National Poetry Month: Uplifting verses from 11 strong female poets

April is National Poetry Month! To celebrate, here’s a set of graphics that showcase some of our favorite verses of poetry by strong women poets from around the world. 

Please add to our list by posting your favorite poem or poet in our comments section below. We would especially love more poems in other languages!

1. Dr. Maya Angelou (US)

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A woman of many talents, Dr. Maya Angelou is well known for her work as playwright and poet. She has been a trailblazer in the African American community and was deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Her poetry illuminates the human spirit and bridges the lines of race.

2. Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (Ireland)

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Photo credit: Liam Blake.
 

Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill is an Irish poet who has made a point to write only in Irish Gaelic. Her goal is to spark interest in and expand acceptance of Gaelic in the English speaking world. She’s one of the few women working to preserve the language and considers her poetic language decision an expression of female empowerment. (Above translation by Michael Hartford.)

3. Naomi Shihab Nye (US)

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Naomi Shihab Nye is the daughter of a Palestinian father and an American mother — a cultural background that informs much of her work. As one biography states, “Nye gives voice to her experience as an Arab-American through poems about heritage and peace that overflow with a humanitarian spirit.” Beautifully said. You can read full poem “Two Countries” here.

4. Luci Tapahonso (Navajo Nation)

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Tapahonso is the Navajo Nation’s first Poet Laureate. She performs and writes her work in both English and her native tongue while maintaining the Navajo pattern of speech. Her reading of “This is how they were placed for us,” in both languages, gives the listener a sense of how her artistry weaves together “old values and new ideas.”

5. Carol Ann Duffy (Scotland)

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Carol Ann Duffy was the first woman, first Scot, and first openly gay person to serve as Britain’s poet laureate. Listen to her read “DEMETER,” the final poem of her collection The World’s Wife; the collection retells myth and history from the viewpoints of the female figures and integrates experiences from the poet’s own life.

6. Gcina Mhlophe (South Africa)

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Photo credit: Story Sessions.
 

Gcina Mhlophe is an activist, poet, and storyteller from South Africa. Her work focuses on keeping the art of storytelling alive. We love her poem “Praise to Our Mothers”; it honors the women, known and unknown, who have stood up for what they believe in to make a better South Africa.

7. Donna Obaseki (Nigeria)

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Photo credit: WORD UP.
 

Donna Obaseki or Donna K, as she’s also known, is a spoken word poet from Nigeria. She’s been making a lot of noise in the spoken word scene and is well known for her passionate performances. You can see why when you watch her perform one her more popular poems “What Do You Wear?”

8. Kate Tempest (UK)

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Photo credit: Katherine Leedale.
 

Kate Tempest is a young, but already popular, English poet. She won the 2013 Ted Hughes Award for her work Brand New Ancients. Tempest is also a MC, and you can hear the influence of rap and hip-hop in her work. Her award-winning work borrows from the great myths and tragedies to uncover the extraordinary of ordinary lives. Watching her perform gave us goosebumps!

9. Senna (Peru)

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Photo credit: 10×10 Educate Girls, Change the World.
 

Senna is a young, aspiring poet from Peru, working to rise above the poverty plaguing her mining town. She was featured in the film Girl Rising beside other amazing young women. Her impassioned performance at the recent Women in the World event left us here at ONE with tears in our eyes. Check out her full poem “Father” here.

10. Marquesha Babers (US)

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Photo credit: Women in the World.
 

Marquesha Babers is from Watts, a rough neighborhood in Los Angeles, and grew up homeless for seven years of her childhood. Just like Senna, Marquesha uses poetry as a way to express herself in her harsh reality. In fact, Marquesha had a touching encounter with her inspiration, Senna, at a recent event! She has since graduated high school as a straight-A honors student and hopes to attend culinary school. You go girl!

11. Botlhale Boikanyo (South Africa)

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Photo credit: Facebook.
 

Eleven year old Botlhale Boikanyo won South Africa’s Got Talent in 2012. She outperformed the competition with her incredible spoken word performances. We especially love the one about Mandela. Her poetry is inspired by her mother who raised Botlhale alone and taught this fiery young girl to always believe in herself.

Share the name of your favorite poem or poet!

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