Five poems to read for National Poetry Month

Five poems to read for National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. Here are five poems from WashU-affiliated writers you can read to celebrate.

1. “Love Poem in the Black Field” by Ariana Benson. Benson is a current MFA student in the English department. In 2022 she won the Furious Flower Poetry Prize, and her book “Black Pastoral” won the 2022 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. "Through her writing, she strives to fashion vignettes of Blackness that speak to its infinite depth and richness," according to the Poetry Foundation.  

2. "The Head of a Dancer" by Mary Jo Bang. Bang, a professor of English and award-winning poet, included this poem in her book “A Doll for Throwing,” which uses poetry to “delve into the riches of the Bauhaus movement,” according to Abram Van Engen, chair and a professor of English. Listen to him talk about the poem on his popular podcast “Poetry for All” and view the photograph that inspired the poem.

3. “Very Many Hands” by Aaron Coleman. Coleman (MFA ’15, PhD ’21) is a Black poet, translator, and scholar of the African diaspora. He is the author the poetry collection “Threat Come Close” and the chapbook “St. Trigger.” His work and archives are currently on exhibit in the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections Reading Room of the Olin Library.

4. “The Other Side of Nowhere” by Andre Naffis-Sahely. Twice a year, the MFA program brings three writers — a poet, a fiction writer, and a nonfiction writer — to campus as visiting Hurst professors. The writers present their latest work, lecture on the craft of writing, and work one-on-one with MFA students. Earlier this month, Naffis-Sahely, an award-winning poet, editor, and translator, visited campus to share his poetry with MFA students.

5. “To Autumn” by Carl Phillips. Phillips, a professor of English and celebrated author of 13 collections of poetry, is known as one of America’s most influential lyric poets. Phillips' poem “To Autumn” was published in his collection “Then the War: And Selected Poems, 2007-2020.” You can also listen to Van Engen discuss it on his podcast.