National Poetry Month—Jamila Woods

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It’s the twenty-fifth year of National Poetry Month. We have been celebrating during the week with daily posts from NCTE Verse. Let the celebrations continue on the weekend!

Jamila Woods is a poet, singer/songwriter, and activist from Chicago, Illinois. She is a graduate of Brown University and serves as the Associate Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors. Woods is a Pushcart Prize–winning poet, and her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies. View her NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert.

The poems of Jamila Woods speak to the experiences of contemporary life, particularly concerning blackness and womanhood. She draws on a rich literary tradition, often evoking other poets explicitly in her writing and music. Her poetry speaks candidly about race, class, and gender, inviting the reader into intimate reflections while simultaneously challenging us to think critically about the role culture plays in the construction of our identities.

Jamila Woods’ inspirations are musical, literary, and place-based. Invite students to compare the works of Woods with some of those she has named as her inspirations, like Eartha Kitt, Miles Davis, and Octavia Butler. Woods writes about a neighborhood in Chicago. Look at her poem “beverly, huh.” alongside “Beverly Hills, Chicago” by Gwendolyn Brooks or “Knoxville, Tennessee” by Nikki Giovanni. Spend time looking at the natural connection between poetry and music, which is reminiscent of Jamila Woods herself.

It is the policy of NCTE in all publications, including the Literacy & NCTE blog, to provide a forum for the open discussion of ideas concerning the content and the teaching of English and the language arts. Publicity accorded to any particular point of view does not imply endorsement by the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, the staff, or the membership at large, except in announcements of policy, where such endorsement is clearly specified.

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