poem index

Poems about Migration

Carnegie Hall’s Migrations: The Making of America Festival

From March 13 through April 15, 2019, the Academy of American Poets is sharing a curated selection of poems, audio, essays, and books that explore the topic of migration. This special online exhibit is part of Carnegie Hall’s Migrations: The Making of America Festival.

Featured Poems

Villagers” by Ari Banias
boxes taped up and up then tied with twine …

"Looking for the Gulf Motel" by Richard Blanco
There should be nothing here I don’t remember . . .

"Mother Country" by Richard Blanco
To love a country as if you’ve lost one: 1968...

"Migration" by Ana Božičević
I never want to get any ...

The Sound of One Immigrant Clapping” by Adrian Castro
Let’s say he actually …

First Light” by Chen Chen
I like to say we left at first light …

How I Got That Name” by Marilyn Chin
I am Marilyn Mei Ling Chin …

Cayucos” by Eduardo C. Corral
A girl asleep beneath a fishing net …

María de la Luz Knows How to Walk” by Juan Felipe Herrera
she ambles toward El Norte she remembers as she steps ...

The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame …

Immigrant Blues” by Li-Young Lee
People have been trying to kill me since I was born …

Leaving Seoul: 1953” by Walter K. Lew
We have to bury the urns …

Day of the Refugios” by Alberto Ríos
I was born in Nogales, Arizona …

Tenantry” by George Scarbrough
Always in transit …

Trailing Clouds of Glory” by Vijay Seshadri
Even though I’m an immigrant …

Migrant Earth” by Deema K. Shehabi
I could tell you that listening is made for the ashen sky …

"Deception Story" by Solmaz Sharif
Friends describe my DISPOSITION ...

Practice Standing Unleashed and Clean” by Patricia Smith
Hide the awkward jolt of jawline …

Another Country” by Ryan Teitman
The days unfold …

"Dear Exile," by Mai Der Vang
Never step back    Never a last ...

Self-Portrait as Exit Wounds” by Ocean Vuong
Instead, let it be the echo to every footstep …

browse more migration poems


For Teachers

Education Ambassador Richard Blanco, Educator in Residence Mady Holzer, and Harvard Professor Lisa New discuss Blanco's poem "Looking for the Gulf Motel" and how to teach it in the classroom.

Produced for Poetry in America for Teachers, a professional development course designed for K-12 educators and offered in partnership between Poetry in America and Harvard University.

learn more


Richard Blanco and Juan Felipe Herrera read their poems for the Incredible Bridges: Poets Creating Community series of lesson plans.

Lesson Plan: “Translation for Mamá” by Richard Blanco

Lesson Plan: “Everyday We Get More Illegal” by Juan Felipe Herrera


lesson plans about immigration

poems for kids about immigration

Featured Essays

Along the Border: On Mahmoud Darwish
Poet Fady Joudah discusses the journeying Mahmoud Darwish did in both his personal life and his writing life, and how his work changed and evolved throughout the course of his career.

Eileen Myles and Solmaz Sharif: A Conversation Across Generations
Myles and Sharif discuss Sharif’s debut collection, LOOK, their poet histories, and their approaches to their work in this interview.

Our People, Our Future: Richard Blanco in Conversation
The Academy of American Poets staff spoke with Richard Blanco in the days leading up to his delivering a poem at President Obama’s 2013 inauguration. In this interview, Blanco talks about identity, heritage, and being an inaugural poet.

Writing from the Absence: Voices of Hmong American Poets
We invited 2016 Walt Whitman winner Mai Der Vang to curate a five-part series that highlights a small community of Hmong American poets whose voices enrich and bring greater diversity to the literary landscape of this country.

Featured Audio

Lesvos” by Christopher Bakken

Los Angeles, Manila, Dà Nang” by Cathy Linh Che

We All Return to the Place Where We Were Born” by Oscar Gonzales

Migration” by Major Jackson

Ode to Richmond Hill” by Rajiv Mohabir

Business” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Care” by Craig Santos Perez

Peaches” by Adrienne Su

more audio poems

Featured Books

A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry
A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry

A Book of Luminous Things collects over 300 poems, each with a short commentary by the anthology’s editor, Czeslaw Milosz.
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The Horse Has Six Legs
The Horse Has Six Legs: An Anthology of Serbian Poetry

The poems collected in this anthology, edited and translated by Charles Simic, are a testament to the rich literary heritage of Serbia.
read more

Others Will Enter the Gates
Others Will Enter the Gates: Immigrant Poets on Poetry, Influences and Writing in America

This anthology, edited by Nigerian poet Abayomi Animashaun and featuring an introduction by Kazim Ali, includes the work of immigrant poets such as Zubair Ahmed, Kwame Dawes, Rigoberto González, Piotr Gwiazda, Fady Joudah, Ilya Kaminsky, Barbara Jane Reyes, Sun Yung Shin, and Ocean Vuong, among others.
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Our Table of Memories
Our Table of Memories: Food & Poetry of Spirit, Homeland & Tradition

This anthology pairs poems by English Language Learner students about their native foods with recipes by immigrant women working with Project Feast.
read more

The Poetry of Arab Women
The Poetry of Arab Women

This volume, edited by Nathalie Handal, showcases the work of over eighty accomplished and emerging Arab women poets.
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Unsettling America
Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry

An anthology of poems about heritage, culture, assimilation, and self-perception, Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry features work from a multicultural group of writers who recount their experiences with ethnic and national identity in modern-day America.
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Vintage Book of Contemporary International Poetry
The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry

Eighty poets and over two dozen languages from around the globe are represented in this deceptively portable volume, edited by J. D. McClatchy.
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The Veiled Suite
The Veiled Suite: The Collected Poems by Agha Shahid Ali

Collecting together the life work of Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali, The Veiled Suite allows readers to witness the poet’s transition from the direct narratives of his earliest work to the passionate and layered lyrics of his later collections.
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Bright Felon
Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities by Kazim Ali

The “lyric essays” in this book, part memoir and part travelogue, are deep investigations into the coming-of-age process.
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Afterland by Mai Der Vang

The 2016 winner of the Walt Whitman Award, Afterland tells the personal story of Vang’s family as well as the cultural story of the Hmong people and their exodus from Laos.
read more

Migration Resources

American Immigration Council
The American Immigration Council, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a powerful voice in promoting laws, policies, and attitudes that honor our proud history as a nation of immigrants.

Center for Migration Studies
The Center for Migration Studies of New York is a think tank and an educational instituted devoted to the study of international migration, to the promotion of understanding between immigrants and receiving communities, and to public policies that safeguard the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees, and newcomers.

Define American
Define American is a nonprofit media and culture organization that uses the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America.

International Organization for Migration
Established in 1951, the International Organization for Migration is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental partners.

Make the Road New York
Make the Road New York is a not-for-profit, membership-led organization the builds the power of Latino and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, and survival services.

New York Immigration Coalition
The New York Immigration Coalition aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all.

NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs promotes the wellbeing of immigrant communities in New York City.

Welcoming America
A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, Welcoming America supports the many diverse communities and partners who are leading efforts to make their communities more vibrant places for all.