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Abdul Ali
Abdul Ali

On Meeting Robert Hayden in a Dream

About this Poem 

“‘On Meeting Robert Hayden in a Dream’ is an homage to Robert Hayden, a giant of American and African American letters. When I first read his collection American Journal, I was immediately struck by his interest in ‘the other.’ I do not need to tell you how relevant his work is today. Are we not ‘aliens’ to each other? Are we not holding signs claiming that our lives matter? I believe now more than ever, Hayden’s work needs to be discussed as a pillar of American literature in the way that we talk about Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson.”
Abdul Ali

On Meeting Robert Hayden in a Dream

Abdul Ali

here among them  the dead  the others  the aliens
I see you without    coke bottle glasses   a wavy comb over 
your nose buried inside a notebook  over-

flowing with strange sightings   men and women
without a homeland   a library to shelve histories
dreams   the names of rare flowers  fruits  baby names

exiled from their villages   learning to say hello
with accents thick   with nostalgia   for their purple planets
here UFO sightings aren’t so spectacular

border crossing is quintessentially american  universal
crowds gather in squalid ghettoes where every country is a city
every city is a verse  & every verse echoes “Those Winter
     Sundays”

where a New World opens up where all the martians are
     welcome 
at the writing table with their fountain pens & swollen digits &
     you whispering

what took so long?
 

Copyright © 2015 by Abdul Ali. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 29, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Abdul Ali. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 29, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

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Lemon Andersen reads on the High Line as part of “After Sunset: Poetry Walk," New York City, 2015.
poem

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
Maya Angelou
1978
collection

Classic Books of American Poetry

This collection of books showcases the masterpieces of American poetry that have influenced—or promise to influence—generations of poets. Take a look.

Juan Felipe Herrera
collection

Juan Felipe Herrera: A Tribute

To celebrate Academy of American Poets Chancellor Juan Felipe Herrera's appointment in 2015 as the twenty-first Poet Laureate of the United States, we’ve compiled the following collection of photographs, essays, exclusive video, and poems.