Must Read Poetry Books

Reading poetry books can be one of the most rewarding activities for readers. It’s a wonderful way to explore the way words come together and express emotion, as well as to gain insight into the minds of poets. From the simplest haiku to lengthy epics, there are plenty of must read poetry books out there to explore and enjoy.

One great place to begin is with the classics. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, an English poet from the 14th century, is a shining example of a must read poetry book. Written in Middle English, the tales tell of a group of pilgrims as they journey from London to Canterbury, England. The journey provides a great opportunity to explore the writings of the poet, each of whom tell a unique story. From tales of chivalry and courtly love to the more sinful stories of lust, plenty of emotive topics are covered. It has been called “the first breakthrough in English literature” and has withstood the test of time.

Another classic must read is The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, which is a collection of poems written in the 12th century by Omar Khayyam, a Persian mathematician and astronomer. It is composed of quatrains (four lines) of rhyming words. The poems range from those that convey feelings of optimism and joy to those that express feelings of disillusionment and sadness. As well as expressing the emotions of the poet, the poems provide thoughts on faith, love, life and death. The work has become so popular, in fact, that Edward FitzGerald wrote an English translation, which made it even more accessible for modern readers.

The 19th century poet Emily Dickinson is another famous poet whose work warrants attention. She wrote a vast array of small and poignant poems that addressed a range of topics. Her poem “There is a certain Slant of light” is an example of how she managed to convey great emotion in only a few words. Dickinson is often deemed a “reclusive” poet, as she wrote much of her work alone and rarely sent her work out for publication. However, some of her best works are now widely available for readers to enjoy.

More modern literature also has a great selection of poetry books to read. John Keats was a major Romantic poet whose work often explored feelings of longing and sadness, and his 1819 poem “Ode to a Nightingale” often tops lists of must read poetry books. Collections such as Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, W. B. Yeats’s Wild Swans at Coole and T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land are also examples of works worth exploring, along with modern favorites like The Crow by Ted Hughes.

In more recent years, female poets have made a name for themselves in the poetry scene. Maya Angelou’s collection I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a must read and is regarded as one of the greatest books of modern times. Sylvia Plath’s Ariel is also a must read and expresses powerful emotions in its short lines. And there are plenty of other names from the modern day worth exploring, such as Ada Limón, Honey Lee Cottrell and Sharon Olds.

Adapting To Contemporary Readings

Poetry books have become much more accessible in recent years due to the popularity of digital and online publications. Poets are increasingly taking to mediums such as YouTube and audio books to get their work out to the masses. There is a kind of immediacy and interactivity to these new platforms that is proving popular with readers, with more and more people taking the time to experiment with new and different styles of poetry.

The success of books like Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey has also encouraged more authors to try out new forms of expression. Kaur’s poetic journey is rooted in themes of pain, healing, struggle and growth, and was recently turned into a stage production. Meanwhile, poets such as Warsan Shire, who wrote the introduction to Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade, has made the art of poetry more accessible to the masses.

Poetry books are being published more frequently, with many emerging authors being given the opportunity to make their work available to wider audiences. Publishers, too, have been investing in poets as they look to keep up with popular trends and find the next big thing in poetry.

How To Choose The Right Poetry

With so many different poetry books to choose from, picking just one can be tricky. It can be helpful to start small. Reading bite size haiku or limericks can be a great way to get to know the range and style of poetry, before delving deeper into works by established poets.

Many libraries offer readings and book clubs where readers can learn more about the craft before committing to a full length poem. Those interested in poetic criticism can explore websites, such as Poetry Foundation, which provide an in depth analysis of what makes certain poems of note.

Social media can also be a great source of inspiration, with poets increasingly taking to sites such as Instagram to showcase their work. A simple hashtag search can unearth a great selection of lesser known authors, as well as enable users to savor the work of the more established poets.

The Benefits Of Reading

Despite the many ways in which one can explore poetry, there’s something special about a good old fashioned book. Reading physical copies of books can raise levels of feel good chemicals, such as serotonin, and can even induce a state of calming mindfulness.

Imparting wisdom and offering a great literary experience, it’s no surprise that so many readers have come to appreciate the art of poetry. With a stellar selection of must read poetry books available across all eras, what better way to explore the boundaries of language and emotion than by diving head first into a good book of verse?

History Of Famous Poets

The stories behind the poets are often as compelling as their work. For example, Christopher Marlowe, author of the must read book The Tragedy of Doctor Faustus, was a passionate poet and playwright who died tragically at the age of 29, possibly as a result of a drinking game gone wrong. Meanwhile, Dante Alighieri, author of the famous Divine Comedy, clashed with the powerful political forces in Florence and was eventually exiled from the city.

These writers’ works have transcended time and place, providing readers with a glimpse into the world at the time when these poets wrote. It’s no wonder that so many readers become fascinated with the writers behind the works and dive deeper into the history and stories of the writers.

Verse On The Big Screen

Poetry is increasingly being featured on the big screen. Feature films, such as The Color Purple, Twelve Years a Slave and Dead Poets Society, have all had great success in showcasing the beauty of the poetic form. Meanwhile, short films, such as Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It and Steven Spielberg’s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, have gained plenty of praise for their success in bringing verse to the world of film.

Poetry has long been a source of inspiration for filmmakers, with many productions drawing upon the language and structure of the art form to create powerful images and captivating stories. And with the scope of poetry seemingly widening, the art form is only likely to grow in influence.

Creating Your Own Poetry

Poetry can be a great form of relaxation and mindfulness, as well as providing a great platform to express thoughts and feelings. Poets often cite specific events, people or places as catalysts for their writing, so it’s no surprise that so many readers take to writing their own poetry to capture moments and create work based on their personal experiences.

Books and. websites abound that provide guidance in writing poetry, with a range of advice and ideas on where to begin. The best way to start is often by immersing oneself in the work of renowned poets, such as Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Bishop and Emily Dickinson, and experimenting with words and metaphors. The beauty of poetry is that it allows readers to express their ideas in a creative and innovative way, and can often be used to commemorate special occasions and mark meaningful moments in life.

Minnie Walters is a passionate writer and lover of poetry. She has a deep knowledge and appreciation for the work of famous poets such as William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and many more. She hopes you will also fall in love with poetry!

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