We are delighted to mark Black History Month with a selection of poems by Black poets with close links to England, Scotland, North America, the Caribbean and Africa. The poets include Nobel Prizewinners, poet laureates and performance artists, all reflecting in different ways on their individual experience.
We hope you enjoy the wonderful range, artistry and continued relevance of these poems, which over time have reached the three million daily travellers on London’s Underground system.
This new leaflet includes a selection of poems that have featured on London Underground since 2020, along with all the poems that were in our Black History Month Leaflet in 2020
You can find our Black History Month Leaflet here
Poems Celebrating Black History Month
My father, God bless his axe.
He grooved deep in pitch pine.
He spun his charm like bachelor galvanise
in hurricane. Once I saw him peep through
torrential rain like a saint at a killing.
And when the wind broke his cassava trees,
and the water overcame his eight-track machine,
and his clothes were swept away in the flood,
his Hail Mary fell upon a fortress of bone.
So he crossed his chest with appointed finger
and hissed a prayer in glossolalic verse.
He may grand-charge and growl but he woundeth not,
nor cursed the storm that Papa God send
to wash away the wish of him and every dream he built.
from Sonnets for Albert (Bloomsbury 2022)
POEMS ON THE UNDERGROUND
Black History Month
We are delighted to mark BHM with a selection
of poems by Black poets with close links to
England, Scotland, the United States, the
Caribbean and Africa. The poets include Nobel
Prizewinners, poet laureates and performance
artists, all reflecting in different ways on their
We hope readers will gain new insight into the
complexities of Black history from the poems
All the poems in this collection have been
featured on London tube trains, reaching an
estimated three million daily travellers in this
most international of cities.
We are grateful to Transport for London and
London Underground, Arts Council England and
the British Council for enabling us to produce
and distribute free copies of this leaflet.
We also thank authors and publishers for
permission to reprint the poems here and on
our website: www.poemsontheunderground.org
The Editors London 2023
Design by The Creative Practice
Published by Poems on the Underground
Registered at Companies House in England
and Wales No. 06844606 as
Community Interest Company
Poems on the Underground isn’t just a
programme that brings moments of reflection
to millions of Londoners annually – it’s a
programme that is experienced and enjoyed by
people who work for TfL
I love celebrations like Black History Month as
they are a great way to raise awareness and
continue your education about all aspects of
culture, arts and history. This is an important
and invaluable way to bring all of London’s
diverse communities together.
2023 marks the 75th anniversary year since the
Windrush Generation arrived from the
Caribbean to help rebuild Britain after World
War II. TfL, like so many other organisations in
London, has been shaped and transformed by
their fantastic contribution and achievements.
It is therefore a wonderful tribute that, during
Black History Month, their contribution is
celebrated in the poems in this leaflet. Featured
are the voices of Black poets from around the
world, with several new additions focusing
specifically on the Windrush experience.
While these poets write of their own
experiences, the feelings they evoke – of family,
of hope, of London – are ones which with many
of us, including myself, are familiar.
I hope that these poems help you think about
your own history and place within this bustling,
Winsome Hull, BEM
Senior Business Strategy Manager,
Transport for London