"It is difficult to get the news from poetry,
yet men and women die miserably every
day for lack of what is found there."
~William Carlos Williams
With the publication of Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral in 1773, Phillis Wheatley was vaulted into fame both in England and the U.S. colonies. Wheatley’s talent carved out a place for herself and other African American women poets and writers within the literary landscape. Phillis Wheatley was born in The Gambia in Africa and sold into slavery. She was brought to the states when she was 7 or 8. She has long been deemed the first African American poet. Jupiter Hammon was actually the first African American to publish a poem, but Wheatley was the definitely the first African American woman to publish a book of poems.
Phillis Wheatley led the way for modern day black female poets to speak their truths in words that enlighten, uplift, chastise and frame the world in a literary context.
This April, National Poetry Month, the African American Center honors Phillis Wheatley, and all the other glorious and insightful female poets that came after.
An Hymn To The Morning
The morn awakes, and wide extends her rays,
On ev'ry leaf the gentle zephyr plays;
Harmonious lays the feather'd race resume,
Dart the bright eye, and shake the painted plume.
Ye shady groves, your verdant gloom display
To shield your poet from the burning day:
TITLES FOR FURTHER READING:
Life and works of Phillis Wheatley : containing her complete poetical works, numerous letters, and a complete biography of this famous poet of a century and a half ago
The poems of Phillis Wheatley
My name is Phillis Wheatley : a story of slavery and freedom
After Mecca" : women poets and the Black Arts Movement
Black American women poets and dramatists [electronic resource]
American women poets
Color, sex & poetry : three women writers of the Harlem Renaissance
BRIEF LIST OF FEMALE POETS: