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Photo of Eric Jerome Dickey receiving an award onstage.
Photo of Eric Jerome Dickey receiving an award onstage.
Eric Jerome Dickey. Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Everyone has an Eric Jerome Dickey story. Whether you read his books or not, you knew about every single one of them. You, your mama or grandmama or auntie or godmother had his books on the shelf. High up. So everyone could see the colorful bindings. His name often dominated the “African American section” of Barnes and Noble, back before Amazon existed and back when bookstores were a thing. His stories titillated, tantalized, and verbalized all that was beautiful and sometimes messy about Black women, our relationships, our families, and our friendships.

Dickey, a New York Times bestselling author and…

These suggestions honor the importance of literature in Islam

A photo of a Muslim mother reading a book to her two young boys.
A photo of a Muslim mother reading a book to her two young boys.
Photo: Maskot/Getty Images

Historically, Ramadan indicates when God revealed the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Allah sent an angel to tell the Prophet to “Read!” It’s also believed Shaytaan, the devil, is locked away. As Muslims, the month allows a heightened sense of awareness. We’re inclined to commit good deeds, pray more, and improve our mind and body.

Though we’re in isolation due to Covid-19, a beneficial way to honor this month is to gain more knowledge. Here are some books to serve as a gentle guide during this time.

A reading list that includes Nikki Giovanni, Lucille Clifton, Morgan Parker, and more

Photo: Marisa9/Getty Images

“Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language,” poet Lucille Clifton once said. In celebration of National Poetry Month, the editors of ZORA are highlighting poetic masterworks by Black women from the ZORA Canon that are contemplative, spirit-shifting, and healing. These books below prove that the power of poetry isn’t solely in the words. The power also lies in how it moves you.

Maud Martha

by Gwendolyn Brooks (1953)

Gwendolyn Brooks’ only novel, Maud Martha is a prose poem coming-of-age story about a girl growing up in the Black neighborhoods of Chicago.

Selected Poems

by Gwendolyn Brooks (1963)

A fine…

The 100 greatest books ever written by African American women

The ZORA Canon, our list of the 100 greatest books ever written by African American women, is one of a kind, yet it exists within a rich cultural tradition. As author and New York Times contributing opinion writer Kaitlyn Greenidge notes in “Why We Need to Acknowledge the African American Women’s Canon,” her insightful and moving introduction to the list, Black artists and cultural leaders have been compiling documents of this sort since the 1700s, first as part of an ongoing argument against White supremacy and slavery. Later, during Reconstruction, as a reminder to the newly literate Black population “that…

An appreciation by one of the many authors Toni Morrison inspired

Photo: Leonardo Cendamo/Getty

As soon as I read that Toni Morrison had left this plane, I went straight to my garden for comfort and balm, to take my grief to the Mother Spirits. I didn’t know if Morrison would be there, but I was sure the zinnias were still blooming. The moonflower vines were still reaching for the trellis. The compost pile was still hot in the middle. The tomato plants still bearing. It was right and proper that I headed there. It was Morrison, along with Zora Neale Hurston, who taught me the value and intelligence of nature in writing. …

As we mourn the loss of a literary legend, we also celebrate her life and the gifts she left us

Toni Morrison accepting the applause of partygoers Susan Taylor, Rita Dove, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, Maya Angelou & others. Photo: Will McIntyre/Getty Images

To our ZORA readers,

After last weekend’s devastating news cycle in which more than 30 people lost their lives at the hands of White supremacists, we certainly did not expect that we would be writing this letter to you about the sudden death of Toni Morrison. The timing seems divinely cruel that we would also find ourselves mourning the loss of a woman who taught us so much about the fullness of our lives here on this earth in spite of racism, xenophobia, and pure hatred.

ZORA senior editor Morgan Jerkins remembers listening to Morrison speak at Princeton in the…


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