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The BreakBeat Poets, Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic

(BreakBeat Poets)

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  308 ratings  ·  48 reviews
A BreakBeat Poets anthology to celebrate and canonize the words of Black women across the diaspora.

Black Girl Magic continues and deepens the work of the first BreakBeat Poets anthology by focusing on some of the most exciting Black women writing today. This anthology breaks up the myth of hip-hop as a boys’ club, and asserts the truth that the cypher is a feminine form.
Paperback, 206 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Haymarket Books
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I remember when I first heard Sonia Sanchez speak - the cadence of her voice, the punctuated rhythms of her staccato verse. Like a full bodied wine, the flavor of her words lingered. My body hummed. Somehow she knew my story. She was a griot dispensing a herstory of resilience, defiance and strength. The black woman instead of being confined to one singular definition was appreciated as a diaspora of resplendent colors each owning her individual experience. I walked away that day feeling as if t ...more
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites
"We are the color pulsing beneath the closed eye, the tinge of a room
at moonfall, we are steady suspect since we share our hue with the night.
Because we are never seen clearly-consistently spied upon through
a safely distanced shroud-we diminished, trivialized, spoken of as stain.
We are the rollicking hips and the curious hair, the bristling oddity, the tangled
waft of shea and spiced oil, the throats that refuse to constrict. Everyone
has had a go at us, poking fervently at spaces in our spirit,
Jessica (Jess.Keep.Reading)
This year, poetry has led me on a thoughtful journey. I recently read this incredible anthology! A beautiful celebration of black women and their stories. I even had to screenshot and share several poems with my friends. That alone was a true sign of a collection that resonated, that lifted a voice to the experience of being a black woman and pure thankfulness to have come across it.
Also random fact: I was introduced to Jamila Woods’ music through the Black Girl in Om Spotify playlist. To know
Nadia A
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a celebration of Black women across the African diaspora, a testament to grown and young women owning their power, a space for the Black women who love hip hop and the Black women who have a complicated relationship with it. This book is an ever-flowing river filled with stories of their struggles, their hopes, their joys, what makes them magic, what makes them laugh, how they survive, how they thrive. These poems will stir you, show you mirrors, open doors and make homes in your bo ...more
Joy Messinger
[5 stars] A beautifully curated collection of poetry by Black cis and trans women and nonbinary folks. Poems on activism and identity and sex and sadness and joy and oppression and longing and life. Whether you devour it in one sitting or return to it one by one, invest in this volume and its celebration of Blackness, womanhood, and survival.
Alicia (PrettyBrownEyeReader)
A fabulous collection of poems that covers a wide range of topics Black Girls of all ages experience. Each section of the collection begins with a quote from a renowned poet/writer i.e. Sonia Sanchez, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston, Assata Shakur. The quotes set the tone of the section and the poems of the emerging poets align brilliantly. This is a collection for lovers of poetry and lovers of Black Girls.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everybody\ seriously, go read this.
Shelves: poetry

And I am woke.
And I am wounded.
And I am wilting.
And I am wandering.

~Finding Diaspora by Thiahera Nurse

oh. my. god.

This was beautiful.
It was honest, & it was sometimes brutal.
Some poems were hard to read.
Some gave my goosebumps, some made me cry.
Just... wow.

I've said this before and I'll probably say it again:
with poetry collections some you'll like, some you won't. It's sooo rare for me to love every poem in an anthology.
But this collection. Wow. I didn't absolutely love every one, but
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism, poetry
First and foremost, many thanks go to Haymarket Books for the review copy.

Overall this is a really solid collection. It's difficult reviewing collections - there will always be some pieces that speak to you more than others. All in all I'd say about a quarter of the poems absolutely blew me away, half were good, and a quarter didn't really resonate with me, which is a pretty good ratio. The thread running through the collection was cohesive, and each section had its own flavor while still playin
Brit Hollis
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
raw. passionate. real.
some poems are tear jerkers, all are thought provoking.
I heard some of the poets in the book share at the Schomburg and knew I had to have their live with me. Thank you for your work!
Favorites include;
Supremacy -Ariana Brown
micro - Britteney Black Rose Kapri
alleged (erasure) - Candice Iloh
Wading (Ode to an Almost First Kiss) -Alexa Patrick
N - Jamila Woods
This Poem for Sugar Hill, Harlem - JP Howard
Divination - Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton

This collection is special
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I went to read this book I knew that it was not written for me. I expected there to be a lot in these poems that I had not experienced and that I could not relate to. However I still wanted to read it because it would be sad to only read poems you could relate to. What I loved most about this anthology is that the topics and themes may be similar but each woman has her own voice. It felt like I was going through a cycle of emotions for each injustice. Anger, sadness, grief, hopelessness, an ...more
one of longest poetry books i've read. one of the most relatable to me. never once did i feel like i was just staring at the pages and turning them. i connected with this. also some of the poems being slam poems i can find on youtube definately helped. made it feel kind of interactive. i love that you can tell which poems are to be performed instead of just read based on them having a real rhythm. you know going into this i didn't expect it to be 300 pages long. i'm reading this on my kindle, it ...more
One of the most powerful poetry anthologies I’ve read. Browne and Simmons and Woods have put together a phenomenal collection of voices. As Patricia Smith says in her foreword, “These pages are not populated by a Black girl, not a single, all-encompassing icon, but all of us— spewing pointed curses from Brooklyn, Philly and Queens, DC and Kentucky, casting spells from the Chi and the City of Angels, chanting ritually from the ATL, Minneapolis, and pinpoints in the Caribbean. We are immigrant, di ...more
Leah Rachel von Essen
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Breakbeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic edited by Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmonds, and Jamila Woods is a fantastic collection of poetry. From Justice Ameer’s “My Beauty” to Lauren Whitehead’s “Outside my Harlem Window” to “Sonnet (47)” by Nikki Wallschlaeger, from Eve Ewing to Noname to Morgan Parker, there are so many fantastic poems in this collection. It’s a highly recommended reads.
Mar 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
Still don't feel like I can talk about poetry with any degree of expertise, but I really liked this anthology, thought all of the pieces were interesting and heavy-hittting, and overall enjoyed my time with it. Another great get from last year's Haymarket Books sale. ...more
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
well organized with a bunch of truly incredible poems! my favorites were “You Mean You Don’t Weep at the Nail Salon?” by Elizabeth Acevedo and “creation story after Safia Elhillo” by nonae
Eva Power
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It took me a very long time to read this collection and I guess I'm "done" because I've now read all the poems at least once, but I'm sure I will reread many of the pieces in here! ...more
Paul Swanson
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Open to any page and get smacked with truth, humor, wit, power, or horror.
Gushing with impressive moving voices. Pages of divinity.

You should read it aloud (I'm guessing most people are like me and do not read poetry aloud to themselves).

Camonghne Felix is so f'ing good; the bit below is just a tiny taste of her incredible piece. A video of her performance brought me to tears.

I enjoyed this more than the first volume of this series; I think that's because the collection, themes, and stylings
Jessica Mack
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-read-2018
This is a wonderful description and explanation if the various experiences of the human condition for black females. There were poems I related to as if they were memories or urgent cries. Then, there were others that described another life that I have not experienced in my brown skin. This is a perfect example of how black girls and women are not one generalization, but that they are different and varied, each one unique.
Reading this as a black woman reminded me that I am a person, as strange
Trina Y
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yes I have been reading this book for 9 months. Yes it has everything to do with depression and not the quality of the work. I actually feel like through the haze of my mental illness I wasn't able to fully appreciate all the poems...I plan to read through the author sections at the end and read each of their poems, to match faces to who I've been spending all this time with. I'm hoping finally finishing this signifies changes I'm starting to make. This is not really a review so sorry, I do thes ...more
Skincare For Introverts
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, favorites
A lot of gems in this book.


Eve L. Ewing - why you cannot touch my hair
Eboni Hogan - Cardi B Tells Me About Myself
Syreeta McFadden - Question and Answer. Or: Pirate Jenny Shit Talks With Her Employer
Comonghne Felix - Meat
Ariana Brown - Supremacy
Eve L. Ewing - what I mean when I say I’m sharpening my oyster knife
Venessa Marco - Patriarchy
Destiny Hemphill - shadowboxing, session one
Alexa Patrick - Wading (Ode to an Almost First Kiss)
Hiwot Adilow - Abandon
Mahogany L. Browne - Built for Disast
bianca guerrero
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
Would give it 3.5 if I could. I loved that it was organized by themes and that it included a wide variety of Black women of different ages. However, it didn’t particularly speak to or engage me, which was disappointing. I don’t know what I was expecting but I was left wanting more than what the book holds.I’ll probably return to this book to read again and change my perspective, not sure.
Gia Fondren
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
this is a book to refer to about poets in Chicago. i feel lost and out of touch. but its worth reading. lets me know things i cant relate with. ther are alot of very deep poems in this book. i know i didnt learn Chicago much after reading some. ITs a book to go back to for clarification and maybe speak with others in Chicago about other things besides work.
Grace Lindo
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
There's something about poetry written for you by people who look like you and are women. An enchanting collection for modern times.

"I want my daughters to feel that they have the power to at least try to change things, even in a world that resists change with more strength than they have. " Edwidge Danticat
Joshunda Sanders
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s so healing these days to read a book that is just for Black girls. That just centers us, is concerned with our healing and our joy and our memory and our beauty. I need to find Vol. 1. But yes. This is medicine and glory and love. Sisterhood and light. Do it.
Greg Adams
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beginning with the foreward by legendary poet Patricia Smith, this rich collection of Black female voices is an invaluable addition to the Breakbeat Poets series from Haymarket Books. The future belongs to Women of Color, and reading these astonishing poems will make you a believer!
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've discovered so many new (to me) poets by reading this book! I literally read it with a highlighter next to me so I could highlight the ones I particularly liked. Next stop, tracking down more of their work. ...more
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best poetry books I've ever read. The strongest pieces are at the beginning where I read them a couple times over a piece, but these are great throughout. Shout out to Crystal Valentine who I'd met in Kenya. Best poem in the durned book! ...more
Ronnie Stephens
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
*Review forthcoming when the book is released*
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Put away your cellphone. Cease twitter-twatter-stuffamajig. Pick up this book. Read aloud/out loud to family, friends, neighbors and strangers. You will thank me later.

**thanks buddy
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Open to any page in this book and let the poets take you on a journey that explores culture, love, womanhood, and race.
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