For writers and poetry lovers alike, April is known as National Poetry Month. If you’re new to the genre or have always been intimidated by it, fear not. Here is a guide to seven excellent collections to start with in contemporary poetry.
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1. The Sobbing School by Joshua Bennett
The poems in this collection cover the issues and hardships of growing up black in America. It’s filled with pieces that simultaneously break your heart and give you hope.
The wordplay and repetition of certain phrases throughout make this collection a clever set of poems even for the uninitiated.
2. Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
This collection of poems is a heavy read, but it’s filled with beautiful images of longing and, yes, fear.
Smith uses poetry to paint a picture of living as both black and gay, making this a must-read collection of work for those seeking intersectional diversity in their reading lives.
3. My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter by Aja Monet
For a feminist perspective on poetry, Monet’s collection is the way to go. With rich and sensual language that portrays the relationships between women, it’s the perfect set of poems to dive into for National Poetry Month.
Her lines will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading the poetry collection. It has a strong sense of place and rhythm that both those new to poetry and the well-versed (pun intended) in the craft can appreciate.
4. All My Heroes Are Broke by Ariel Francisco
Disclaimer: I am acquainted with the writer of this collection, but that doesn’t make his work any less valid.
Francisco is a young poet, but he writes with the voice of a more experienced and world-weary artist. It’s the type of poetry that resonates with the millennial generation and its growing anxieties.
5. Scriptorium by Melissa Range
Range’s collection of poems brings a magnifying glass to Southern culture and religion. The language she employs for these poems shows a writer who is deft in creating detailed images.
The beautiful imagery throughout the poems in this collection leave you with vivid impressions imprinted in the mind’s eye long after you’ve finished reading the book.
6. Mexicamericana by Eloísa Amezcua
This one is not a full-length poetry collection, but it still packs a punch. Amezcua explores the lines between identities in her tight but powerful poems.
In a time of great turmoil among the Latinx community, Mexicamericana offers a much-needed perspective to those who want to learn more about what it means to be American and not considered American.
7. Dated Emcees by Chinaka Hodge
In this poetry book collection, Hodge creates an homage to hip hop and its most famous artists by incorporating their very spirits into her own work.
These poems are a lyrical masterpiece on the page, but even more engaging when read out loud. You can’t help but bop along to their rhythm as you read.
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