Modern Poets You Need to Read

Shefali Lohia
October 11 2018
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One thing I’ve learned as someone who works in book publishing and writes for a blog is that a lot of people who work with writers dream of being writers themselves. Most of my colleagues were Lit Majors or Creative Writing Minors, some are currently applying to MFA programs, and some secretly (or perhaps not so secretly) have half-written novels they eventually hope to publish.

I am no exception. As a kid, I was extremely into poetry and even won an award for a poem I penned when I was eight-years old. This was pretty much the height of my fame (#humblebrag). But as I got older, I forgot about the power of poetry, and forgot how to write it. Today, somewhat improbably, Instagram (of all places!) has led to what feels like a poetry resurgence. (Yeats is turning in his grave as you read this.) I found Rupi Kaur, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Nikita Gill, and Atticus on the gram—and felt my faith in the form renewed, knowing that poetry could be more than Shakespeare and iambic pentameter. It could be frivolous verses full of meaning written on a scrap piece of paper. It could be written by a lot of women of color.

In honor of poetry, and my renewed love of it, here are some of my favorite verses from fresh poets you should read to expand your appreciation of the genre—because there is so much more to it than Frost, Whitman, Dickinson, and Wordsworth. (Not that I am knocking them.)

This post was originally published on GetLiterary.com.

Poetry 101
by Susan Dalzell

Before you read poems, you should read about poetry. This pocket-sized book is quite literally a crash course in the genre (as the cover says). I love that it combines Shakespeare and Rupi Kaur in its vast history, and really paints a much fuller picture than what one typically studies in high school. You’ll learn about technical form, sub-genres, and acquire weird fun facts like how Rupi’s kerfuffle with Instagram in 2015 led to her position as an Internet spokesperson for feminism.

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Poetry 101
Susan Dalzell

Become a poet and write poetry with ease with help from this clear and simple guide in the popular 101 series. Poetry never goes out of style. An ancient writing form found in civilizations across the world, poetry continues to inform the way we write now, whether we realize it or not—especially in social media—with its focus on brevity and creating the greatest possible impact with the fewest words. Poetry 101 is your companion to the wonderful world of meter and rhyme, and walks you through the basics of poetry. From Shakespeare and Chaucer, to Maya Angelou and Rupi Kaur, you’ll explore the different styles and methods of writing, famous poets, and poetry movements and concepts—and even find inspiration for creating poems of your own. Whether you are looking to better understand the poems you read, or you want to tap into your creative side to write your own, Poetry 101 gives you everything you need!

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Modern Poets You Need to Read

By Shefali Lohia | October 11, 2018

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milk and honey
by Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur self-published milk and honey when she was just 22-years old, and since then she has become an extremely successful poet, social influencer, and tastemaker. The audiobook edition of milk and honey is read by Rupi herself, and (not to sound too cheesy) it’s truly magical.

“the way you speak of yourself
the way you degrade yourself
into smallness
is abuse”

—self harm

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milk and honey
Rupi Kaur

Now on audio! Rupi Kaur reads milk and honey, her New York Times bestselling collection of poetry and prose about survival, the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity.The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes listeners through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them—because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

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Modern Poets You Need to Read

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The Sun and Her Flowers
by Rupi Kaur

Rupi’s second collection—the sun and her flowers—came out just a year ago, and it’s as beautiful as her first. If you rip through both of these books (like I did), then you absolutely have to follow Rupi on Instagram for the poetry and art she continually posts.

“look at what they’ve done
the earth cried to the moon
they’ve turned me into one entire bruise”

—green and blue

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The Sun and Her Flowers
Rupi Kaur

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Love Her Wild
by Atticus

Atticus is another extremely popular “insta poets” out there, and his Instagram feed is filled with poetry, photographs, and art. This is my favorite poem from his first collection, Love Her Wild.

“Poetry’s magic
is that it is found when it’s needed.”

 

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Love Her Wild
Atticus

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The Dark Between Stars
by Atticus

Atticus’s second collection, The Dark Between Stars, is a beautiful follow-up to his first. The two books make a lovely (and very Instagrammable) set!

“Art has the answers
to many
of the questions
we weren’t brave
enough to ask.”

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The Dark Between Stars
Atticus

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Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better
by Madisen Kuhn

If you already know and love Rupi Kaur and Atticus, then Madisen Kuhn’s Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better is definitely the perfect read!

BONUS: Madisen wrote an exclusive piece for us on where she finds inspiration for her writing.

“Attach”

“i have become exactly what neither one of us wanted me to be—
believing i am incomplete with you.”

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Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better
Madisen Kuhn

Discover this exquisite poetry and prose collection about the pains of growing up from the popular millennial Instagram poet, perfect for fans of Amanda Lovelace and Rupi Kaur. Following her breakout debut Eighteen Years, poet Madisen Kuhn is thrilled to share this intimate portrait of a young woman navigating early adulthood and leaving her teenage years behind. Chronicling the complexities, joys, and challenges of this transitional phase of life, Please Don’t Go Before I Get Better is a powerful, deeply affecting work that pierces your heart with its refreshing candor and vulnerability. A poignant exploration of self-image, self-discovery, and self-reflection, this anthology brilliantly captures the universal experience of growing up, and you are bound to find yourself reflected in these glimmering pages.

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Adultolescence
by Gabbie Hanna

I was really (pleasantly) surprised when I learned that Gabbie Hanna—of Vine, YouTube, and Internet fame—had written a book of poetry. Though I was apprehensive at first, I found Gabbie’s verses to be extremely relatable, like “Self-Help” (below) or “Concealer.”

“they say focus on me, be the best i can be.
i think i’ve had enough time to myself;
i'm ready to share it with someone else.
if I’m honest, i've had enough of me.”

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Adultolescence
Gabbie Hanna

Comedian Gabbie Hanna brings levity to the twists and turns of modern adulthood in this exhilarating debut collection of illustrated poetry.In poems ranging from the singsong rhythms of children’s verses to a sophisticated confessional style, Gabbie explores what it means to feel like a kid and an adult all at once, revealing her own longings, obsessions, and insecurities along the way. Adultolescence announces the arrival of a brilliant new voice with a magical ability to connect through alienation, cut to the profound with internet slang, and detonate wickedly funny jokes between moments of existential dread. You’ll turn to the last page because you get her, and you’ll return to the first because she gets you.

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Modern Poets You Need to Read

By Shefali Lohia | October 11, 2018

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Heart Talk
by Cleo Wade

Cleo Wade is a force of love and nature. She is a writer, poet, artist, and public speaker. Her Ted Talk “Want to change the world? Start by being brave enough to care” is nothing short of inspiring, and her book of poetry, Heart Talk, is dedicated to self-care and uplifting the reader.

“Clean out your thoughts—
They have the power to cover
Your entire life in dirt.”

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Heart Talk
Cleo Wade

A beautifully illustrated book from Cleo Wade—the artist, poet, and speaker who has been called “the Millennial Oprah” by New York magazine—that offers creative inspiration and life lessons through poetry, mantras, and affirmations, perfect for fans of the bestseller Milk & Honey.True to her hugely popular Instagram account, Cleo Wade brings her moving life lessons to Heart Talk, an inspiring, accessible, and spiritual book of wisdom for the new generation. Featuring over one hundred and twenty of Cleo’s original poems, mantras, and affirmations, including fan favorites and never before seen ones, this book is a daily pep talk to keep you feeling empowered and motivated. With relatable, practical, and digestible advice, including “Hearts break. That’s how the magic gets in,” and “Baby, you are the strongest flower that ever grew, remember that when the weather changes,” this is a portable, replenishing pause for your daily life. Keep Heart Talk by your bedside table or in your bag for an empowering boost of spiritual adrenaline that can help you discover and unlock what is blocking you from thriving emotionally and spiritually.

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Modern Poets You Need to Read

By Shefali Lohia | October 11, 2018

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You/Poet
by Rayna Hutchison and Samuel Blake

If you’ve made it all the way down this list, then you probably really like poetry. The next step? Try your hand at it! You/Poetry is a journal-meets-writing-prompts-meets-how-to manual that teaches you the basics of writing, taking you through the technical aspects of form and structure, and how you can use them to shape the things you want to say. My favorite section is the micropoetry prompts, which inspires the kind of short form poetry you might find on Instagram!

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You/Poet
Rayna Hutchison and Samuel Blake

Offering a variety of advice for tapping into your creative voice, sharing your work online, and honing your writing skills, You/Poet shows you how to express yourself creatively through the art of poetry.You may think that writing poetry requires a specific set of skills. You may have read books on writing poetry that were stuffy and full of strict rules and regulations. But You/Poet proves that all you need to be a poet is the desire to share your inner thoughts and emotions with the world. Let HerHeartPoetry—an online poetry community, Instagram, digital zine, and poetry press—take you on a journey of self-discovery and surprise, and show you how to embrace the world of writing poetry with arms wide open. Writing poetry is an act of bravery. It’s just you, your thoughts and feelings, and the words you choose to express them. You/Poet can help you do just that. With encouragement and advice on poetry writing basics, how to identify your unique creative voice, and prompts and exercises to help you channel your thoughts and emotions through writing, this all-in-one guide will help you share your talent with the world.

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Modern Poets You Need to Read

By Shefali Lohia | October 11, 2018

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