5 Best Poetry Books, as Recommended by Acclaimed Writers

Jericho Brown, Maggie Smith, Eileen Myles, and others offer their picks for some of the best poetry books you can read right now.


There are several books of poetry that can pick and devour either for pleasure or study purposes. However, only a few of the ones at your disposal might be the darlings of your favorite writers.

This content lists and explains the best books of poetry, as recommended by popular writers.

To commemorate National Poetry Month in 2022, we asked Smith, Dimitrov, and a slew of other poets to tell us which poetry collections, old and new, they’re currently enjoying.


1. The Wilderness by Sandra Lim

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Sandra Lim’s book The Wilderness has captivated me. I’ve been returning to the collection since my teacher, Louise Glück, recommended it to me.

You can’t help but be impressed by the surprising, lush intelligence that flows through this unique, joyful book.

The Wilderness delves into the wilderness of the soul, consciousness, and memory: there’s a philosophical hunger at the heart of Lim’s erudite poems, which chronicle the bewildering uncertainty of our lives in energizing, original lines.


2. Soft Science by Franny Choi

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Soft Science, Franny Choi’s new collection, has me completely smitten. Franny is a fantastic innovator, constantly pushing the boundaries of poetry and language.

The book investigates the concept of softness, as well as what it means to be human in an increasingly inhumane world. Choi’s book, which plays on ideas of cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and the Asian body, forces us to question consciousness and what we consider normal.

A series of poems titled “Turing Test” run throughout to test the reader’s and author’s comprehension. Choi breaks down the language in poems like “Glossary of Terms,” where we learn that stars dream of being reached and that the opposite of the sea is a machine.


3. Plainwater by Anne Carson

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Understanding people means being perplexed by them. Is this Anne Carson’s main point in Plainwater? Is it the inverse? Perhaps it is because you cannot “live six months inside a frozen pear.”

Grief, pilgrimage, phenomenology, family, trout—whatever you think you know about a subject, Carson offers a new perspective. If you’re unfamiliar with her work and don’t know where to begin, you should start here.


4, Blud by Rachel McKibbens

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Rachel McKibbens, a spoken word poet, is one of my all-time favorites for her fierce yet vulnerable voice, which is as powerful on stage as it is on the page.

BLUD, her most recent collection, continues to inspire me with its rich metaphors and raw energy. These poems aren’t just read; they’re felt.

They infiltrate your soul and captivate you in the same way that music does. She also advocates for mental health, gender equality, and victims of domestic violence and abuse. Rachel is the genuine article.


5. Mary Wants to be a Superwoman by Erica Lewis

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“Did I understand that poem?” people wonder at times. But the real question is frequently, “Did I have the context to understand that poem?”

In Mary Wants to be a Superwoman, Erica Lewis provides readers with the context they need—an incredible introduction and collection of photographs so they can be swept up by fast-moving, pop-filled, history-steeped poems.

The book travels through time and space, spinning away from and back to Lewis’ mother Mary, with lines like “we are the reason / for one another / all of our spit and bling / old blues to cover a new blues / gratitude and dislocation / the notion of place / as passage and return / I love you.”

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Comments (1)

  1. […] 5 Best Poetry Books, as Recommended by Acclaimed Writers […]

    January 23, 2024 at 10:08 pm

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