Broadside Poets, Part I


This section some of the chapbooks (booklets) and bound poetry collections that emerged from Broadside Press after the initial period, during the late nineteen sixties and early nineteen seventies.
The press was conceived as part of Randall’s wish to “bring poetry to the people.” In the process, he also brought new poets to the people. These included Haki R. Madhubuti (Don L. Lee), Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and Etheridge Knight. All of these young poets were leaders in the Black Arts Movement in the United States. Sanchez, Giovanni, and Madhubuti have enjoyed long, productive careers. Audre Lorde would go on to become the most important lesbian/womanist poet and activist.

During the late sixties, civil rights gains were increasing Black participation in American democracy. At the same time, there were massive protests against lingering inequality. In the midst of these struggles, Black Arts poets worked to forge a uniquely black aesthetic. Their work was often characterized by anger in the face of racism and celebration of African American culture. Black Arts poetry sought to aid African Americans in freeing themselves from the political, psychological and cultural effects of racism. Although individual poets differed in their concerns and techniques, many shared the goal of encouraging a new, liberated, Black consciousness.

Randall consistently included both younger and more established “voices” in the press’s offerings. Sterling A. Brown represents the venerable older generation of Black poets.

Additional items from exhibition:

Nikki Giovanni. Black Feeling, Black Talk. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1973.

Gwendolyn Brooks. Report from Part One. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1972.