10 Poetry Books To Read Now

1 / 10

Set Me On Fire: A Poem for Every Feeling by Ella Risbridger

Poetry has a bad rep for being overly complicated. Ella Risbridger compiled this poetry anthology with the aim of changing this perception, wanting to make the form more approachable. Featuring fresh voices from all over the globe, each poem in this collection is accompanied by Ella’s affectionate commentary and annotations, making each reading seem more like a recommendation from a friend. You’ll find poems about loving someone so much you think you might burst, about coffee, about waiting and kissing, and more. At the core of each poem is the emotion it evokes, and the message that somewhere out there in the world, someone has experienced exactly what you’re going through.

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2 / 10

Soft Science by Franny Choi

In Soft Science, Franny Choi examines what it means to be a human in a world that seems to be increasingly overrun by the inhuman – from artificial intelligence to technology. Her manipulation of language and sentence structure leads you to question what the norm is in more ways than one. Each poem is an exploration of what queer, Asian-American femininity means. A particularly striking series of poems in the book is titled “Turing Test”, which describes a method for determining whether or not an AI can think like a human being. On some level, this experience might be relatable to queer people and people of colour who try to use language to convince other people that they are in fact human too. Each poem forces you to interrogate your own conscience within a tangled web of technology, violence and identity.

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3 / 10

The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman

At the beginning of this year, Amanda Gorman made waves around the world when, at the age of 22, she became the youngest poet to read at a United States presidential inauguration. Her poem, The Hill We Climb, inspired hope across the globe as she called on Americans to leave behind a better country than the one that they had been left with. Many felt that the poem was not only the highlight of the inauguration, but also acted as a much-needed call for unity that applied to every society, not just America, and would remain relevant for years to come. A collectable gift edition of this poem, with a foreword by Oprah Winfrey, will be published at the end of March 2021 and a poetry collection of the same name will be released in September 2021, already reaching the top of Amazon’s bestseller list before publication.

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4 / 10

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair is a collection of poetry written by the late Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Published when Paolo was just 19, the prodigy poet expertly presents the dichotomy between the ecstasy and the sadness of being in love. Even almost 100 years after publication, the sensuality of his poetry and expressions of love remain potent. This collection is full of quotable lines that are sure to make you swoon such as, “love is so short, forgetting is so long” and, “I love you as one loves certain obscure things, secretly, between the shadow and the soul”. At its time of publication in 1924, the collection was considered highly controversial for its sensuality, yet Pablo’s powerful imagery and stunning lyricism has allowed it to remain the best-selling poetry book in the Spanish language, selling over 20 million copies to date.

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5 / 10

The Historians by Eavan Boland

The Historians was the glorious finale to Eavan Boland’s almost 60-year career as she sadly passed away in last April. One of the leading poets in feminist and Irish literature, Eavan was known for her incredible ability to intertwine ordinary women with history and mythology, and this beautiful collection is certainly no exception. The poems in this book explore the way in which bringing hidden stories to light can change our perception of the past, and how voices of women cannot, and should not, be silenced. The book includes poems that describe the power behind rebellion, from two women burning letters in a back garden to Irish suffragists across Ireland exercising their right to vote. This poetry collection sends the message to women that they will not be left behind.

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6 / 10

Dearly by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is perhaps best known for her astounding novels, including The Handmaid’s Tale and its sequel The Testaments, but from the start of her career, she has been regarded as one of the most significant figures in contemporary poetry. Now, aged 81, Margaret returns to her poetic roots for the first time in over a decade. Dearly brings together many of her recurring themes, from political issues to mythology, infused with her biting wit and gorgeous lyricism. Margaret tackles notions of love, loss, nature and time (not to mention werewolves and zombies!). The variety of topics showcases Margaret’s fantastic imagination and insightful observations from a fully lived life. Dearly is an iconic book that Margaret’s long-time fans and poetry lovers alike will cherish for years to come.

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7 / 10

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

After Sylvia Plath took her own life, she left behind Ariel, an unpublished literary triumph. Her husband, Ted Hughes, first unearthed the collection of poetry in 1966, and it has since received global acclaim. Through her poetry, Sylvia exposes the vulnerability that lives within herself. Her voice is raging and bitter, highlighting her ever-changing moods and vengeful perspective on living. Although these poems are dark and even disturbing at times, they don’t repel the reader; on the contrary, the themes will only draw you further in. Sylvia’s vivid imagery describing blooms of blood, claustrophobia and dissolution, only serve to quench the reader’s morbid curiosity. Although many of the poems expose Sylvia’s torturous inner demons, there are still glimmers of rebirth throughout the collection. Sylvia’s ability to, in her daughter’s words, “pin down her subjects with a merciless eye” cement her reputation as one of the most original and gifted poets of the 20th century.

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8 / 10

How To Wash A Heart by Bhanu Kapil

The 2020 judges of the T.S. Eliot Prize – the highest regarded award in British Poetry – unanimously awarded How To Wash A Heart as its winner. The collection investigates the conflicts that arise between an immigrant guest and a citizen host. Each poem is a thought-provoking and interrogative piece of art that questions the limitations and duties surrounding inclusion and hospitality. Bhanu walks the fine line between painful and tender, capturing poetry that is compassionate, surreal and, at times, even comic, that most importantly tells the story of the fierce injustices that many immigrants around the world are faced with today. Touching on themes of the body, racism and violence, each poem is equal parts stimulating and heart-stopping.

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9 / 10

The Madness Vase by Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson’s second poetry collection, The Madness Vase, is a must-read for fans of feminist literature. The topics covered range from hometowns and hate crimes, to the universal feeling of falling in love and the heartbreak of loneliness. The poetry in this collection is simultaneously personal and political, delivered with an urgency that feels like you’re being physically pushed. It provides a grounded yet aggressive examination of our society today, but also offers a path for growth. The journey towards action that Andrea calls for may seem challenging at times, but her writing leaves the reader inspired and certain that they are not alone.

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10 / 10

Alexa, what is there to know about love? by Brian Bilston

Brian Bilston has been described as the Banksy of poetry and Twitter’s unofficial Poet Laureate. Despite his mysterious identity, Brian has become a beloved figure online, and this poetry collection demonstrates why. “Alexa, what is there to know about love?” is a beautiful collection about love in all its many forms, from romantic to familial, literary passion and online love. Each poem is saturated with Brian’s renowned humour and wit as he perfectly ties jokes with bittersweet narratives about a book lover’s love for reading and literature, and the ultimate heartbreaker: politics. Brian makes the familiar original through tributes to iconic couples and the reliance on a piece of artificial intelligence to answer life’s questions. The collection makes it clear that while technology and the dating scene may change, it seems that some things in love never do. Brian’s collection is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, and brings a modern twist to a timeless emotion.

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