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Celebrate National Poetry Month With These Literary Masterpieces

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Yes, it’s another post about a thematic month that’s widely celebrated! April is National Poetry Month, and this one actually occurs around the globe as the single largest celebration of literature. Launched by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, this is a special occasion that acknowledges the integral role of poets in our culture and society. Let’s just be honest–poetry is dang cool, and there’s so many different styles and stanzas, from haikus and sonnets to elegies and good ol’ free verse. 

But poetry is more than just a rhythmic art of expression. It helps us appreciate the world around us and serves as a reminder to emphasize with each other. It adds a beauty and depth to storytelling in a way that can be interpreted uniquely to every reader, beyond just the epic, comic, and tragic. Poetry is thought of by some as a mostly forgotten or undervalued craft, however in recent times it’s made quite the strong revival. 

The name of this year’s theme is “We Were All Meant for Something”, and as you delve into the captivating world of reading poetry (or perhaps even writing it), ask yourself these questions: what are you meant for? What purpose would you like to give to your life, and what kind of legacy would you hope to leave behind? Pretty deep subject matter to contemplate, we know. But that’s one of the points of poetry, right? To dig deeper. 

Philosophical discussions aside, we hope you enjoy this handpicked selection of the latest and greatest poetry in our library collection that fits well with the theme, and don’t forget to check out the 811.6s in our nonfiction sections for more!

This collection traverses the vast emotional terrain of fatherhood and raising a family, the way our lives are shaped by our lineage and institutions, how we come to see the world through a new lens in the eyes of generations after us, and the actions we take with this new perspective.

These poems are about survival and finding solace in the midst of existential threats, touching on the themes of race, mental health, and collective grief while reminding readers that apocalypse is a state of being, not a permanent status. 

The themes of motherhood, friendship, love, loss, and balancing it all within contemporary suburban life are explored, and how to push through the struggles to regain identity and purpose.

These poems urge the reader to embrace the consistency of change and serve as a reminder that you can make it through any weather, both internally and externally. The writer emphasizes the beauty and value you can create with these changes, and that you are in more control of your life than you may think.

In a lyrical, hard-edged fashion, this author invites us to redefine and reevaluate our spiritual and moral beliefs and decipher what kinds of revelations that pain, love, and grace can bring to our lives. Chapman tells a story of how life has been felt to its limits and can be transformed into art.

In this poetic memoir, Felix uses her dyscalculia–a learning disorder that affects a person’s ability to understand number-based information–as a metaphor for the consequences of her miscalculations in love. Through a descriptive relationship with mathematics that deals with perception versus reality, she weaves a tapestry of healing and hope carried in the risk of intimacy. 

In another illustrative collection about becoming your best self by embracing change, Rupi Kaur challenges us to reflect on the past, present, and potential of ourselves through raw, honest conversations. Touching on themes of acceptance and community, the author reminds us that to help others we must first help ourselves.

At the intersection of language, history, culture, and identity is this prismatic collection of poetry centered around being of Native descent. Chabitnoy explores stories of family records, personal relationships, and attempts at erasure in order to reconnect with her community and stand firmly again from a life disrupted.

The anonymous poet’s latest installment embarks on a journey of studying oneself, inspiring the reader to look within for answers to the big questions. These poems on self-love, meditation, and meaning come paired with beautiful sketches that help bring the words to life on the pages.

In this ode to the Black experience, Cynthia Manick combines sweet observation with bitter truth on the themes of familial bonds, social commentary, introverted thoughts, peer expectations, and a celebration of the everyday lives of people of color.

Presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman features her famously groundbreaking poem spoken at the inauguration of Joe Biden, plus a collection of energizing poetry on social justice and politics that speaks to generations both young and old. 

This collection of poetry and prose on the pain of heartbreak and loss will encourage the readers to sit with their emotions and fully process them. Zebian allows us space to ask the important question of “how can we turn our pain into purpose and welcome happiness back into the fold?” 

Coping with the aftershock of his mother’s death, Ocean Vuong searches for a continuation in life through this deeply intimate second poetry collection. Shifting through memory, these poems delve into personal loss, the meaning of family, and the cost of being a product of war. Vivid and bold, Vuong’s words are a testament to finding peace in the face of violence and illuminating a path forward.