AWE (A Woman’s Experience)


Kaitlin Hoelzer


black authors, black poetry, social injustice


Susa Young Gates Award Essay

First Place

Both historical and contemporary Black poets have used their work to identify, condemn, and suggest solutions to problems stemming from racism in American society. Indeed, as Arnold Rampersad notes in his introduction to The Oxford Anthology of African American Poetry, many Black poets use “poetry as a vehicle of protest against social injustice in America.” Art is inherently political, even when its arguments do not overtly engage in political debates. As Lorraine Hansberry argues, all art is rooted in a particular social and political consciousness. The choice is “not whether one will make a social statement in one’s work—but only what the statement will say.” According to these Black theorists, in order to fully understand any piece of art, readers must understand the social and political context of the work.