Return to me a soft reply
On which I must with joy rely
Give me thy hand and then thy heart
Entirely mingled not to part
Relume the tapor near expired
Seeking a friend so long desired—
From “Acrostics” by George Moses Horton, 1844
George Moses Horton, born a slave in Northampton County, North Carolina around 1797, was the first African American to publish a book of poetry in the South. He gained fame in the Chapel Hill area for selling personalized love poems to students for 25 to 75 cents apiece.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Today, and truly the entire month of February, is all about matters of the heart. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, a parent or a pet owner (which is essentially the same thing), religious or spiritual, there’s no better feeling than to be loved by someone.
In a world so consumed by hatred and division, what we need more than anything right now is L-O-V-E.
So it’s only fitting that Black Poetry Writing Month 2017 be all about the L word. If you’ve never heard of Black Poetry Writing Month, as the name suggests, it is a month-long poetry writing challenge that focuses on subjects of race and the black experience in America and/or the African diaspora (past or present). I started this project a year ago and was so overjoyed by the enthusiasm and the participation of my fellow bloggers that I’ve decided to bring it back for another year, and hopefully for years to come.
This year, we’re going to do BlaPoWriMo a little differently. For the second half of February, I challenge you to pen a love poem a day—a black love poem, specifically. Your love poems can be romantic, familial, platonic, or religious. They can be about the love of oneself or of one’s heritage. The love or desire for freedom, literal or figurative. The love of blackness, whether that be skin tone, body image, or culture. The possibilities are as endless as love itself.
So if you participated in Black Poetry Writing Month last year, even if you only read the poems, or if this is your first time hearing about BlaPoWriMo, whatever the reason that brought you here today, I invite you to join the challenge. Write a “black” love poem each day for the next fortnight. Post it on your blog and tag it BlaPoWriMo. Link your poems back to this post in the comments section, or share on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #BlaPoWriMo. You don’t have to be black to join the challenge. Black Poetry Writing Month, like Black History Month, is a learning experience for everyone.
So learn with us!
Love with us!
Yes, even write with us!
Happy Black Poetry Writing Month!