Book Lists

Books of Poetry To Read Right Now

This list of contemporary poetry collections will help you to sneak more poetry into your life.

Poetry to Read

Poetry is a form of literature that is often misunderstood and perceived to be outdated and difficult.  April is National Poetry Month, and we’ve compiled a list of contemporary poetry collections to help you sneak in more poetry in your life.

Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans

Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans

From spoken word poet Jasmine Mans comes an unforgettable poetry collection about race, feminism, and queer identity.

American Melancholy by Joyce Carol Oates

American Melancholy by Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is one of our most insightful observers of the human heart and mind, and, with her acute social consciousness, one of the most insistent and inspired witnesses of a shared American history.

What He Did in Solitary by Amit Majmudar

What He Did in Solitary by Amit Majmudar

With his dazzling ability to set words spinning, Amit Majmudar brings us poems that sharpen both wit and knives as he examines our life in solitary. Equally engaged with human history and the human heart, Majmudar transfigures identity from a locus of captivity to the open field of his liberation.

F*ck You Haiku by Kristina Grish

F*ck You Haiku by Kristina Grish

When her marriage came to a sudden and infuriating end, noted relationship columnist Kristina Grish turned to writing impassioned breakup haikus as a creative way of processing all the messy and intense feelings she was experiencing. Now, in F*ck You Haiku, Kristina has compiled more than 100 breakup haikus–inspired by her past breakups as well as universal experiences–to help anyone going through a split deal with their heartbreak via poetry.

If They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar

If They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar

From a co-creator of the Emmy-nominated web series Brown Girls comes an imaginative, soulful debut poetry that collection captures the experiences of being a young Pakistani Muslim woman in contemporary America.

Finna by Nate Marshall

Finna by Nate Marshall

Definition of finna, created by the author: fin-na /ˈfinə/ contraction: (1) going to; intending to [rooted in African American Vernacular English] (2) eye dialect spelling of “fixing to” (3) Black possibility; Black futurity; Blackness as tomorrow

These poems consider the brevity and disposability of Black lives and other oppressed people in our current era of emboldened white supremacy, and the use of the Black vernacular in America’s vast reserve of racial and gendered epithets.

What Kind Of Woman by Kate Baer

What Kind Of Woman by Kate Baer

A stunning and honest debut poetry collection about the beauty and hardships of being a woman in the world today, and the many roles we play – mother, partner, and friend.

In the Lateness of the World by Carolyn Forché

In the Lateness of the World by Carolyn Forché

In the Lateness of the World is a tenebrous book of crossings, of migrations across oceans and borders but also between the present and the past, life and death.

God I Feel Modern Tonight by Catherine Cohen

God I Feel Modern Tonight by Catherine Cohen

Poems of heartbreak and sex, self-care and self-critique, urban adventures and love on the road from the millennial quarantine queen and comedy sensation.

Insomnia by John Kinsella

Insomnia by John Kinsella

In this forceful call to action, acclaimed poet John Kinsella explores deeply felt and ever more insistent ecological concerns in his signature lyrical and experimental activist poetry. Here Kinsella turns his restless, unblinking gaze to a world where art, music, and philosophy–the highest creations of the human imagination and empathy–suddenly find themselves in a time and place that not only deny their importance, but can seem to have no use for them at all.

Dearly by Margaret Atwood

Dearly by Margaret Atwood

In Dearly, Margaret Atwood’s first collection of poetry in over a decade, Atwood addresses themes such as love, loss, the passage of time, the nature of nature and – zombies. Her new poetry is introspective and personal in tone, but wide-ranging in topic. In poem after poem, she casts her unique imagination and unyielding, observant eye over the landscape of a life carefully and intuitively lived.

Homie by Danez Smith

Homie by Danez Smith

Homie is Danez Smith’s magnificent anthem about the saving grace of friendship. Rooted in the loss of one of Smith’s close friends, this book comes out of the search for joy and intimacy within a nation where both can seem scarce and getting scarcer. In poems of rare power and generosity, Smith acknowledges that in a country overrun by violence, xenophobia, and disparity, and in a body defined by race, queerness, and diagnosis, it can be hard to survive, even harder to remember reasons for living.

Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back by Alicia Cook

Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back by Alicia Cook

Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back is a poetic mixtape dedicated to those who struggle or have struggled with their mental health. Divided into two parts, “Side A” holds 92 poems, titled as “tracks,” and “Side B” holds the “remixes,” or blackout-poetry versions, of those 92 poems. The book includes the evergreen themes of love, grief, and hope.

Swimming Lessons by Lili Reinhart

Swimming Lessons by Lili Reinhart

Swimming Lessons explores the euphoric beginnings of young love, battling anxiety and depression in the face of fame, and the inevitable heartbreak that stems from passion.

Mezzanine by Zoe Hitzig

Mezzanine by Zoe Hitzig

In her striking collection of poems, Zoë Hitzig investigates how we seek certitude, power, and domination over the natural world and one another. Hitzig brings a scientific rigor to her searing lyricism, as well as a raucous energy and willingness to allow her work to dwell in states of uncertainty and precariousness.

I am The Rage by Martina McGowan

I am The Rage by Martina McGowan, illustrated by Diana Ejaita

From two Black women of two different generations, I am The Rage provides insights that no think piece on racism can; putting readers in the position of feeling, reflecting, and facing what it means to be Black in America.

The Collection Plate : Poems Kendra Allen

The Collection Plate by Kendra Allen

Looping exultantly through the overlapping experiences of girlhood, Blackness, sex, and personhood in America, award-winning essayist and poet Kendra Allen braids together personal narrative and cultural commentary, wrestling with the beauty and brutality to be found between mothers and daughters, young women and the world, Black bodies and white space, virginity and intrusion, prison and freedom, birth and death. Most of all, The Collection Plate explores both how we collect and erase the voices, lives, and innocence of underrepresented bodies—and behold their pleasure, pain, and possibility

Machete : Poems Tomás Q. Morín

Machete by Tomás Q. Morín

Tomás Morín hails from the coastal plains of Texas, and explores a world where identity and place shift like that ever-changing shore. In these poems, culture crashes like waves and leaves behind Billie Holiday and the CIA, disco balls and Dante, the Bible and Jerry Maguire. They are long, lean, and dazzle in their telling: “Whiteface” is a list of instructions for people stopped by the police; “Duct Tape” lauds our domestic life from the point of view of the tape itself.

Dream of the Divided Field : Poems Yanyi

Dream of the Divided Field by Yanyi

Informed by Yanyi’s experiences of immigration, violent heartbreak, and a bodily transition, Dream of the Divided Field explores the contradictions that accompany shifts from one state of being to another. In tender, serene, and ethereal poems, Dream of the Divided Field examines a body breaking down and a body that rebuilds in limitless and boundary-shifting ways. These are homes in memory—homes of love and isolation, lust and alienation, tenderness and violence, suffering and wonder.

What do you think about the books on this list?

Have you read any of the books on this list?  What are some of your favorite poetry collections?  What books of poetry would you add to the list?

Books of Poetry To Read Right Now

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