18 Inclusive Anthologies That Highlight Underrepresented Voices
These collections bring together diverse writers and artists for a more accurate reflection of the creative world
When I think of anthologies I always consider how The Black Poets, edited by Dudley Randall, is one of the first of its kind. This is a book that helped define and assemble generations. While The Black Poets doesn’t encompass every Black poet known today, it serves as a steady guide of those who came before us, the poetic devices they utilized, and the ways that rhyme and language were molded to describe life at the time. Anthologies have often been a reference tool (see Norton’s Best or the Best American series), yet often their core pages have not been inclusive or reflective for many of us in marginalized communities.
Collections compiled by and for marginalized identities have been a source for writers and artists to find space for their work, whether in creative writing, visual arts, or personal stories about their backgrounds. When I edited Everyday People: The Color of Life—A Short Story Anthology, I thought a lot about the role of an anthology and the way that an editor’s vision plays into how the work unfolds for readers. I didn’t want to think of this collection as an “issue book,” but more so a text that took into account the different methods of storytelling. I thought of, and referenced, a few all-Black anthologies that had spoken to and given Black artists a place to be themselves, to experiment, to have fun. I used that as my guide along with my own preferences for full-fledged stories where characters of color didn’t suffer and had agency. For many of us the search continues to find stories, whether they’re organized around theme or identity, illustrating our existence, an existence that is multifaceted.
As I see more anthologies publishing, I wanted to compile a list of those out both traditionally published and crowd-funded, that have made space for inclusive stories in all their glory and range. Here are 18 titles to get you started.
Habibi: A Muslim Love Story Anthology, edited by Hadeel al-Massari
This project got up and running on Kickstarter with full funding and beyond in 2017. The short fiction in Habibi range from the erotic to romantic comedy and LGBTQ couples putting Muslim characters center stage in their own love stories.
The BreakBeat Poets Volume 3: Halal If You Hear Me, edited by Fatimah Ashgar and Safia Elhillo
The Breakbeat Poets series from Haymarket Books has included work focusing on themes of identity (Black Girl Magic edited by Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmonds, and Jamila Woods) as well as musical influences (New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop edited by Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana, and Nate Marshall). This edition celebrates the multiplicity of Muslim identities through poetry.
Daughters of Africa and New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing By Women of African Descent, edited by Margaret Busby
New Daughters of Africa was recently published in America by Amistad and in the U.K. earlier and features over 200 artists ranging from those born 200 years ago to those born in the 1990s. This is an updated edition to Busby’s hefty Daughters of Africa originally published in 1992 with snippets of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The new edition includes more contemporary voices such as Nana Brew-Hammond, Jesmyn Ward, and Namwali Serpell to name a few. Both editions include excerpts from icons such as Maya Angelou, Toni Cade Bambara, and Audre Lorde.
Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food and Love, edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond
As the title proclaims, this new young adult anthology combines food and love, in some instances through romance and others through an actual love of food that brings characters together or to a firmer understanding of their background. An array of POC authors contribute their fiction to an anthology which may also boast an appetite.
New Poets of Native Nations, edited by Heid E. Erdrich
Twenty-one Indigenous poets of varying styles and tribal affiliations are showcased in Erdrich’s anthology from Graywolf Press. From National Book Award finalist Layli Long Soldier to MacArthur Fellow Natalie Diaz, readers are treated to thought-provoking and experimental work of some of the most captivating poets of our time.
Can We All Be Feminists? Writing from Brit Bennet, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and 15 Others on Intersectionality, Identity, and a Way Forward for Feminism, edited by June Eric-Udorie
I loved the scope of Eric-Udorie’s anthology on feminism with essays touching on topics like the exclusion of trans identity and sex workers in feminism, the struggle for same-sex female couples seeking immigration, and the misogynistic judgment on women’s bodies. Where Can We All Be Feminists? title asks the question, the contributions provide positions many should think about when it comes to intersectional feminism.
In Other Words: Literature By Latinas of the United States, edited by Roberta Fernández
With work segmented by genre in drama, essay, fiction, and poetry, Fernández compiles a fairly hefty and focused text of work by Latinx women in varying styles. Writers engage on topics from feminism, culture, assimilation, and class among other themes.
Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers, edited by Cat Fitzpatrick and Casey Plett
Meanwhile, Elsewhere spans many areas of sci/fi fantasy from high fantasy, post-apocalyptic, and more with new work from writers Ryka Aoki, Jeanne Thornton, and Dane Figueroa Edidi. If you go to the Topside Press landing page for this title you can even buy themed post-reality swag along with the text itself.
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction From the Margins of History, edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older
With contributions from established names in speculative fiction (Victor LaValle, Nnedi Okorafor) and rising voices at the time (Rion Amilcar Scott, Sofia Samatar), Long Hidden allowed oral tradition to play a key role in the presentation of marginalized voices from history and beyond. The follow-up anthology Hidden Youth, edited by Mikki Kendall and Chesya Burke, features teen characters.
What God Is Honored Here? Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss by and for Native and Women of Color, edited by Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang
Combining poetry and prose, the pieces within What God Is Honored Here? discuss the pain of loss while also the perseverance of those who have experienced it either by choice or not. At a time when the regulation of bodies resurfaces throughout the country, this collection showcases how BIWOC are affected in personal and profound ways.
Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives, interviews by Nia King, co-edited by Jessica Glennon-Zukoff and Terra Mikalson
Don’t stop at volume one King’s QTAOC series. These compilations feature candid conversations with POCs in the LGBTQ+ community. King’s books have received great visibility due to her passion and influence and for prioritizing the stories of trans and queer people directly from trans and queer people.
This Place: 150 Years Retold from High Water Press, foreword by Alicia Elliott
A graphic novel anthology published in Canada, This Place features the work of Indigenous creators like Brandon Mitchell, Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Katherena Vermette, Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, Natasha Donovan. The stories encompass depictions taking place from the late 1800s to an anticipated future with vibrant illustrations and candid storytelling.
Go Home! by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
A collaboration between Feminist Press and the Asian American Writers Workshop, the work featured in Go Home dispels a singular idea of home whether as a person of color or an immigrant/refugee. The Asian writers who contributed provide context and contrast in pieces spanning many explorations of place.
Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology, edited by Hope Nicholson
This anthology merges genre with heartfelt romance. Stories range across the Indigenous LGBT community and those focusing on two-spirit characters included tales that are intergalactic or include technology as a way to find love.
The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America, edited by Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman
Personal stories have often been at the forefront of what makes an anthology unique and The Good Immigrant adds to that roster. With stories of cultural appropriation, revisiting homelands, and seeking connection through food and fashion, the contributions in this collection go from country to country leaving readers with more to consider and a wider viewpoint on “belonging.”
How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance, edited by Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin
Contributions run the gamut in How We Fight White Supremacy, with words from freedom fighters and celebrities like Harry Belafonte to Insecure’s Amanda Seales as well as Kiese Laymon, Imani Perry, Hanif Abdurraqib, and Dr. Yaba Blay. Much of those featured have deep reflections on pushing against oppressive forces and joining together in a fight for a more inclusive and loving nation.
Black Ink: Literary Legends on the Peril, Power, and Pleasure of Reading and Writing, edited by Stephanie Stokes Oliver
Stokes Oliver compiles work as early as the writings of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington to Roxane Gay and Edwidge Danticat on the work of writing as a Black person. Looking at the range of pursuits as well as the personalization of craft this anthology speaks to the positions Black writers have been in to speak a form of their truth for decades.
Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers, edited by Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton
Terese Marie Mailhot and Kim Tallbear are a couple of the contributors to Washuta and Warburton’s anthology. Shapes of Native Nonfiction takes lyric essays into account with the complexity of looking at how to literally weave and coil them together through the idea of basket weaving. This anthology publishes in July, so get your preorders in now.