• Marina Rose

National Poetry Month: Five Poets You Should Be Reading


close up of typewriter keys

April 2021 is the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Month! It was first declared National Poetry Month in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets and has been celebrated worldwide ever since. So what is National Poetry Month? It is a time to celebrate poetry and the poets who write it. There are many ways you can celebrate poetry - from reading your favorite poem to exploring the works of a new poet or even trying to write some of your own poetry. You can find more ideas for celebrating National Poetry Month on poets.org. In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought it would be fun to highlight five contemporary poets and their most recent works. You can find the works of these poets through our online catalog or by placing an interlibrary loan request. As you explore these poets and more, I hope you find joy and inspiration in their words and rhythms, and that you continue to enjoy the beauty of poetry.

Rupi Kaur
anatomical heart with flowers - poem "What is stronger than the human hear which shatters over and over and still lives.: _ Rupi Kaur

Our first poet is a 28-year-old Indian-Canadian poet, Rupi Kaur. Kaur started writing poetry at a young age and self-published her first work of poetry while in college. She became almost an instant success, and her third collection of poetry, home body, is a #1 bestseller on multiple lists worldwide. Kaur illustrated her first collection of poetry from beginning to end and continued this tradition with her following books. One thing that sets Kaur's work apart from other poetry is it's distinct style - every poem is comprised of only lowercase letters and periods. Kaur copied this style from the scripts of her native language Punjabi and states that she loves the simplicity of the language and how it reflects her work.

Her third and most recent collection of poetry, Home body is "a reflective and intimate journey visiting the past, the present, and the potential of one's self." (https://rupikaur.com/pages/home-body) You can place a hold on the collection from one of our sister libraries using the online catalog.


Diane Raptosh
Oover of "Dear Z: The Zygote epistles"

Diane Raptosh is a local poet who teaches literature and creative writing, as well as co-directs the program in Criminal Justice/Prison Studies at the College of Idaho. She was named the Boise Poet Laureate in 2013 and served as an Idaho Writer in Residence from 2013 to 2016. An Idaho native, Raptosh just released her sixth collection of poetry, Dear Z: the Zygote Epistles, in 2020. Raptosh has taught creative writing workshops in many different places, including maximum security prisons and is a fierce advocate for poetry. Dear Z is written in letters that create a tour of 21st century America and explore identity, language, and more. Her seventh work, Run: A Verse History of Victoria Woodhull, is scheduled for release this spring.


Claudia Rankine
Cover of "Just Us: An American Conversation"

Jamaican poet, Claudia Rankine, isn't afraid to tackle tough subjects in her writing. She urges her readers to engage in difficult conversations in order to expose white supremacy and racism in our individual and collective actions. My favorite collection of poetry from her is Citizen: An American Lyric which won the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, as well as the 2015 PEN Open Book Award and 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry. I listened to the collection through our Libby app and was struck by the thought-provoking verse and unflinching tone. In addition to her works of poetry, Rankine has written three plays, co-edited multiple anthologies, and co-founded The Racial Imaginary Institute. Her works have won numerous awards

Just Us: An American Conversation was released in September 2020 and tackles white supremacy, racism, and how to have meaningful conversations about these issues. Rankine sprinkles essays, poems, and images together to make a beautiful, provocative collection.

r.H. Sin
poem "put your phone down" by r.H. Sin

Reuben Holmes, aka r.H. Sin, is an up-and-coming poet who gained an appreciation for and love of poetry in the third grade when he found Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven at his local library. He experimented with different forms of poetry throughout his school years and after high school became heavily invested in working with social media, particularly Twitter. Since he was able to work from home, he had time to write, and in 2014 he began dabbling in poetry within the 140 character limit on Twitter. His following grew and he began cross-promoting his work on Instagram where his following has continued to expand and grow. And now, in 2021, Sin hasn't slowed a bit. Now commonly referred to as a feminist Instagram poet, Sin has released multiple works of poetry. The most recent publication available through the library is Empty Bottles Full of Stories, co-written with Robert M. Drake. You can find him on Instagram @r.h.sin and Twitter @byRHSin.

Ocean Vuong
Night Sky with Exit Wounds book cover

Vietnamese-born and American-raised, Ocean Vuong, published his first poetry chapbook in 2010. Vuong's poetry explores refugee culture, desire, and transformation. You may recognize his name from his first novel, published in 2019, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous. He has released two chapbooks (small collections of poetry, up to 40 pages in length), a full-length poetry book, and his epistolary novel. He is the recipient of a 2019 MacArthur "Genius" Grant as well as several other awards. Night Sky with Exit Wounds, his full-length book of poetry, was released in 2016 and won several awards, including Library Journal Best Books of the Year (2016), Whiting Award (2016), and Publishing Triangle's Thom Gunn Award (2017). It was also a finalist for other awards. The poetry in this work has a raw emotional tone and touches on America's attempt to silence "othered voices." You can find some of his poetry online at https://www.oceanvuong.com/poems


Did you like this list? Stay tuned for more recommended reading lists or call the library to get more recommendations!

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