23 Resistance Poems to Express Your Rage

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Rebecca Renner

Staff Writer

Rebecca Renner is a writer and editor out of South Florida. Her essays have been featured in the Washington Post, New York Magazine, and Glamour. A seventh-generation Floridian, Rebecca's main area of study has been the ecology, culture, and downright weirdness of her home. When not reading, hiking, blogging, traveling, exploring, or playing with her dog Daisy Buchanan (and never sleeping!), Rebecca binge watches TV shows like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and plots world domination via Twitter. Twitter: @RebeccaRennerFL Blog:

The world has been in rising turmoil over the past few years. More people have been turning to poetry to better express their anger and frustration. Resistance poems capture the speaker’s rage at the modern world along with their desire to resist oppression. Many of these resistance poems, like Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus,” have been rallying cries at protests. Others have thousands of views and shares. The Langston Hughes poem at the beginning of this post was even printed in the New York Times.

*Content note: some of the embedded videos may contain expletives.*

Resistance Poems

Let America Be American Again” by Langston Hughes:

“O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.”

Read it in The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes.

9 Things I Would Like to Tell Every to Every Teenage Girl” by Melissa NewMan-Evans

“One, the world is trying to kill you. It is trying to do this by stealing your voice. Kill it back!”

I’m Explaining A Few Things,” by Pablo Neruda


and ever since then fire,
gunpowder ever since,
and ever since then blood
Bandits with airplanes and with Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars making blessings,
… kept coming from the sky to kill children,
and through the streets the blood of the children
ran simply, like children’s blood.

Read more in Neruda’s Spain in the Heart.

Protest” by Imani Cezanne

“My older brother’s really good at being older. He’s the kind of brown to girls write poems about…I called my brother today just because I could, because he’s still alive.”

I Feel Most Colored When I Am Thrown Against A Sharp White Background: An Elegy” by Morgan Parker

“I feel most colored when I am
the punch line. When I am the trigger.”

Read more in There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce.

Angry Black Woman” by Imani Cezanne

“So, ask me why I’m mad. I’m mad cuz I’m paying attention.”


“Young, I learned anyone born here could become
President. Older, I can point to any one of a hundred
reasons why this is a lie.”

Read more from Hayan Charara in his book Something Sinister.

An Open Letter to the Protesters Outside the Planned Parenthood” by Elizabeth Acevedo

“You don’t know my god. You and mine ain’t on speaking terms.”

Read more from Elizabeth Acevedo in her novel The Poet X.


“Because the Poor were sweaty and unpretty
(not like Two Dainty Negroes in Winnetka)
and they were coming toward him in rough ranks.
In seas. In windsweep. They were black and loud.
And not detainable. And not discreet.”

Read more poetry from Gwendolyn Brooks in A Street in Bronzeville.

“The Type” by Sarah Kay

Read more poetry by Sarah Kay in No Matter the Wreckage.

Tonight, In Oakland” by Danez Smith

“Tonight, the police

have turned to their God for forgiveness.
Tonight, we bury nothing, we serve a God

with no need for shovels, we serve a God
with a bad hip & a brother in prison.”

Read more of Danez Smith’s poetry in his National Book Award Finalist book Don’t Call Us Dead.

Angry Black Woman” by Porsha O.

When Rap Spoke Straight to God by Erica Dawson

“When Jeezy said        that Jesus said              the sky’s
our only limit, rap asked God who deferred
it to the dirt interred around the incus,
the anvil of the ear’s middle passage.”

This is a book-length poem, and y’all, it’s worth so much hype.

On Resistance for the Immigrant” by Bernard Ferguson

“The sharpest blade I have is where I place my body.”


“You can’t do it, I squeak from inside.
You can’t make me feel at home here
in this time of siege for me and mine, mi raza.
Legalized suspicion of my legitimacy
is now a permanent resident in my gut.”

Read more of Maria Melendez Kelson’s poetry in How Long She’ll Last in this World.

The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

Read more of Emma Lazarus’s poetry in The Poems of Emma Lazarus.

Not one more refugee death” by Emmy Pérez

“Today at the vigil, the native singer
said we are all connected
by water, la sangre de vida.”

Read more of Emmy Pérez’s poetry in With the River on Our Face.

A Poem by Mahogany L. Browne for Black & Brown Girls Gone Missing

“Ain’t no reliable narrator attached to her name. She is always ghost before ever considered missing.”

Read more of Mahogany L. Browne’s poetry in Black Girl Magic: A Poem.

Ghazal, After Ferguson” by Yusef Komunyakaa

“Somebody go & ask Biggie to orate
what’s going down in the streets.

No, an attitude is not a suicide note
written on walls around the streets.”

Read Yusef Komunyakaa’s Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994.

Accents” by Denice Frohman

Short Speech to My Friends” by Amiri Baraka

“Is power, the enemy? (Destroyer
of dawns, cool flesh of valentines, among
the radios, pauses, drunks
of the 19th century. I see it,
as any man’s single history. All the possible heroes
dead from heat exhaustion…”

Read more of Amiri Baraka’s poetry in Somebody Blew up America & Other Poems.

Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

Read more of Maya Angelou’s poetry in The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou.

woman shouting protest with megaphone ; text: 23 Resistance Poems to Express Your Rage

For even more resistance poems and other protest literature, check out these posts:

Feeling inspired for justice? Share links to your favorite resistance poems in the comments.