Lockdown leaving you feeling a little uninspired? Why not pick up a poetry book. Now, when many of us hear the word ‘poetry’, we get flashbacks of stuffy classrooms, dissecting unengaging texts, trying to make sense of words written long before even our grandparents were born.
There is, however, a plethora of fun, fresh and engaging poetry books out there, that are easy to digest and ready for you to sink your teeth into. So if you fancy mixing up your reading list while we’re all tucked away at home, here are our top 5 poetry books to snuggle up with that will leave you feeling inspired.
‘Plum’ by Hollie McNish
‘Plum’, written by poet Hollie McNish, is a thoughtful, candid and occasionally rude retelling of McNish’s memories from childhood and adulthood. Throughout ‘Plum’, McNish allows her recent poems to be interrupted by earlier writing from her younger selves, with disarming and often very funny results.
This book tackles themes like growing up, friendships, work and play, all while displaying a beautiful celebration of life. What McNish executes brilliantly is encouraging us to embrace life in all its forms, to acknowledge that we are always growing, failing and evolving, ultimately continuously discovering new versions of ourselves. You will finish this brilliant book with an understanding as to why Holly is considered one of the most important poets of the new generation.
‘She Must Be Mad’ by Charly Cox
The writing debut of 22-year-old Charly Cox, ‘She Must Be Mad’ is a wonderful collection of poetry and prose. Often described as social media’s answer to Carol Ann Duffy, the Instagram poet and mental health campaigner’s work has been published in Refinery29, as well as being named as one of Elle magazine’s 20 power players to watch in 2018.
In this book, Cox tackles many of the obstacles we must navigate when coming of age, from falling in and out of love to nights out that don’t go quite as planned, all in a witty yet heartfelt tone. ‘She Must Be Mad’ is also an exceptionally powerful call to destigmatise mental health, encouraging a sense of community and a beautiful reminder that you are not alone.
‘I Would Leave Me If I Could’ by Halsey
Grammy Award-nominated musician Halsey bares her soul in the stunning ‘I Would Leave Me If I Could’. Spotlighted as one of the leading voices of her generation, Halsey shares never heard before poetry, discussing longing, love, and the nuances of her bipolar disorder.
Halsey brings the same level of thought, vulnerability and artistry so readily available in her lyrics, sharing the highs and lows of doomed relationships, family fractions, sexuality, and mental illness. The collection of autobiographical poems powerfully explores and dismantle ideas of what it means to be a feminist, providing a thought-provoking and rewarding read.
‘Instagram Poetry For Every Day’ by National Poetry Library
If you have traditionally found it challenging to get stuck into poetry, ‘Instagram Poetry For Every Day’ may be the perfect fit for you. The first of its kind, the book carefully curates over 100 poems by some of the world’s top social media channels in the ever-evolving world of digital poetry. Platforming a large and diverse range of voices, the poems tackle themes including mental health, women’s empowerment, racial prejudice, gender diversity and political turmoil.
Punchy, relatable and accessible, it’s a must-read, acting as an excellent introduction to the wonderful world of Insta-poetry for newcomers and seasoned fans alike.
‘My Name Is Why’ by Lemn Sissay
‘My Name Is Why’ follows the story of a young man who after a childhood in foster and care homes, is given his birth certificate. He soon learns that his real name is not Norman, it is instead Lemn Sissay and his mother had been pleading for his safe return to her since his birth.
The tale of a British-Ethiopian adolescent, Lemn’s story is one of juxtaposition, exploring neglect and determination, misfortune and hope, cruelty and triumph. Sissay reflects on his own childhood in care and Britishness, ultimately allowing him to examine the institutional care system, race, family and the concept of home.
A moving and frank memoir, the book is perfectly crafted, jam-packed with lyricism and emotion, solidifying Sissay as one of the nations best-loved poets.