Books to Read For National Poetry Month (And Any Other Month)

Books to Read For National Poetry Month (And Any Other Month)

April is National Poetry Month. I try to share poetry throughout the month in my Poetically Speaking series here on the blog. This year, I thought I’d also share some of my favorite poetry collections and verse novels to read this month and all year to add more poetry to your life.

You can shop the full list at Bookshop and Amazon.

Collections:

Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
Diaz’s work interrogates the erasure of indigenous peoples in America while making space for new stories.

Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
Are you like me and discovered Amanda Gorman and her work after she delivered her poem at the 2021 presidential inauguration? If the answer is yes, you will be as happy as I am to find this collection of some of Gorman’s other works.

Life of the Party by Olivia Gatwood
Gatwood is one of my favorite poets and, while grim, this is one of the most cohesive collections of poetry I’ve seen. Loosely inspired by Gatwood’s own interest in true crime this is a sharp, feminist collection that will stay with you.

Poisoned Apples: Poems For You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann
In this collection Hepperman presents 50 poems that bring fairy tale themes and ideas together with the lives of modern girls in clever ways. Eerie photographs accompany the poems to lend a haunting quality to this deceptively slim volume.
Read my review.

the sun and her flowers by rupi kaur
Kaur’s collections are and interesting combination of artwork and poetry. Sparse verse and line drawn art work well to complement each other in this visually oriented collection.

Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón
I love Limón and no poetry roundup would be complete without one of her collections.

the princess saves herself in this one by amanda lovelace
There are a lot of entry points to amanda lovelace’s work but this collection is still one of my favorites. I love the empowerment and the way the poems play with traditional fairytale imagery.

Verse Novels:

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Can you know a sister you have never met? Can you claim a family that doesn’t know you? As Camino and Yahaira come to terms with their father’s lies and transgressions both girls will have to grieve everything they have lost while they try to understand what they have to gain in this verse novel that pulls no punches as it tells the story of a complicated family with immediacy and care.
Read my review. (Want even more Acevedo? Be sure to check out The Poet X too.)

500 Words or Less by Juleah del Rosario
What happens when your attempt to be a better person might be making you worse? To revamp her reputation with her Ivy League obsessed classmates, Nic Chen has a simple plan: she will write college admission essays. For a price. But as Nic learns more about her classmates, she realizes she still has a lot to learn about herself and her moral compass in this shining verse novel.
Read my review.

Lawless Spaces by Corey Ann Haydu
This verse novel introduces readers to the Dovewick family and tackles the isolation and loss of the pandemic (specifically 2020’s quarantine months) while also exploring what it means to carry generational trauma. A powerful, ultimately healing story that is easily my favorite book of the year.
Read my review. Read my interview with Corey about the book.

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
Rome, 1610: Artemisia Gentileschi had limited options when her mother died at twelve. She could join a convent or she could work in her father’s studio grinding paint, preparing canvases, and modeling as needed. She chose art. McCullough beautifully details Artemisia’s passion and commitment to her art in this verse novel that follows Artemesia’s teen years and continues through her rape by Agostino Tassi and the subsequent trial.
Read my review. Read my interview with Joy about this book.

After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy
This book explores a love triangle from two sides and dual POV and verse. It’s also one of the older ones featured but I had to included it because this book is such a key part of my blog. Terra was the first author I ever interviewed and in many ways this book inspired what eventually became Poetically Speaking.
Read my review. Read my interview with Terra about this book.

Amber & Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz
What begins as a story about a spoiled girl and a common boy becomes, in the author’s capable hands, a much larger commentary on art, friendship, and identity as we watch Melisto and Rhaskos transform, becoming “the girl as electric as amber, the boy, indestructible as clay” in this richly layered verse novel.
Read my review.

Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe by Carole Boston Weatherford
Everyone knows about Marilyn Monroe’s difficult life and tragic end. Few people know the traumatic start of her life watching her mother struggle with schizophrenia, moving through foster care, and even teen marriage. While evidence of her transition from brunette pin-up model to blonde bombshell is immediately obvious, the road that got her there has never been explored from her own perspective. Until now.
Read my review.

Poetry-Infused Stories:

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
Paul is gone and with him pieces of Emily are gone too. Even before his suicide, Emily knew she would never be the same. She just didn’t know it would hurt this much. Vacillating between guilt and anger, Emily Beam is sent to an all girls boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts. Surrounded by history from Emily Dickinson’s life, Emily delves into poetry and her new life hoping to escape.
Read my review.

Undercover by Beth Kephart
Kephart uses poetry and prose to tell a layered story about love in all of its forms whether for family, friends, nature or even for words in this book that is partly a retelling of the play Cyrano De Bergerac and partly something entirely unique.
Read my review.

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
This story is told entirely through Gabi’s diary entries as she navigates an especially complicated year in her life as many long-standing problems come to a head including her father’s addiction and Gabi’s mother’s disapproval of Gabi’s plans to go away to college.
Read my review.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Readers who are up to the task of a difficult read with darker subject matter will find a powerful story in Rose Under Fire with an incredibly strong and inspiring heroine at the center of its story.
Read my review.