Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014), the American author, actress, screenwriter, and civil rights activist, was also a prolific poet, publishing collections throughout her writing career. This selection of 10 celebrated poems by Maya Angelou is a sampling spanning nearly three decades of her prolific output.
Angelou is perhaps best known for her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It made literary history as the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman. But her poetry has also broken through academic circles, with poems like “Still I Rise” and “Phenomenal Woman” as part of American literary consciousness.
Marianne Moore (1887 – 1972) isn’t an easy poet to read or digest. Yet the patient and diligent reader will be amply rewarded. Here are 12 poems by Marianne Moore sampled from a long writing career that blossomed in the early 1920s and started even earlier than that.
Moore was a modernist poet who both influenced and was influenced by other modernist poets. In Marianne Moore: A Literary Life, biographer Charles Molesworth, attempted to sum up what made her the poet she came to be, not an easy task: Read More→
“Marriage” is a 1923 modernist poem by Marianne Moore that’s considered one of her most fascinating, yet challenging works. Requiring a great deal of insight to fully appreciate, it’s presented here in full, with links to two excellent and thorough analyses.
Marianne Moore (1887 – 1972 ) has stood the test of time as one of the pre-eminent American poets. Born in St. Louis, she graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1909, and had her first work published in Poetry magazine in 1915. Collected Poems (1951) won a Pulitzer Prize as well as the National Book Award. Read More→
2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the first and most important book by Lola Ridge,The Ghetto and Other Poems. In the epic-length title poem, the Irish-American poet known for her radicalism celebrated the Jewish immigrants of New York City’s Lower East Side.
Terese Svoboda, author of Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Radical Poet Lola Ridge (2018) wrote of her:
“A bigamist as well as an anarchist, Ridge left her son in an orphanage in L.A. soon after her arrival in the U.S., when she went to work for Emma Goldman and Margaret Sanger in New York. Ten years later, she protested Sacco and Vanzetti’s execution in Massachusetts, and faced down a rearing police horse.
Solo and broke in the next decade, she traveled to Baghdad and Mexico – and took a lover at sixty-one. Her five books of poetry contain poems about lynching, execution, race riots, and imprisonment.” Read More→
Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 – 2000) sustained a decades-long career as a poet, and was recognized with many honors, including the Pulitzer Prize, during her lifetime. Following is a sampling of poems by Gwendolyn Brooks, with links to analyses following each one.
This selection doesn’t claim to be the absolutely most representative of her poems, as that would be a tough call — so much of her work is part of the American literary canon.
Brooks’s poetic work included sonnets, ballads, and blues rhythm in free verse. She also created lyrical poems, some of which were book-length. Read More→