One of the great things about school finishing up for the summer is the newfound free time that comes with it. There are tons of things you can do to fill this time, and I’ve found one of my favorite things to do is read.
Reading may not be the first thing you want to do after going through a semester or school year where you had to do tons of readings form textbooks, but one of the beauties of summer reading is you can read whatever you want with no restrictions.
A genre that I’ve been exploring more recently is poetry. It’s perfect for summer reading. You can read poetry books in small bursts, so they feel less daunting then reading a novel. Plus, the beautiful words from these poets aren’t difficult to want to read, and they can really get you thinking.
Here are 10 poetry books to consider adding to your summer reading list.
1. Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace
Poet Amanda Lovelace is best known for her “women are some kind of magic” series, which features feminist and women-centric poems that deal with issues such as body image, domestic violence, and sexual assault through the lens of fairy tales. Break Your Glass Slippers, which was published in March of this year, is the first in a new companion series called “you are your own fairy tale.”
Drawing inspiration from the fairy tale of Cinderella, Break Your Glass Slippers is about self worth and seeing yourself as a valuable main character in your own life.
2. The Next Loves by Stephane Bouquet
The Next Loves, by Stephane Bouquet explores themes of love, desire, and loneliness in the present day. His work, translated from French by Lindsay Turner, also looks into what it’s like to be a queer person in contemporary society. It’s a good pick if you’re looking for some bittersweet love poems for your summer reading.
3. Kent State by Deborah Wiles
The Kent State shootings of 1970, where four college students were killed by National Guardsmen while protesting the Vietnam war, was one of the darkest moments in American history. Kent State by Deborah Wiles is a poetry collection that tells the story of that event from multiple perspectives.
It’s a unique and haunting telling of the events that happened on that day.
4. The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
Rupi Kaur is well known for her poetry book Milk and Honey. The Sun and Her Flowers is Kaur’s second poetry collection. While Milk and Honey was mainly focused on survival, The Sun and Her Flowers tells a story of growth and healing. It also includes illustrations by Kaur.
5. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
While poems in poetry books are often seen as stand alone pieces, but there are times when poems in a collection can work together to tell a story. Clap When You Land is a perfect example of that.
Written by poet Elizabeth Acevedo, Clap When You Land tells the story of two sisters who are dealing with life following the death of her father. It’s a good pick for summer reading if you’re looking for the best of both worlds of poetry and a story.
6. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath is a well-known writer, perhaps most well known for her novel The Bell Jar. Ariel is a poetry collection that was published by her husband, Ted Hughes, after she died in 1963. This book gives haunting and raw insight into Plath’s psyche.
7. Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes
Birthday Letters is a collection of poetry by Sylvia Plath’s husband, Ted Hughes that was released months before Hughes’s death. It explores the highs and lows of his marriage with Plath, including his response to Plath’s suicide in 1963.
This book provides a broader look at Hughes’s life that the media did not fully cover following Plath’s suicide. It’s an interesting way to get a broader look at a historically one-sided tale.
8. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Imagine writing to one of your favorite authors to get their feedback on your writing, and their responses to you getting published in a collection of their own for the world to read. That’s the real life basis of Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.
A student sent Rilke his poems for him to assess them, and the letters back to the student were published. The letters offer insight into themes that appear in some of Rilke’s best and most famous works.
9. Depression and Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim
Sabrina Benaim is a well-known creator in the realm of performance poetry. One of her most famous works, “Explaining Depression to My Mother” has been viewed over 5 million times. In her 2017 debut book, Depression and Other Magic Tricks, Benaim makes the leap from performance poetry into written poetry.
Depression and Other Magic Tricks dives deep into themes such as mental health in relation to family and love in the different facets of daily life.
Mental health is an increasingly important and relevant problem in society. It’s important to have works like Benaim’s Depression and Other Magic Tricks as a way to open up discussions about these kinds of issues as well as reduce the stigma surrounding them.
10.Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda is arguably one of the most famous and most influential poets of all time. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, published in 1924, was the work that made Neruda famous at the age of 19.
As the title suggests, the poems in this collection are romantic poems. If you’re looking for a way to add a little bit of romance and love to your summer, why not give Neruda’s poetry a try? Reading Neruda’s work could serve to spark some inspiration inside of you, whether you consider yourself to be a poet or just more of a lover.