National Poetry Day 2020

Today is National Poetry Day! It is safe to say that this year we needed poetry to soothe and calm us of our anxiety and fears that we have been feeling lately. It is important now more than ever to enjoy, discover and share poetry.

This year I have just done that. I have come across amazing poetry collections and read emotional and powerful poetry that will stay with me always. So in keeping with the tradition of this celebration, I am sharing it with you! If you are looking to start (or get back into) poetry, here are some great book recs that will have you looking at poetry in a whole new light:

Collections of Poetry

She Will Soar edited by Ana Sampson

With poems from classic, well loved poets as well as innovative and bold modern voices, She Will Soar is a stunning collection and an essential addition to any bookshelf. From the ancient world right up to the present day, it includes poems on wanderlust, travel, daydreams, flights of fancy, escaping into books, tranquillity, courage, hope and resilience. From frustrated housewives to passionate activists, from servants and suffragettes to some of today’s most gifted writers, here is a bold choir of voices demanding independence and celebrating their hard-won power.

Immerse yourself in poems by Carol Ann Duffy, Christina Rossetti, Stevie Smith, Sarah Crossan, Emily Dickinson, Salena Godden, Mary Jean Chan, Charly Cox, Nikita Gill, Fiona Benson, Hollie McNish and Grace Nichols to name but a few. (Credit: Pan Macmillan)

SLAM! You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This edited by Nikita Gill

It’s time to reclaim poetry.

Collected by international poetry sensation Nikita Gill, SLAM! You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This is a joyful celebration of the ground-breaking poets making their voices heard in the spoken word scene. Empowering, inspiring and often hilarious, SLAMs are a platform for well-known and emerging talent from all walks of life where every style of poetry has a home.

With poets such as Raymond Antrobus and Dean Atta guest starring alongside up-and-coming poets in the SLAM scene, this is the perfect introduction to world of modern poetry. Each poet will introduce their poem, tell you a little bit about themselves and give you a tip for preparing brilliant poetry for SLAMs. (Credit: Macmillan)

Somebody Give This Hear a Pen by Sophia Thakur

From acclaimed performance poet Sophia Thakur comes a powerful new collection of poems exploring issues of identity, difference, perseverance, relationships, fear, loss and joy. The collection is arranged as life is: from youth to school, to home life, falling in love and falling straight back out again. The poems draw on the author’s experience as a young mixed-race young woman trying to make sense of a lonely and complicated world. With a strong narrative voice and emotional empathy, this is poetry that will resonate with all young people, whatever their background, and whatever their dreams. As she says, she hopes the poems will help readers “grow through what they go through”. (Credit: Walker Books)

Green and Pleasant Land: Best-Loved Poems of the British Countryside edited by Ana Sampson

Our rolling fields and verdant countryside have ever inspired some of the finest verse by our most cherished poets, and the very best are brought together in this thoughtful and enjoyable collection. Green and Pleasant Land features such best-loved poets as Keats, Larkin, Shakespeare, Hopkins and Wordsworth, who effortlessly conjure relaxing and nostalgic images of a better time and place. Be transported to a more lush and vibrant world with this celebration of all the beauty of our language and land. The perfect addition to any poetry lover’s collection. (Credit: Michael O’Mara Books)

Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond

With authenticity, integrity, and insight, this collection of poems from some of today’s most compelling voices addresses the many issues confronting first- and second- generation young adult immigrants and refugees, such as cultural and language differences, homesickness, social exclusion, human rights, racism, stereotyping, and questions of identity. Poems by Elizabeth Acevedo, Erika L. Sanchez, Bao Phi, Eduardo C. Corral, Chen Chen, Sholeh Wolpe, and a growing list of others encourage readers to honor their roots as well as explore new paths, and offers empathy and hope for those who are struggling to overcome discrimination. Many of the struggles immigrant and refugee teens face head-on are also experienced by young people everywhere as they contend with isolation, self-doubt, confusion, and emotional dislocation.
Ink Knows No Borders is the first book of its kind and features approximately 60 poems and an introduction, a bibliography of recommended titles, a resource list of poetry organizations, and brief biographies of the poets. It’s a hopeful and beautiful and meaningful book for any reader.
(Credit: Triangle Square)

Novels in Verse

The Girl and the Goddess by Nikita Gill

Meet Paro. A girl with a strong will, a full heart, and much to learn. Born into a family reeling from the ruptures of Partition in India, we follow her as she crosses the precarious lines between childhood, teenage discovery, and realizing her adult self. In the process, Paro must confront fear, desire and the darkest parts of herself in the search for meaning and, ultimately, empowerment. (Credit: G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

I’m loving every minute of this powerful book and I suggest that everyone give this one a read!

Run Rebel by Manjeet Mann

This is a novel in verse that I cannot stop talking about. This was just such an empowering and powerful good read! It really shows how poetry can have a powerful effect on a person. It was beautiful, heartbreaking and real…just so many powerful feelings in one. Amber’s fight to break away from her father’s tyranny is parallel to today’s women go through in a patriarchal society. But even though this book is an excellent comparison to what is really happening in today’s world, this amazing book also reflects the generational trauma that could be inflicted on a person and how that abuse could be trickled down. But also shows the fight to end that cycle and showing you the impressive courage to discover your own future. This was such an impressive debut and I can’t wait to read more from this talented author. 

Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew

Author Lucy Cuthew vividly portrays what it is to be a teen today with this fearless and ultimately uplifting novel in verse. Brimming with emotion, the story captures the intensity of friendships, first love, and female desire, while unflinchingly exploring the culture of online and menstrual shaming. Sure to be a conversation starter, Blood Moon is the unforgettable portrait of one girl’s fight to reclaim her reputation and to stand up against a culture that says periods are dirty. Credit: Walker Books US)

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour. (Credit: Hodder Children’s Books)

Toffee by Sarah Crossan

Allison has run away from home, and with nowhere to live, finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn’t empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there – and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee.

Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be.

But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself – where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really? (Credit: Bloomsbury YA)

Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

Ana and Connor have been having an affair for three years. In hotel rooms and coffee shops, swiftly deleted texts and briefly snatched weekends, they have built a world with none but the two of them in it.

But then the unimaginable happens, and Ana finds herself alone, trapped inside her secret.

How can we lose someone the world never knew was ours? How do we grieve for something no one else can ever find out? In her desperate bid for answers, Ana seeks out the shadowy figure who has always stood just beyond her reach – Connor’s wife Rebecca.

Peeling away the layers of two overlapping marriages, Here Is the Beehive is a devastating excavation of risk, obsession and loss. (Credit: Bloomsbury Circus)

In my opinion, just read any Sarah Crossan novel. She is just that great of an author!

Classic Poetry Collections

Complete Writings by Phillis Wheatley

This volume collects both Wheatley’s letters and her poetry: hymns, elegies, translations, philosophical poems, tales, and epyllions–including a poignant plea to the Earl of Dartmouth urging freedom for America and comparing the country’s condition to her own. With her contemplative elegies and her use of the poetic imagination to escape an unsatisfactory world, Wheatley anticipated the Romantic Movement of the following century. The appendices to this edition include poems of Wheatley’s contemporary African-American poets: Lucy Terry, Jupiter Harmon, and Francis Williams. (Credit: Penguin Classics)

Poems, Protest, and a Dream: Selected Writings by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1648-1695) wrote her most famous prose work, La Respuesta a Sor Filotea, in 1691 in response to her bishop’s injunction against her intellectual pursuits. A passionate and subversive defense of the rights of women to study, to teach, and to write, it predates by almost a century and a half serious writings on any continent about the position and education of women.

Also included in this wide-ranging selection is a new translation of Sor Juana’s masterpiece, the epistemological poem “Primero Sueno, ” as well as revealing autobiographical sonnets, reverential religious poetry, secular love poems (which have excited speculation through three centuries), playful verses, and lyrical tributes to New World culture that are among the earliest writings celebrating the people and the customs of this hemisphere. (Credit: Penguin Classics)

Bronte: Poems (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets) by Emily Brontë

The Major Works by William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) has long been one of the best-known and best-loved English poets. The Lyrical Ballads, written with Coleridge, is a landmark in the history of English romantic poetry. His celebration of nature and of the beauty and poetry in the commonplace embody a unified and coherent vision that was profoundly innovative.

This volume presents the poems in their order of composition and in their earliest completed state, enabling the reader to trace Wordsworth’s poetic development and to share the experience of his contemporaries. It includes a large sample of the finest lyrics, and also longer narratives such as TheRuined Cottage, Home at Grasmere, Peter Bell, and the autobiographical masterpiece, The Prelude (1805). All the major examples of Wordsworth’s prose on the subject of poetry are also included.

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