Poems About Democracy

The 19th Amendment & My Mama” by Mahogany L. Browne
I always took it for granted, the right to vote

I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone” by Rainer Maria Rilke
I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone enough...

Practice Standing Unleashed and Clean” by Patricia Smith
Hide the awkward jolt of jawline, the fluttering eye, that wide...

Today” by Matthew Zapruder
Justice Kennedy retired...

Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes
Let America be America again...

Pledge Allegiance” by Natalie Scenters-Zapico
I tap-tap-tap the window, while my mother smiles and mouths...

Old South Meeting House” by January Gill O'Neil
We draw breath from brick...

Election Year” by Richard Blanco
The last ghostly patch of snow slips away—

Let Them Not Say” by Jane Hirshfield
Let them not say:   we did not see it...

Calling on All Silent Minorities” by June Jordan
HEY...

At the Tomb of Napoleon Before the Elections in America—November, 1912” by Alan Seeger
I stood beside his sepulchre whose fame...

When the Orders Came” by Fatimah Asghar
they shipped us to the sanctuary camps...

On the Fifth Day” by Jane Hirshfield
On the fifth day...

Reparation” by Joshua Bennett
40 acres & a jewel-encrusted orchid crown...

How to Write a Poem in a Time of War” by Joy Harjo 
You can’t begin just anywhere. It’s a wreck...

America” by Robert Creeley
America, you ode for reality!

September 1, 1939” by W. H. Auden
I sit in one of the dives...

Ghazal: America the Beautiful” by Alicia Ostriker
Do you remember our earnestness our sincerity...

Never Again” by Pamela Sneed
At the end of every holocaust film I’ve seen and there...

When Fannie Lou Hamer Said” by Mahogany L. Browne
I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired... 

Frederick Douglass” by Robert Hayden
When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful... 

To America” by James Weldon Johnson
How would you have us, as we are?

Thoughts in Jail” by Katharine Rolston Fisher
Prisoners are we...

Sonnet to Liberty” by Oscar Wilde
Not that I love thy children, whose dull eyes...

One Vote” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
My parents are from countries...

 

Poems for Self-Care

I, Too” by Langston Hughes 
I, too, sing America...

Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is...

Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander
Each day we go about our business...

After the Election” by Sarah Messer
Moonlight slept quiet beneath the grandstand...

A House Called Tomorrow” by Alberto Ríos
You are not fifteen, or twelve, or seventeen—

You Are Who I Love” by Aracelis Girmay
You, selling roses out of a silver grocery cart...

The Republic of Poetry” by Martín Espada
In the republic of poetry...

Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history...

Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich
First having read the book of myths...

breathe we” by Juan Felipe Herrera
breathe for George Floyd we...

Praise” by Angelo Geter
Today I will praise...

Gate A-4” by Naomi Shihab Nye
Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning...

 

Video: Civic Responsibility of the Poet in America Today

The Civic Responsibility of the Poet

In this video, in which Chancellors Juan Felipe HerreraJane Hirshfield, and Naomi Shihab Nye discuss the civic responsibility of the poet, Hirshfield says, “When you’re asking what is the role of a poet in a society, in a culture, in a country, in a community, it is to respond in a way that only poetry can.”

civicvideo

More Resources

Poetry & Democracy: What Is It, Then, Between Us?
In March 2019, the Poetry Coalition launched “What Is It, Then, Between Us?: Poetry & Democracy." Read five poems written through the lens of each right guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: the freedoms of religion, speech, and the press, and the rights to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Poetry & Democracy: Khaled Mattawa on Whitman's Democratic Vistas
“In his essay Democratic Vistas (1871) Walt Whitman writes, 'Democracy... is a great word, whose history, I suppose, remains unwritten, because that history has yet to be enacted.'” 

Lesson Plans about Politics
This collection of lesson plans feature poems and activities related to politics, America, the election process, and important national issues.