As April comes to a close, we mark National Poetry Month with a Readers’ Review of “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson. A memoir written in verse, the book received this year’s National Book Award for young people’s literature. It weaves together Woodson’s memories of a childhood split between North and South, city and country, the world of her Jehovah’s Witness upbringing, and her secular surroundings. The Civil Rights movement provides the backdrop to Woodson’s patchwork of images, offering readers a child’s perspective on what it means to grow up black in America.


  • Jamelle Bouie a staff writer on politics, policy, and race at Slate.
  • David Orr poetry columnist for the New York Times Book Review and author of "Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry."
  • Dana Williams professor of African American literature and chair of the English department at Howard University.

Reading List: National Poetry Month

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