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Poem Sampler

Poems of Protest, Resistance, and Empowerment

Why poetry is necessary and sought after during crises.

Pithy and powerful, poetry is a popular art form at protests and rallies. From the civil rights and women’s liberation movements to Black Lives Matter, poetry is commanding enough to gather crowds in a city square and compact enough to demand attention on social media. Speaking truth to power remains a crucial role of the poet in the face of political and media rhetoric designed to obscure, manipulate, or worse. The selection of poems below call out and talk back to the inhumane forces that threaten from above. They expose grim truths, raise consciousness, and build united fronts. Some insist, as Langston Hughes writes, “That all these walls oppression builds / Will have to go!” Others seek ways to actively “make peace,” as Denise Levertov implores, suggesting that “each act of living” might cultivate collective resistance. All rail against complacency and demonstrate why poetry is necessary and sought after in moments of political crisis.


I look at the world” by Langston Hughes 

Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou

Making Peace” by Denise Levertov 

Poem” by Muriel Rukeyser

Boy Breaking Glass” by Gwendolyn Brooks

“Bent to the Earth” by Blas Manuel de Luna

RIOT” by Gwendolyn Brooks

America” by Allen Ginsberg

America” by Claude McKay

"What Kind of Times are These” by Adrienne Rich

The Envoy of Mr. Cogito” by Zbignew Herbert

Tonight, in Oakland” by Danez Smith

What He Thought” by Heather McHugh

“lady liberty” by Tato Laviera

Vivas To Those Who Have Failed: The Paterson Silk Strike, 1913” by Martín Espada

“Urban Affection” by Emanuel Xavier

A Song for Soweto” by June Jordan

Usage” by Hayan Charara

Short Speech to My Friends” by Amiri Baraka

Rosa Parks” by Nikki Giovanni

If We Must Die” by Claude McKay

Dear Gaybashers” by Jill McDonough

“ICE Agents Storm My Porch” by Maria Melendez Kelson

We Lived Happily During the War” by Ilya Kaminsky

Ghazal, After Ferguson” by Yusef Komunyakaa

“You, If No One Else” by Tino Villanueva

Turnt” by Juliana Spahr

Beat! Beat! Drums!” by Walt Whitman

Staggerlee wonders” by James Baldwin

At the Bomb Testing Site” by William Stafford

where our protest sound” by Lenelle Moïse

Not one more refugee death” by Emmy Pérez

For My People” by Margaret Walker

London” by William Blake

Mind Core” by Juan Felipe Herrera

In the Middle of This Century” by Yehuda Amichai

Ways of Rebelling” by Nathalie Handal

Logic” by Alice Notley

To the Censorious Ones” by Anne Waldman

They Feed They Lion” by Philip Levine

The Sign in My Father’s Hands” by Martín Espada

At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border” by William Stafford

Apology for Apostasy?” by Etheridge Knight

America Politca Historia, in Spontaneity” by Gregory Corso

My Generation Reading the Newspaper” by Kenneth Patchen

For the Consideration of Poets” by Haki Madhubuti

In My Name” by David Roderick

Poem Sampler

Poems of Protest, Resistance, and Empowerment

Why poetry is necessary and sought after during crises.

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