• Get Involved! Hear what students and teachers have to say about Poetry Out Loud.

    Get Involved! Hear what students and teachers have to say about Poetry Out Loud.
  • Anita Norman Recites at Poets House Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge (photo by Arnie Adler)

    Anita Norman Recites at Poets House Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge (photo by Arnie Adler)
  • And introducing your 2014 POL Champs...

    And introducing your 2014 POL Champs...
  • Meet 2014 National Champ Anita Norman!

    Meet 2014 National Champ Anita Norman!
Melvin B. Tolson

Melvin B. Tolson

Anchored by the masterful long poem “Dark Symphony,” Melvin B. Tolson's Rendezvous with America (1944) surveyed the historical achievements of African Americans while detailing the challenges they continued to face. One of the first and most

The Birth of John Henry
by Melvin B. Tolson

The night John Henry is born an ax
            of lightning splits the sky,
and a hammer of thunder pounds the earth,
      and the eagles and panthers cry!

      John Henry—he says to his Ma and Pa:
            “Get a gallon of barleycorn.
      I want to start right, like a he-man child,