.com/home.html

Poetry Foundation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/kevin-young

Poets.org: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/kevin-young

NPR: http://www.npr.org/2014/03/04/285712680/kevin-young-on-blues-poetry-and-laughing-to-keep-from-crying

PBS: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/poetryeverywhere/young.html

Youtube video: “Blending Music in Poetry”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ7s8xIp7dk

Poem “The Dry Spell”

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The Dry Spell

Kevin Young, 1970
Waking early
with the warming house
my grandmother knew what to do
taking care not to wake
Da Da 		she cooked up a storm
in darkness 	adding silent spices
and hot sauce

to stay cool. She ate later, alone
after the children had been gathered
and made to eat
her red eggs. Da Da rose
late, long after
the roosters had crowed
his name, clearing
an ashy throat
pulling on long
wooly underwear
to make him sweat

even more. The fields have gone
long enough without water
he liked to say, so can I
and when he returned
pounds heavier
from those thirsty fields
he was even cooler
losing each soaked
woolen skin
to the floor, dropping
naked rain in his
wife’s earthen arms.

From The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, edited by Nikky Finney. Copyright © 2007 by Kevin Young. Reprinted with permission of the University of Georgia Press.

April 8 Poet of the Day: Melvin B. Tolson

Melvin B. Tolson is April 8 Poet of the Day.  Read more about this poet, debtor, and politician below.

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Poetry Foundation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/melvin-b-tolson

Modern American Poetry: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/s_z/tolson/bio.htm

Black Past.org:  http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/tolson-melvin-b-1898-1966

NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17570617

Youtube videos: “Dark Symphony” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHD0cpFAMpM, “An Ex-Judge at the Bar” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAxGibPGtPc

A Song for Myself

By Melvin B. Tolson

                                                   I judge
                                               My soul
                                               Eagle
                                               Nor mole:
                                               A man
                                               Is what
                                               He saves
                                               From rot.
                                               The corn
                                               Will fat
                                               A hog
                                               Or rat:
                                               Are these
                                               Dry bones
                                               A hut’s
                                               Or throne’s?
                                               Who filled
                                               The moat
                                               ’Twixt sheep
                                               And goat?
                                               Let Death,
                                               The twin
                                               of Life,
                                               Slip in?
                                               Prophets
                                               Arise,
                                               Mask-hid,
                                               Unwise,
                                               Divide
                                               The earth
                                               By class
                                               and birth.
                                               Caesars
                                               Without,
                                               The People
                                               Shall rout;
                                               Caesars
                                               Within,
                                               Crush flat
                                               As tin.
                                               Who makes
                                               A noose
                                               Envies
                                               The goose.
                                               Who digs
                                               A pit
                                               Dices
                                               For it.
                                               Shall tears
                                               Be shed
                                               For those
                                               Whose bread
                                               Is thieved
                                               Headlong?
                                               Tears right
                                               No wrong.
                                               Prophets
                                               Shall teach
                                               The meek
                                               To reach.
                                               Leave not
                                               To God
                                               The boot
                                               And rod.
                                               The straight
                                               Lines curve?
                                               Failure
                                               Of nerve?
                                               Blind-spots
                                               Assail?
                                               Times have
                                               Their Braille.
                                               If hue
                                               Of skin
                                               Trademark
                                               A sin,
                                               Blame not
                                               The make
                                               For God’s
                                               Mistake.
                                               Since flesh
                                               And bone
                                               Turn dust
                                               And stone,
                                               With life
                                               So brief,
                                               Why add
                                               To grief?
                                               I sift
                                               The chaff
                                               From wheat
                                               and laugh.
                                               No curse
                                               Can stop
                                               The tick
                                               Of clock.
                                               Those who
                                               Wall in
                                               Themselves
                                               And grin
                                               Commit
                                               Incest
                                               And spawn
                                               A pest.
                                               What’s writ
                                               In vice
                                               Is writ
                                               In ice.
                                               The truth
                                               Is not
                                               Of fruits
                                               That rot.
                                               A sponge,
                                               The mind
                                               Soaks in
                                               The kind
                                               Of stuff
                                               That fate’s
                                               Milieu
                                               Dictates.
                                               Jesus,
                                               Mozart,
                                               Shakespeare,
                                               Descartes,
                                               Lenin,
                                               Chladni,
                                               Have lodged
                                               With me.
                                               I snatch
                                               From hooks
                                               The meat
                                               Of books.
                                               I seek
                                               Frontiers,
                                               Not worlds
                                               On biers.
                                               The snake
                                               Entoils
                                               The pig
                                               With coils.
                                               The pig’s
                                               Skewed wail
                                               Does not
                                               Prevail.
                                               Old men
                                               Grow worse
                                               With prayer
                                               Or curse:
                                               Their staffs
                                               Thwack youth
                                               Starved thin
                                               For truth.
                                               Today
                                               The Few
                                               Yield poets
                                               Their due;
                                               Tomorrow
                                               The Mass
                                               Judgment
                                               Shall pass.
                                               I harbor
                                               One fear
                                               If death
                                               Crouch near:
                                               Does my
                                               Creed span
                                               The Gulf
                                               Of Man?
                                               And when
                                               I go
                                               In calm
                                               Or blow
                                               From mice
                                               And men,
                                               Selah!
                                               What . . . then?

Melvin Tolson, “A Song for Myself” from Harlem Gallery and Other Poems of Melvin B. Tolson (Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1999)

Source: “Harlem Gallery” and Other Poems of Melvin B. Tolson (University Press of Virginia, 1999)

April is Poetry Month! Poem of the Day: Won’t You Celebrate With Me by Lucille Clifton

April is Poetry Month! Each day this month I will post a poem written by a person of color.  Today’s poem, by Lucille Clifton, comes from the Poetry Foundation.  This link also includes educator’s resources: discussion questions, writing ideas, and teacher tips.

Won’t You Celebrate With Me by Lucille Clifton: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/poem/181377