Help Us Stay Paywall-Free

We rely on readers to keep our website open to all. Help sustain a public space for collective reasoning and imagination—make a tax-deductible donation today.

April 01, 2021

Poetry Collection: Belonging

The first in our series of reading lists to celebrate National Poetry Month.

Editor’s Note: This is the first collection in Boston Review’s series of poetry reading lists for National Poetry Month. You can read the others on empathy, womanhood, and award-winning poets

Boston Review has long believed in the power of art to provide crucial insight into how individuals and communities process the most troubling moments in history. Poetry and fiction can offer a respite from the incessant crush of the news cycle, illuminating the humanity behind the statistics and the visceral impacts of structural inequality. While these poems inhabit different landscapes, all of these poets in some way grapple with the question of belonging—an ever-present but increasingly urgent question while the country remains in the grip of a world-historical pandemic and begins a new presidency.

Among the thought-provoking and moving work in this selection, we have celebrated author Kiese Laymon’s prose poem “And Blue,” which embodies Black love in the face of terror, and poet and academic Naomi Extra’s two poems which explore the meaning of safety within the female body. Elsewhere, writers consider the inheritance of pain, naming and generational loss, racialized violence and remembrance, and more.

—Meghana Mysore

Tyree Daye
this earth but in my ancestor’s tongue
this earth full of ravens’ calls
Kiese Laymon
Tomás Q. Morín
Sadia Hassan
Bryce Emley
K. Iver
Precious Arinze

Our weekly themed Reading Lists compile the best of Boston Review’s archive. Sign up for our newsletters to get them straight to your inbox before they appear online.

Boston Review is nonprofit and reader funded.

We believe in the power of collective reasoning and imagination to create a more just world. That’s why we’re committed to keeping our website free and open to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. But we can’t do it without the financial support of our readers.

Help sustain a public space for collective reasoning and imagination, without ads or paywalls:

Become a supporting reader today.

Get Our Newsletter

Sign up to get vital reading on politics, literature, and more sent straight to your inbox.

Donate Today

Most Recent

Lewis Gordon and Nathalie Etoke discuss the space for freedom opened up by Black existentialist thought.

Nathalie Etoke, Lewis Gordon

The post-work movement reckons with reproductive labor.

Rachel Fraser

Melvin Rogers and Neil Roberts discuss the difficulty of keeping faith in a foundationally anti-Black republic.

Melvin Rogers, Neil Roberts

We can't publish without your support.

For nearly 50 years, Boston Review has been a home for collective reasoning and imagination on behalf of a more just world.

But our future is never guaranteed. As a small, independent nonprofit, we have no endowment or single funder. We rely on contributions from readers like you to sustain our work.

If you appreciate what we publish and want to help ensure a future for the great writing and constructive debate that appears in our pages, please make a tax-deductible donation today.

"An indispensable pillar of the public sphere."

That’s what sociologist Alondra Nelson says of Boston Review. Independent and nonprofit, we believe in the power of collective reasoning and imagination to create a more just world.

That’s why there are no paywalls on our website, but we can’t do it without the support of our readers. Please make a tax-deductible donation to help us create a more inclusive and egalitarian public sphere—open to everyone, regardless of ability to pay.