“Poetry gives rhythm to silence, light to darkness. In poetry we find the magic of metaphor, compactness of expression, use of the five senses, and simplicity or complexity of meaning in a few lines.”
These words from therapist Phyllis Klein, who uses poetry in her counseling practice, capture how many people feel about poetry, why it intrigues and delights them.
If you’re a poetry fan, or perhaps have wanted to try your hand at writing it, here are some recent collections you may enjoy, and resources that will be of help in both appreciating poetry and creating it.
“Peppered with Gibran’s haunting and sensual artwork, the book provides a complete collection of insightful verses that will be uplifting to those going through difficult times. Both devotees and those new to Gibran’s work will love this.” (Publishers Weekly)
Light for the World to See by Kwame Alexander
From NPR correspondent and New York Times bestselling author, Kwame Alexander, comes a powerful and provocative collection of poems that cut to the heart of the entrenched racism and oppression in America and eloquently explores ongoing events.
“Former poetry editor at The New Yorker, Quinn gathered the 85 poems in this collection in 40 days, starting on March 27. The result shows some of America’s best poets snapshotting the moment to provide both immediate identification and long-term understanding.” (Library Journal)
DMZ Colony by Don Mee Choi
The 2020 winner of the National Book Award for poetry, this is a powerful work of cultural memory that recovers voices from Korea’s heartbreakingly violent postcolonial history. “Virtuosic in its range and empathy, this is a book that shifts the reader’s understanding of historical narrative from one of war to one of flight.” (Publishers Weekly)
The Death of Sitting Bear: New and Selected Poems by N. Scott Momaday
“An admirable capstone to a distinguished literary career, this splendid selection should be a treasure for Momaday’s readers and an excellent introduction for those new to Native American writing.” (Library Journal)
Make Me Rain: Poems and Prose by Nikki Giovanni
“Giovanni’s latest collection is her finest to date. Imbued with the classic, accessible, and deeply empathetic style of this venerated American poet, these works touch on topics ranging from aging, memories of childhood, elegies for loved ones who have passed, and pride in Black heritage.” (Booklist)
Pale Colors in a Tall Field by Carl Phillips
“Ultimately, these conflicted musings make moments of clarity blazingly bright: ‘I’m the dropped sword in a glittering detachment / of raised ones.’ Another indispensable collection from one of America’s finest poets.” (Booklist)
“Even readers familiar with the rich tradition of African American poetry will be stunned—stunned—by the breadth of this compilation.” (Library Journal)
Here are some easy ways to sample poems by way of the spoken word.
How to Read Poetry Like a Professor: A Quippy and Sonorous Guide to Verse by Thomas C. Foster
Full of helpful advice, this includes a nice selection of poems and passages from longer works, and “could open the doors and windows of poetry wide for readers who have too long avoided some of the world’s greatest writers.”
Don’t Read Poetry: A Book About How to Read Poems by Stephanie Burt
“Burt offers a number of routes readers can take to derive satisfaction from poetry. She looks at poems from writers as disparate as Langston Hughes and Frank Bidart, but also includes contemporary work from poets such as Craig Santos Perez and Carmen Giménez Smith, together with relatable examples from comics like X-Men and Black Panther. As the author of several collections of poetry and numerous works of literary criticism, Burt is well-suited to convince even the most skeptical readers that poems, indeed, should be read by everybody.” (Booklist)
Seasoned poet and anthologist Vecchione covers both the why and how of creating verse, with examples from various poets that demonstrate a range of poetic styles.
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