African American Poetry

Shmoop's got the blues.

Sad truth: much of African American poetry started with slavery. A few slaves, tired after a long day's work, sat down and wrote some of the first poems in the African American tradition. This course follows slave narratives, songs, and traditions, as well as everything that came after—Black Power, double-consciousness, and simile, metaphor, and personification to boot. Poetry (plus, obviously, close reading) will be covered extensively in this fifteen-lesson Common-core aligned course, jam-packed with readings and activities.

In this course, we'll 

  • meet poetry VIPs who wrote through old-timey quill pens, oral traditions, typewriters, and slam poetry competitions. 
  • learn about American history and the African American experience through their allegories, metaphors, and allusions. 
  • try our hand at some poetry-writing and performing of our own. Not to give you preemptive stage fright or anything.

Sure, studying Shakespeare and Pound is fine...if you're into old white dudes. It's time to get a new poetic perspective with this course.

Unit Breakdown

  1. African American Poetry - African American Poetry

    In this standards-aligned poetry course, you'll survey African American poetry from its origins abroad and in the early colonies to contemporary works. You'll perform close readings, read informational texts, and make connections between African American history and its major works of poetry. By the time the course is through, you'll be not only a poetry lover, but a poetry creator—or, uh, as it's more frequently called, a "poet."

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