When you enter the world of writing, female writers make up the bulk of this domain. They quadruple their male counterparts in any form of literature, from fiction to nonfiction to freelance writing to poetry writing. Female English writers are everywhere! Particularly female poets, Their words and verses are affectionate and sweet to the tongue, and they often write love poems.
We have thousands of female poets in Nigeria and thousands more from the rest of the world, but there are those that distinguished themselves and became icons in the literary world and in real-life. They are the famous poets you are about to find out so much about.
Most of them have won awards both because of their beautiful write-ups and because of their numerous contributions to humanity.
Their literary works are often centred around activism, specifically feminism and the fight for female education. Other themes you will find in the poems of female poets are racism and female objectification. There are a lot of famous female poets we couldn't include in our lists such as Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Browning and Sylvia Path, not for lack of trying but because there are so many incredible famous female poets. Even more, than we can count.
Discover some of the most famous female Nigerian poets and other famous female poets from all over the planet. Read on to explore and know more about them and their writing life. Hopefully one day, it will get you inspired to write like them.
The Most Famous Women Poets
From legendary athletes to great black female activists of our time, we have them all. The first person on our list is a famous Nigerian poet and playwright.
Mabel Segun is an old matron in the literary world. She holds a strong position in the history of writing in Nigeria. She is a playwright, short stories writer, and a famous female Nigerian poet. Mabel Segun was born in Ondo City in 1930. She graduated from the University of Ibadan with a BA in English. She would go on to become a teacher and vice-principal amongst other things in her life.
Mabel’s work on children’s literature is at the top and one of the most prized literary pieces in the country. Her first book and novel My Father’s Daughter (1965) received much acclaim and was used as a textbook in many countries across the world. When asked why she wrote the book, she said it was because of the love she has for her father”. He was kind to her and she loved him so much.
Like many of her published works, her poems are usually children’s poems, fun to read and educative.
She was so dedicated to children literature that in 1978, she founded the Children’s Literary Association of Nigeria, and was also instrumental in creating the Children’s Documentation and Research Centre in 1990 in Ibadan.
The life of this poet is full of intrigue, and energy. Mabel Segun is someone you would describe as a “tomboy”. In an interview, she once recalled the story of how Niyi Osundare stole her bicycle, and wouldn’t return it for days. In that day and age, girls often have sewing machines and not bicycles, but our Mabel Segun knew how to ride, and she even PLAYED TABLE TENNIS!
Yes, you heard that right. Mabel was a veteran tennis player in the country. She got the title of the first woman in Nigeria to ever play table tennis and won trophies while she played against her male rivals. She was Nigeria’s First National Table Tennis Champion.
In her long and interesting life, she has won many awards and accolades. Mabel Segun lived a lifetime with the most famous Nigerian authors of our time, she was classmates with Chinua Achebe and grew up and was friends with Niyi Osundare and others. This sportswoman, broadcaster, writer, teacher, playwright, novelist, and poet, will always remain a pioneer of children’s literature in Nigeria and across Africa.
Titilope is an award-winning female Nigerian poet, an actress and writer from Lagos state. She is among the most famous female poets in Nigeria, well-known for her spoken word performances onstage and on YouTube.
In 2008, Titilope Sonuga graduated from the University of Alberta in Canada after studying Civil Engineering. She had a Bs.c in the course. But she was drawn to poetry and likes to perform them on stage. She noticed there weren’t many spoken word nights in Canada, so she created the Rogue Poetry, at Edmonton Canada where she lives. It is a weekly spoken word performance. She often performs there.
Titilope Sonuga’s poems are simple yet riveting, and they have a hint of an afro-centric feel about them. Her first collection ‘Down to Earth’ won the Canadian Author’s Association Emerging Writer Award. Compared to the others she is a relatively new author to the poetry scene.
Her other collections and books include; Mother Tongue, Abscess, and This is How We Disappear. The latter she wrote lamenting the disappearance of the Chibok girls.
Titilope Sonuga was the first poet to grace a Nigerian presidential inauguration ceremony with a poetry performance. She recited a poem at the inauguration ceremony of the President of Nigeria Muhammad Buhari in May 2015. She is an influential spoken word artist and was featured in a TEDx talk, you can watch the full talk here.
You may know her best as the famous black female poet who penned the poem, Phenomenal Woman. Maya Angelou is an African-American writer and poet.
She was born on 4th April 1928, in North Carolina, United States. She is, without doubt, the most famous female black poet in recent history, and one of the greatest contemporary poets of our time. Her most famous poems Phenomenal Woman and Still I Rise have become a legend, they are pieces of art idolized by millions of women and schoolgirls around the globe, many of whom can recite the poems from memory.
The poems are treated with the reverence of religious verses and have inspired generations of girls to become strong women in society. Maya Angelou always writes inspiring pieces, her new contemporary writing style makes it easy to read her poems.
You don’t have to be a poet or a British aristocrat to understand her poetry writing.
Maya Angelou studied acting and dancing in her youth and appeared in many major plays after that. Her skills earned her an Emmy Award Nomination and a Grammy Award. Those are some of the most prestigious awards in America pertaining to the film industry. In the poetry department, she won an NAACP Image Awards in outstanding literature work in nonfiction, and her poetry collection was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
She was a civil rights activist. As someone who grew up and witnessed the racial crisis first hand, she was determined to bring it to a stop.
To that end, she helped Malcolm X to create an organization called ‘Organization of Afro-American Unity’. Its main purpose is to fight racism.
Maya Angelou was a great actress and performer, an activist, an Emmy award nominee, a writer, a feminist, and one of the greatest woman of our time. Her influence even reached the US presidential white house.
In 1993 she wrote and recited a poem at the inauguration of the American President, Bill Clinton.
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. - Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou died on the morning of 28th May 2014, she was found that sad morning at her home in North Carolina. The former US president, Barrack Obama, once said that she is “a truly phenomenal woman”.
Have you ever heard of the Islamic revolutionary Usman Dan Fodio? Of course, you have, he is the subject of many history classes in Nigerian schools. Well, Nana Asma'u is his daughter.
And she happens to be a prominent poet among other things.
Nana Asma'u was born in 1793 and died in 1864 aged around 70 years old. She is a teacher and scholar just like her father, she is known to teach both men and women and people of other faith in her school. And was later to become an advisor in the court of her brother when he became the Caliph of Sokoto.
Nana Asma'u was very educated, she is a polyglot even. She spoke four languages and has studied ancient Latin and Greek texts. She also learned law and medicine.
When Nana Asma'u noticed that women in the caliphate are missing out on knowledge (usually because they don’t continue schooling after being married off), she created an organization called the Yan Taru. Their role in the newly formed caliphate was to travel to villages and other towns and spread knowledge to young women. It was a huge success. She taught most of the teachers herself, and they carried a book written by her as part of the curriculum.
Nana Asmau was an early advocate of female education and a widely renowned scholar, but she was best known as a famous poet. Her poems are often elegies, laments, and religious admonitions. She uses her poems as a teaching aid.
Nana Asmau was the only actual princess on our list.
From legends who were the first to win a table tennis championship to the first to perform at a presidential inauguration ceremony, we have seen that female poets are a force to be reckoned with.
Most of whom are full-time mothers of several children. Nana Asma'u had six children and Mabel Segun had a daughter who was an award-winning writer too.
Famous female poets have reshaped the world, their contributions in the fields of education, medicine, culture, etc., helped us enormously.