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October’s Stories and Poems – Black History Month

Written by Rachael Norris, 5th October 2021

To mark Black History Month, October’s selection of stories, extracts and poems showcase works from black authors from the 19th century to the present day.

In this month’s prose pieces we encounter young men and women making their way through adolescence, filled with excitement in living in the present as well as wondering about what the future will hold. The past is ever present for those both young and older characters too, with questions of identity, culture and history on both a personal level and a wider scale working their influence. For some, it seems like the past can never be escaped. Joys as well as fears are experienced as lives are lived, and hopes, sometimes fragile, are kept alive through the good and bad times.

October’s stories and extracts are:

‘Kojo’, from Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

‘On the bus’, from Brixton Rock by Alex Wheatle

‘Dune Dunelm’ by Irenosen Okojie

‘Beneath the pear tree’, from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

‘Where Tourists Don’t Go’ by Tiphanie Yanique

Identity is a significant theme in October’s poem choices, as we explore where our identities come from, as well as the world around us – from the small details like a grasshopper to the expanse of the Milky Way. What is it that we can take from what we see and how does it all add up in making us the people we are? We also get to ponder life from a bird’s perspective, another way of feeling connected to the bigger picture of the world at large.

‘From the Dark Tower’ by Countee Cullen

‘The Season of Phantasmal Peace’ by Derek Walcott

‘Coal’ by Audre Lorde

‘Where We End Up’ by Donika Kelly

‘The Dimensions of the Milky Way’ by Marilyn Nelson

If you're a Reader Leader head to the Online Community Hub to download this month's selection.

Throughout the month we’ll be making further recommendations of literature by black authors and poets throughout history – see the first four recommendations here.

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