I’ve really taken a dive into the world of poetry this year and it’s been thankfully more love than hate. As someone that greatly disliked poetry in the past, I’m very happy that I’ve found a few poets that I really enjoyed and feel that I have a decent list for readers both new to poetry or already well acquainted with them. They’re quick to read and a great palette cleanser between long novels. So I decided to share the love and talk about some of my favorite poetry books that I’ve read this year, I hope you all enjoy and can find a few new books to add to your TBRs!
Out Numbered Days
Author: Neil Hilborn
Themes: Mental Illness, Heartbreak, Humor
This is the book that got me into reading poetry and I still hold it in my heart as one of my favorites. Hilborn has a style that is unique and feels like a frenzy, swinging wildly between humor and depression. He is a slam poet that encapsulates crowds and it’s startling how quickly he can change tones in a single poem. His poem, OCD was a viral sensation a few years back and though I didn’t enjoy his latest collection, The Future, it didn’t diminish my adoration for this poet in the least. I cried with how relatable this collection to my own personal struggles with mental illness, he is brilliant and I feel that he should be experienced by everyone that has ever struggled with depression.
Author: Sylvia Plath
Themes: Mental Illness, Infidelity
Perhaps the most famous author on this list, Sylvia Plath is vicious and an absolute master of the written word. Ariel was her swan song, written in a frenzy during her last months before taking her own life. Plath struggled for most of her life with mental illness which was sent over the edge with her husband’s infidelity. This book is brilliant because it covers a wide range of topics. Her tone is powerful, rebellious, and vengeful, she is a force to be reckoned with. Her work can be a little difficult to read but is absolutely worth the time it takes to absorb each poem.
Author: Rudy Francisco
Themes: Love, Racism, Contemporary Issues
Francisco is another wonderful slam poet who shines on the stage, I can’t get enough of watching his poetry readings. He discusses a lot of contemporary issues that will be highly relatable to young adults, particularly young men. There are a ton of contemporary issues in this book for every reader, from love and lust to violence and racism. The rhymes flow beautifully with layers of metaphor that is a joy to read, even when tackling darker themes.
Author: Emtithal Mahmoud
Themes: Genocide, Contemporary Issues, Hope
This debut seems to have gone under the radar and it is an absolute SHAME because the content is so important to historical memory. Mahmoud is a survivor of the Genocide in Darfur and her poetry is a recollection of her painful memories as a survivor and war refugee. She has done a number of talks and poetry readings for organizations such as TED and the UN. She is an incredible young woman with so much wisdom and despite the horrors of war and genocide, love and hope can be found within this book.
Milk and Honey
Author: Rupi Kapur
Genre: Feminism, Love, Heartbreak, Abuse
Clearly the most popular book on this list as I’m sure almost everyone has at least heard of this author or seen one of her poems on various social media, this is one of the modern poets that is absolutely worth all the hype. Kapur is the queen of the instapoet trend and has developed a minimalist style that has inspired countless poets. I was pleasantly surprised by the personal nature of this collection, from the author’s sketches to the author coming to terms with her own flaws and choosing to love herself regardless. This is an empowering book that I highly recommend to folks that are new to poetry, it is easy to read and cathartic.
What are some poets or poetry books that you love?
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