A biography written in free verse and concrete poems details the life and work of Harlem Renaissance sculptor Augusta Savage, best known for creating The Harp for the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
A singular verse novel set across a series of moments and minutes on a day in the summer of 2020 is comprised of three sentences, three “Breaths,” sharply observed and deeply felt, set against sophisticated collage illustrations.
Grimes focuses on women poets of the Harlem Renaissance to draw attention to these generally lesser known yet talented writers of that time, offering up a selection of poems that she in turns uses as inspiration for poems of her own.
“Black girl / you are more than magic / you are a miracle …” (from “Black Girl Miracle”). A collection of poems centered around Black female experience explores themes of racism, violence, body image, misogyny, but also, so importantly, self-love, sisterhood, strength, and the miracle of survival.
A pitch-perfect picture book about Gertrude Stein’s life in Paris focuses on her art collection, her writing, her famous Salon, and her relationship with Alice B. Toklas.
Lifelong litter picker upper Naomi Shihab Nye documents and reflects on the leavings of our existence in keenly observant, probing, unabashed poems.
“And somehow, one day, it’s just there / speckled black-and white, the paper / inside smelling like something I could fall right into, / live there — inside those clean white pages.” Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood unfolds in poems that beautifully reveal details of her early life and her slow but gradually certain understanding that words and stories and writing were essential to her. Her older sister was shining smart. One of her brothers could sing wonderfully. She would come to realize words were her smart, her singing, her special thing.
Kwame Alexander’s powerful ode, a celebration of African American survival, achievement, creativity, and resilience, is brimming with references to historical and contemporary people and cultural touchstones and incorporates direct quotes that speak to past (“we shall not be moved”) and present (”black lives matter”).
A compelling, present-tense narrative combines poems in teenage Jo Ann Allen’s voice with clippings from news stories and other contemporaneous documents from the 1956-57 school year, when she was one of the Clinton 12 who integrated the high school in Clinton, Tennessee.
“She conceived me. / I took shape like an infant, / not in her body, but in her heart, growing from her imagination / till I was bold enough to climb out of the page / and into your mind.” Frankenstein’s monster speaks the Prologue, but it’s Mary Shelley’s voice that cries out across fictionalized, first-person poems recounting her life from childhood up until shortly after writing Frankenstein when she was barely more than 20.