Famous Black Poets

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
5
Birthdate: September 15, 1977
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Enugu, Nigeria

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer and feminist. She is popular for writing novels, such as Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun. She is credited with popularizing African literature among a new generation of readers, especially in the United States. In 2015, she was named in Time magazine's list of 100 Most Influential People.

 2 
Chinua Achebe
(Nigerian novelist)
Chinua Achebe
4
Birthdate: November 16, 1930
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ogidi, Nigeria Protectorate
Died: March 21, 2013

Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian poet, novelist, professor, and critic. Often described as Africa's greatest storyteller, Achebe is widely regarded as the father of modern African writing. He was the recipient of several awards and honors, including the Man Booker International Prize 2007. His novel Things Fall Apart is one of the most read books in Africa.

 3 
Gil Scott-Heron
(Poet and Singer-songwriter)
Gil Scott-Heron
4
Birthdate: April 1, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: May 27, 2011
 4 
James Avery
(Film actor)
James Avery
10
Birthdate: November 27, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Suffolk, Virginia, U.S.
Died: December 31, 2013
 5 
Ossie Davis
(Former actor who appeared in films with wife Ruby Dee)
Ossie Davis
4
Birthdate: December 18, 1917
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cogdell, Georgia, United States
Died: February 4, 2005
 6 
Phillis Wheatley
6
Birthdate: May 8, 1753
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: West Africa
Died: December 5, 1784
 7 
Chirlane McCray
(Writer, Social Activist)
Chirlane McCray
5
Birthdate: November 29, 1954
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States
 8 
Bernie Casey
4
Birthdate: June 8, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wyco, West Virginia, USA
Died: September 19, 2017
 9 
Amiri Baraka
(Writer)
Amiri Baraka
4
Birthdate: October 7, 1934
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Newark
Died: January 9, 2014
 10 
Ken Saro-Wiwa
(Nigerian Writer & Environmental Activist Who Led Nonviolent Campaigns Against Environmental Degradation)
Ken Saro-Wiwa
4
Birthdate: October 10, 1941
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bori, Nigeria
Died: November 10, 1995
Ken Saro-Wiwa was a Nigerian writer, environmental activist, and television producer. He is best remembered for leading nonviolent campaigns against environmental degradation of Ogoniland, home to the Ogoni people of Nigeria. Ken Saro-Wiwa's life and career inspired a couple of novels, namely The Other Side of Truth and Eclipse.  
 11 
Gwendolyn Brooks
5
Birthdate: June 7, 1917
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Topeka, Kansas
Died: December 3, 2000
Paul Laurence Dunbar
4
Birthdate: June 27, 1872
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio, United States
Died: February 9, 1906
 13 
Saul Williams
(Singer, Musician, Poet)
Saul Williams
4
Birthdate: February 29, 1972
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Newburgh, New York, USA
 14 
Claude McKay
(Writer)
Claude McKay
4
Birthdate: September 15, 1889
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Clarendon Parish
Died: May 22, 1948

Claude McKay was a poet who played an influential role in the Harlem Renaissance. Remembered for his work If We Must Die, a poem written in response to mob attacks on African-American communities by white Americans, McKay was named the national poet of Jamaica in 1977. For his contribution to literature, he was posthumously honored with the Order of Jamaica.

 15 
Nikki Giovanni
(Poet, Writer)
Nikki Giovanni
9
Birthdate: June 7, 1943
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Knoxville
 16 
Keorapetse Kgositsile
(Poet, Journalist, Political activist)
Keorapetse Kgositsile
11
Birthdate: September 19, 1938
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
Died: January 3, 2018

Keorapetse Kgositsile was a South African Tswana journalist, poet, and political activist. During the 1960s and 1970s, Kgositsile played an important role in the development of the African National Congress. Keorapetse Kgositsile helped bridge the gap between black poetry in the United States of America and African poetry. He was inaugurated as the nation's National Poet Laureate in 2006.

 17 
Louise Bennett-Coverley
(Jamaican Poet, Folklorist, Writer, and Educator)
Louise Bennett-Coverley
3
Birthdate: September 7, 1919
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kingston, Jamaica
Died: July 26, 2006
Louise Bennett-Coverley was a Jamaican poet, writer, folklorist, and educator. She is best remembered for her work to preserve the practice of presenting stories, folk songs, and poetry in the national language, patois. Louise Bennett-Coverley wrote and performed her poems in Creole, and established the validity of a local language like Jamaican Patois for literary expression. 
 18 
Aime Cesaire
4
Birthdate: June 26, 1913
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Basse-Pointe, Martinique, France
Died: April 17, 2008
 19 
Ben Okri
(Distinguished Nigerian Poet and Novelist Who Won Booker Prize for His Novel ‘The Famished Road’)
Ben Okri
3
Birthdate: March 15, 1959
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Minna, Nigeria

Distinguished Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri OBE FRSL is counted among the leading African authors in the post-modern and post-colonial traditions. His 1991 novel The Famished Road led him to become the youngest-ever winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Other notable works of Okri includes A Way of Being Free, A Time for New Dreams and Starbook.

 20 
Arlo Parks
(Singer-songwriter, Poet)
Arlo Parks
1
Birthdate: August 9, 2000
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England
 21 
Noname
(Rapper)
Noname
6
Birthdate: September 18, 1991
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
 22 
Countee Cullen
(American poet)
Countee Cullen
3
Birthdate: May 30, 1903
Sun Sign: Gemini
Died: January 9, 1946
 23 
Terry McMillan
(American author)
Terry McMillan
3
Birthdate: October 18, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Port Huron, Michigan, United States
 24 
Melvin Tolson
3
Birthdate: February 6, 1898
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moberly, Missouri, United States
Died: August 29, 1966
 25 
Akala
(Rapper)
Akala
6
Birthdate: December 1, 1983
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kentish Town, London, England
 26 
John Agard
(Playwright, Poet, Children's writer)
John Agard
4
Birthdate: June 21, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Georgetown, Guyana
 27 
Rita Dove
(Poet, Writer)
Rita Dove
3
Birthdate: August 28, 1952
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Akron
 28 
Ishmael Reed
3
Birthdate: February 22, 1938
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States
 29 
Natasha Trethewey
3
Birthdate: April 26, 1966
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gulfport, Mississippi, United States
 30 
Ernest J. Gaines
(Author, Educator)
Ernest J. Gaines
3
Birthdate: January 15, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oscar, Louisiana, United States
 31 
Tongayi Chirisa
3
Birthdate: August 8, 1981
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Harare, Zimbabwe
 32 
Frances Harper
3
Birthdate: September 24, 1825
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: February 22, 1911
 33 
Robert Hayden
(Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1976 to 1978, a role today known as US Poet Laureate.)
Robert Hayden
3
Birthdate: August 4, 1913
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died: February 25, 1980
 34 
Gabriel Okara
(Nigerian Novelist and Poet Who was the First Poet of Anglophone African Origin to Embrace Modernism)
Gabriel Okara
3
Birthdate: April 24, 1921
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Eastern Region, Nigeria
Died: March 25, 2019
Gabriel Okara was a Nigerian novelist and poet best remembered for his experimental novel, The Voice. Over the course of his career, Okara won several prestigious awards such as the Commonwealth Poetry Prize and the Nigeria Prize for Literature. Nicknamed the Nigerian Negritudist, Gabriel Okara was the first poet of Anglophone African origin to embrace modernism.
 35 
Linda Brown
(American campaigner for equality in education)
Linda Brown
3
Birthdate: February 20, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Topeka, Kansas, United States
Died: March 25, 2018
 36 
Jacqueline Woodson
0
Birthdate: February 12, 1963
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio, United States
 37 
Édouard Glissant
3
Birthdate: September 21, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sainte-Marie, Martinique
Died: February 3, 2011
 38 
Francis Bebey
3
Birthdate: July 15, 1929
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Douala, Cameroon
Died: May 28, 2001
 39 
Yusef Komunyakaa
3
Birthdate: April 29, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bogalusa, Louisiana
 40 
Oscar Cicero Brown, Jr.
(Singer-songwriter)
Oscar Cicero Brown, Jr.
3
Birthdate: October 10, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: May 29, 2005
 41 
Kamau Brathwaite
3
Birthdate: May 11, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bridgetown, Barbados
 42 
Rui de Noronha
(Poet and Journalist)
Rui de Noronha
4
Birthdate: October 28, 1909
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Maputo, Mozambique
Died: December 25, 1943

Rui de Noronha was a Mozambican poet best remembered as the forefather of modern Mozambican poetry. His dream of publishing a book of poems was never realized during his lifetime as he died at the age of 34. However, Dr. Domingos Reis Costa collected and revised 60 of his poems and published a posthumous edition titled Sonetos in 1946.

Alice Dunbar Nelson
3
Birthdate: July 19, 1875
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: September 18, 1935
 44 
June Jordan
3
Birthdate: July 9, 1936
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: June 14, 2002
 45 
David Diop
(French Poet Known for His Contribution to the Négritude Literary Movement)
David Diop
3
Birthdate: July 9, 1927
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France
Died: August 29, 1960

David Diop was a French West-African poet best remembered for his role in the Négritude literary movement. Diop's poems, which have been featured in popular magazines like Présence Africaine, are viewed as a criticism of colonialism. David Diop, who worked for the independence of Africa, died at the age of 33 in an air crash.

 46 
Dambudzo Marechera
3
Birthdate: June 4, 1952
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rusape, Zimbabwe
Died: August 18, 1987
 47 
J. P. Clark
(Nigerian Playwright and Poet Who is Counted Among Africa's Most Important Authors of All Time)
J. P. Clark
3
Birthdate: April 6, 1935
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kiagbodo, Nigeria
Died: October 13, 2020
J. P. Clark was a Nigerian playwright and poet. He is credited with founding the PEC Repertory Theatre alongside his wife Ebun Odutola. Counted among Africa's most important authors of all time, Clark won many prestigious awards including the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award. J. P. Clark also contributed as an editor of magazines like Black Orpheus. 
 48 
Ayi Kwei Armah
3
Birthdate: October 28, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Takoradi, Ghana
 49 
Grace Nichols
(She worked as a teacher and journalist in Guyana)
Grace Nichols
0
Birthdate: 1950 AD
Birthplace: Georgetown, Guyana
 50 
Christopher Okigbo
(Nigerian Poet Who is Considered One of the 20th Century's Major Modernist Writers)
Christopher Okigbo
3
Birthdate: August 16, 1932
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ojoto, Nigeria
Died: August 31, 1967
Christopher Okigbo was a Nigerian poet, librarian, and teacher. Today, he is regarded as an important postcolonial English-language African poet. He is also considered one of the 20th century's major modernist writers. Also an accomplished soldier, Christopher Okigbo was killed in action while fighting for the independence of Biafra.