February Is Black Poetry Writing Month!

We want a black poem. And a
Black World.
Let the world be a Black Poem
And Let All Black People Speak This Poem
Silently
or LOUD

From “Black Art” by Amiri Baraka

February is probably one of my favorite months on the calendar, and it’s not because it’s the most underappreciated month of the year due to its 28 days (29 in a leap year) or because it’s the month of love (quite frankly, I LOATHE Valentine’s Day), nor is it because it’s the month before my birthday (whoop, whoop)!

I love February because it’s Black History Month, and contrary to what people may say, Black History Month is a time for African Americans (and truly ALL Americans) to come together and remember how far we’ve come and how much further we still must go if we want to see real progress in the fight for racial equality.

During Black History Month, we learn about the brilliant Black artists, scientists, activists, philosophers, inventors, abolitionists, teachers, etc. who lead the fight to break the chains of chattel slavery and paved the way for all African Americans to be something greater— lawyers, doctors, CEOs, the President of the United States! It teaches young Black children in the hood and in the suburbs that no matter their circumstances or their background, oppression, discrimination, and prejudice will not hold them back from accomplishing their dreams.

Still, we rise! 

It would only make sense that a project like Black Poetry Writing Month would accompany Black History Month, as throughout history, poetry has played a major role in bringing the Black Experience to the forefront and in contributing to the advancement of the African American. Think of great poets like Phillis Wheatley, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, Maya Angelou, and so many others.

As an African American writer, I strive to be like the literary pioneers of the generations before me, which is why I’m so ecstatic to kick off a tradition that I hope will continue for years to come and one day be as popular as NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo.

Black Poetry Writing Month (BlaPoWriMo) is a challenge for writers to pen a poem a day during the month of February that focuses on race/Black Experience in America and/or the African diaspora (past or present). All are welcome to participate!

I’m excited to see the poems you create. I will also be sharing some of my own here on the blog. Use the tag BlaPoWriMo so I can find you in the WordPress reader, and if you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #BlaPoWriMo to get a retweet from me! You can also follow me on Twitter (@Nortina_Mariela) to get the latest updates and to read the contributions of fellow poets and writers.

Thank you to everyone who decides to participate. Let’s aim to get #BlaPoWriMo trending all month long!

—Nortina