Black Poetry Day on October 17th honors past and present black poets. The day also commemorates the birth of the first published black poet in the United States. Jupiter Hammon was born in Long Island, New York, on October 17th, 1711. 

The day celebrates the importance of black heritage and literacy. It also recognizes the contributions made by black poets and shows appreciation to black authors.

Take up a quiet spot at the library to read many of the talented black poets from around the world. Or find a poetry reading at a nearby bookstore, cultural or arts center like the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University. The first center of its kind in the United States, The Furious Flower’s name is inspired by a poem written by former U.S. Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks. They also have a growing collection of resources, offer workshops and so much more.

HOW TO OBSERVE #BlackPoetryDay

Host a poetry slam in your living room, front step, or in the break room. Encourage a black poet you know. Attend a poetry reading or share your own poetry. Pick up some poetry written by black poets. Explore the poetry of Jessie Redmon Fauset, Robert Hayden, Wanda Phips or Arna Bontemps. As you celebrate, be sure to use #BlackPoetryDay to post on social media.


Black Poetry Day was established in 1985 honoring the birth of the first Black poet published in the United States, Jupiter Hammon. The poet is considered the father of African American Literature. Born into slavery, Hammon received an education, learned to read, and was allowed the use of the manor library.

Black Poetry FAQ

Q. Who are some notable Black poets?
A. Several Black poets come to mind. Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Terrance Hayes are just a few of the talented poets who express their spirit through poetry.

Q. Have there been Black Poet Laureates?
A. Yes. Robert Hayden was the first Black Poet Laureate (at the time the title was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress). Others include
Rita Dove, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Tracy K. Smith.