Every time a break rolls around, I resolve to read more books, and I do. I get reacquainted with my love of reading, feel really motivated to keep up my Goodreads goals and tell myself I’ll keep up the pattern even when I’m back in the swing of schoolwork. And then I don’t. But even when I don’t have time to read a whole book, I have time to read poems, and I love finding new ones to discover and take inspiration from. In honor of National Poetry Month this April, I wanted to share some poetry recommendations because I think it’s an art form with something for everyone.
If you are one of those people who thinks the epitome of romance or friendship is feeling so comfortable with someone that you can engage in bathroom talk with them, this poem is for you. I think certain bodily functions are kind of gross to talk about no matter what, so I am not one of those people, but this poem gets a pass from me because Carl Phillips is a genius.
If you hate beauty standards and love women, you will appreciate this poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, who was the first woman ever to win a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She also went to Vassar and won a Misc poetry prize!
In the book where this poem is published, the piece is preceded by a quote from The Guardian: “The Tate Gallery yesterday announced that it had paid £1 Million for a Giorgio de Chirico masterpiece, The Uncertainty of the Poet. It depicts a torso and a bunch of bananas.” If that doesn’t give you some idea of the vibe already, I’ll just say you should read it when you are feeling open to silliness.
This is a poetic representation of what it’s like to have a massive crush and feel dramatic about it. I find a lot of poems boring when they primarily focus on describing items in nature, but this proves that it doesn’t have to be that way! I would never have thought I’d love reading nine lines’ worth of a description of dead squid, but I do in this poem.
This one is short and sweet but it makes me so emotional. If you love dogs as much as I do, this is the perfect poem for you.
“Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude” by Ross Gay [CW: mentions of suicide, murder]
This is a poem that holds a lot of heaviness and a lot of joy at the same time. Ross Gay manages to elevate everyday life in a really beautiful and heartening way: “Here is a cup of tea. / I have spooned honey into it.” It’s also a great springtime poem.
These are two poems written entirely out of Britney Spears’ Instagram captions. Not only are they interesting to read on their own, but they raise profound questions about what it means for something to be a poem. Read them if you’re open to, and excited by, the possibility that such a boundary might be blurry.
I have never played Minecraft, despite all of my younger sibling’s attempts to acquaint me with it, but this poem makes me want to. Hera Lindsay Bird has a writing style that I think is objectively pretty strange but I am obsessed with it. “Outside the sky is firing navy shadows like a T-shirt gun / And spring is on the wind like wifi”? Brilliant.
Poetry can have a reputation for being hard to understand and inaccessible, but I think it’s one of the more accessible forms of art. Poems can be ten words long or five pages, rhyming or not, serious or silly. You can find them on the Internet so easily, and though they might be short compared to an essay or a novel, they take you through a whole emotional journey in the span of a few minutes. These are just a few of the ones I like best, but I hope that this National Poetry Month you do some exploring too. And if you can’t find something you like, you can always write one yourself.