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11 Poetry Collections That Even Non-Poetry Readers Will Enjoy

Deeply affecting, classic, and accessible.

There has been a lot of discussion about poetry since the breakout success of Rupi Kaur's Milk and Honey: Are these "Instagram poets" killing the artform entirely, or ensuring its survival in the 21st century? Whichever side of the debate you fall on, we can probably all agree that poetry is important, and certainly something worth keeping alive. 

But you don't have to rely solely on the Rupis of the world to find poems that are beautiful and accessible—in fact, you can turn to many of the greats, from the melancholic Anne Sexton to the always-snarky Dorothy Parker. To get you started, we've listed 11 collections by classic poets that any reader can enjoy and connect with. Check them out below!


Buy Dream Work at Amazon

Dream Work

By Mary Oliver

Our Favorite: "Wild Geese" 

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body                                                      
love what it loves.                                                 
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.                             
Meanwhile the world goes on.                                   
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Dream Work

By Mary Oliver

Buy Revolutionary Petunias at Amazon

Revolutionary Petunias

By Alice Walker

Our Favorite: "The QPP"

“The quietly pacifist peaceful
always die
to make room for men
who shout.”

Revolutionary Petunias

By Alice Walker

Buy The Complete Poems at Amazon

The Complete Poems

By Anne Sexton

Poem: "Her Kind"

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

The Complete Poems

By Anne Sexton

Buy A Wave at Amazon

A Wave

By John Ashbery

Poem: "More Pleasant Adventures"

A sentimental journey—“gonna take a sentimental journey,”
And we do, but you wake up under the table of a dream:
You are that dream, and it is the seventh layer of you.
We haven’t moved an inch, and everything has changed.

Buy Love Alone at Amazon

Love Alone

By Paul Monette

Our Favorite: "HERE"

everything extraneous has burned away
this is how burning feels in the fall
of the final year not like leaves in a blue
October but as if the skin were a paper lantern
full of trapped moths beating their fired wings
and yet I can lie on this hill just above you
a foot beside where I will lie myself
soon soon and for all the wrack and blubber
feel still how we were warriors when the
merest morning sun in the garden was a
kingdom after Room 1010

Love Alone

By Paul Monette

Buy Monster at Amazon

Monster

By Robin Morgan

Our Favorite: "Monster"

Sweet revolution, how I wish the female tears
rolling silently down my face this second were each a bullet,
each word I write, each character on my typewriter bullets
to kill whatever it is in men that builds this empire,
colonized my very body,
then named the colony Monster.

Buy Scattered Poems at Amazon

Scattered Poems

By Jack Kerouac

Our Favorite: "PAX"

I demand that the human race
ceases multiplying its kind
and bow out
I advise it.

Scattered Poems

By Jack Kerouac

Buy The Concrete River at Amazon

The Concrete River

By Luis J. Rodríguez

Our Favorite: "The Concrete River"

This river, this concrete river,
Becomes a steaming, bubbling
Snake of water, pouring over
Nightmares of wakefulness;
Pouring out a rush of birds;
A flow of clear liquid
On a cloudless day.
Not like the black oil stains we lie in,
Not like the factory air engulfing us;
Not this plastic death in a can.

The Concrete River

By Luis J. Rodríguez

Buy Becoming Light at Amazon

Becoming Light

By Erica Jong

Our Favorite: "Lullaby for a Dybbuk"

Pain
is not love.
Love flowers; love gives
without taking;
love is serene
and calm.

Becoming Light

By Erica Jong

Buy The Moon is Always Female at Amazon

The Moon is Always Female

By Marge Piercy

From "The Moon is Always Female"

The moon is always female and so
am I although often in this vale
of razorblades I have wished I could
put on and take off my sex like a dress
and why not? Do men always wear their sex
always?

The Moon is Always Female

By Marge Piercy

Buy The Portable Dorothy Parker at Amazon

The Portable Dorothy Parker

By Dorothy Parker

Our Favorite: "A Certain Lady"

Oh, I can smile for you, and tilt my head,
And drink your rushing words with eager lips,
And paint my mouth for you a fragrant red,
And trace your brows with tutored finger-tips.
When you rehearse your list of loves to me,
Oh, I can laugh and marvel, rapturous-eyed.
And you laugh back, nor can you ever see
The thousand little deaths my heart has died.
And you believe, so well I know my part,
That I am gay as morning, light as snow,
And all the straining things within my heart
You’ll never know.

The Portable Dorothy Parker

By Dorothy Parker

Featured image of Mary Oliver: Alchetron

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Published on 18 Jan 2019

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