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Black Spoken Word Poetry You Should Listen To All Year

As we near the final days of Black History Month, let’s reflect on the joys of being the coolest, most creative, beautiful, resilient (I could go on forever) group of people to grace this earth. The work started by those who came before us is never done. And, just because it’s Black History Month, doesn’t mean the bigotry, ignorance, and hate will pause and resume in March. As I said, there is more work to be done and many conversations to be had. As Black History Month draws to a close, take a gander at a few of my favorite spoken word pieces by Black poets. Some will make you laugh, some will make you cry. 

This one will make you cry. Willis discusses the cycle of violence and death in the hood. He says he learned to not judge the way people grieve and the actions they take to cope and deal with the loss of loved ones. This is the reality for a lot of people, and although this poem doesn’t bring me any closer to feeling or truly understanding the type of pain he speaks about, it resonates with me. The first step to having empathy is listening.

This made me laugh and then full out bawl my eyes out. Holmon describes the otherworldliness of black women like one of his ex-girlfriends, Henrietta Lacks, and his late mother. It’s nice to see Black Girl Magic from the perspective of a loving son, ex-boyfriend, and all-around lover of black women.

It starts out hilariously and ends with a harsh truth that will resonate with women everywhere. I like this poem because you start listening and it sounds light but as it progresses the depth and seriousness of the subject matter morph. The biggest takeaway from this is violence against women can be caused not just by our actions, but by our words. 

Rudy Fransisco is one of my favorite poets. He never ceases to create poetry that moves me. Whether it be born from pain or a simple retelling of a story, his work gives me goosebumps. I highly recommend you to listen to his pieces and get a copy of his poetry book, Helium. I love this poem because it’s sweet. There is so much to unpack in the six minutes and thirty seconds of beauty that is this poem. I listen to it at least once a month and every time it feels like the very first.

As you have seen, these aren’t at all the lightest of pieces, but it’s mind-expanding to listen to the things that make us uncomfortable. There is always more room to learn and grow. Support Black creatives not just in February, but year-round. Happy Black History Month! Go in peace, go in power!

Zula Blair

U Conn '22

Zula Blair is a Sophomore Communication Major and WGSS Minor. In her free time, she likes to listen to spoken word poetry, spend time with her family and friends and rewatch old episodes of "The Game." One of her favorite quotes is from 1 Corinthians 13:4, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."
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