If you’ve never been into poetry, the idea of picking it up can be daunting. Where do you even start? Should you go to the beginning, bury yourself in Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson? Or is there a place a little closer to the present where you can start?
This list is for all those who just need a starting place (or for poetry fans looking for their next book!).
1. Even This Page Is White by Vivek Shraya
Vivek’s debut collection is a study of skin. Or more correctly, it is a study of how one’s pigmentation changes the world around them. These poems paint a picture of what it is like to be racialized.
2. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
This is Rankine’s long awaited second book after Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. Citizen is a bold display of what it means to live in a “post-race” society. It highlights the everyday occurrences that show that racism is still alive and well; everything from the slip of tongue in the media, to intentional slurs in the supermarket.
3. The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
This book of poetry is the story of Amber. Amber’s life is spinning out of control when she decides to spend a day on the beach. There, she meets Cade, and the pair share the perfect day.
4. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
This collection is made up of Woodson’s thoughts and memories of what it means to search for your place in the world. She was a child in the 60’s and 70’s when residual Jim Crow laws and the Civil Rights Movement were surging in public awareness. This collection has won many awards including the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Newbery Award, and the Sibert Honor.
5. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Josh Bell tells the story of his family through rap. He and his twin brother are awesome on the basketball court, but they both must accept what it means to grow up, both on and off the court, and what effect breaking rules can have on our lives.
6. Sold by Patricia McCormick
After Lakshmi’s family home in Nepal is destroyed in a monsoon, her stepfather says she must get a job to help support the family. He introduces her to a stranger who takes her to India to be a maid, but once she arrives, Lakshmi learns the horrible truth, that she has been sold as a prostitute. Lakshmi’s story is one not only of survival but of triumph.
7. Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth by Warsan Shire
Shire’s poems are as shareable as they are haunting. This thought-provoking collection reflects on living in a divided culture, as well as love, family, and sensuality.
8. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Survival is the theme in this collection of both prose and poetry. The book is split into four chapters, each with its own purpose. It explores the most bitter moments in life, to seek out the sweetness that underlies everything.
9. The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
Similar to Milk and Honey, Lovelace’s collection of poetry is divided into four chapters; the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. The first three are stories from Lovelace’s life, while the final is a commentary on humankind.
What are your favorite poetry books? Which ones would you recommend for the first time prose reader?
YouTube Channel: Wina Wonders
Featured image via Pixabay