Good morning, Charleston, Shari here. Tomorrow is Black Poetry Day, a day meant to celebrate + appreciate the literary contributions of Black poets + authors.
You’ve probably heard of James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and my personal favorite – Langston Hughes. Or maybe you’re like me + have recently discovered Sonia Sanchez, after her poem Catch the Fire, was featured in an episode of HBO’s Lovecraft Country last weekend. Side note: who else is loving this show?
And as much as I love those poets, I feel so much pride when I learn about a local Black poet like Marcus Amaker. Marcus is also a musician and award-winning graphic designer, but I was most excited to learn that he is Charleston’s first Poet Laureate (an appointed poet, usually called upon to write poems for special events).
The position of Poet Laureate was established by City Council in 2016, and Marcus was chosen for the position about a month later. Mayor Tecklenburg said the position was established in Charleston to encourage the appreciation of poetry in the city.
He has written several collections of poetry, with The Birth of All Things being his most recent publication. Last year Marcus was named the artist-in-residence of the Gaillard Center – a position which he is using to mentor students through various workshops.
If you’re anything like me – then you know nothing says fall mood like picking up a book of poetry from a local bookstore like Turning Page Bookshop (the only Black female owned bookstore in SC) + heading to a park or beach for some time in this gorgeous October weather.
And don’t worry, once you get through Marcus’ work, there are still plenty of works by Black poets from South Carolina to read. My recommendations are Angelo Geter – Poet Laureate of Rock Hill, Drew Lanham – Poet Laureate of Edgefield, and Upstate poet mOody bLaCk.
I also highly recommend Nikki Finney, winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry. I met Nikki in 2017 + I smiled for a week. Reading poetry on your own is always lovely, but if you have the chance to get out + hear some poetry live, do it.