Books I Love: Five Poetry Collections You Should Read

Best Poetry Collections You Should Read

Today I'd like to share five poetry collections I think you should read. If you didn't already know, I'm quite new to poetry (both reading and writing it) and discovering new-to-me poems, poets and collections of poetry has been one of the greatest journeys I've enjoyed in recent years.

Below are five books I have loved discovering and I recommend these books to anybody who shows half an inch interest in poetry. Poetry collections have many benefits over longer form writing, as they are shorter and easier to digest when reading more than a page or two feels hard (which has very much been the case in 2020, amIright?), and I also happen to think each of these poetry collections also offer great comfort as well as ever evolving meaning and enlightenment at various points in our lives; in other words, they are books to be kept and picked up again and again.

You can read all about how I wrote 100 poems in 100 days here, and I have also created shopping lists for my favourite poetry collections here on (USA) and also here for Bookshop UK, so you can support indie booksellers if you do want to buy one or two of these books.

DISCLOSURE: Yes, they are affiliate links, so thank you for supporting me too!

My Favourite Poetry Collections

Devotions by Mary Oliver - Let me be clear and say that you could, and possibly should, buy any poetry collection by Mary Oliver and will not be disappointed. She is to poetry what Mary Berry is to the Great British Bake Off, or what Aretha Franklin was to soul music. You cannot love poetry and not appreciate Mary Oliver's contribution to it, or at least acknowledge it. But Devotions is the largest compilation of Mary Oliver's poems so it really is one of the best poetry collections to own.

I particularly love this collection because it's a well-put together overview of her life's work and yet still leaves you plenty of space and curiosity to look up or buy other selected poems she compiled over the years. I also have to give a special mention to her other books A Poetry Handbook and The Rules of the Dance for understanding the importance of structure and rhythm in both reading and writing poetry, and I also personally loved her collection of nature-inspired essays, Upstream.

Bone by Ysra Daly-Ward - While I did enjoy her memoir The Terrible more, Bone is a raw, original and authentic work of art. Her first collection of poetry, which was originally self-published in 2014 after British born Ysra Daley-Ward's writing became popular on Instagram and other social media, Bone is now published by Penguin and has reached a much broader audience. 

I have many of the poems in Bone to thank for falling in love with poetry five or so years ago (when I first started following Daley-Ward's work on Instagram) and as a writer, I love how the author and poet continues to share her works in progress, her journaling and even some writing prompts on social media giving her work that bit more depth.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur - While it's possible you may not have heard of Ysra Daley-Ward, it's unlikely you've not heard of Rupi Kaur and possibly also her debut poetry collection Milk and Honey. Considered, and often called, the Queen of #instapoetry, Rupi Kaur's debut work is not to be dismissed as a much-hyped book that was rushed to publication on the back of her Insta fame (pun intended). While yes, it was and is much-hyped, I have to say it's with merit.  

There is an authenticity and originality in the pages of this book that spoke very strongly to me and actually, the poems and prose flow much better in the format of a book than they do read in an app on your phone. I have since bought and read her second collection The Sun and her Flowers, and for me, Milk and Honey is really the better, more eclectic, brave, and brilliantly unapologetic of the two books.

Neon Soul by Alexandra Elle

Yes, I'll admit this is another poet and author I discovered on Instagram, but I am SO happy I did. Alexandra Elle's affirmations, self-exploration prompts and healing prose were crucial in my own journey with affirmation, and so I was very keen to own one of her collections of work as she has published (yes - another great indie author!) many books that act as journal guides and prompts, as well as collections of essays, poetry and prose.

This one is possibly the most poetry-focused, but many of the poems still read like affirmations and positive thinking, which is no bad thing. Highly recommend Neon Soul if you like your poetry short, soothing, and thought-provoking.

Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni

Before all of the above Instapoets rose to fame, alongside Mary Oliver, there was and still is Nikki Giovanni. Her poems have the same impact as Ysra, Rupi and Kaur, but she also has the same depth and devotion to language that Mary Oliver has. 

A civil rights activist and Black feminist, Giovanni's activism is often what she is better known as which is perhaps also because her activism and poetry often overlap (as you can read in these 10 poems). With over 50 years of poems written and published, to dive into her work is a real joy and exploration, but I started with Love Poems which I highly recommend as it really goes to the heart of what poetry is often all about for me; love.

Now that was five books of poetry you should read, but I would also like to recommend a few more because I never know when to stop. These are New Testament and The Tradition by Jericho Brown, a book where poems are prescribed for certain mental health ailments in The Poetry Pharmacy Collected Poems by William Sieghart (and a second volume here), and these anthologies with a poem for each day or each night of the year.

Aaannnddd... Lover Mother Other by Me!

Of course I'm going to be cheeky and add on my own collection of poetry, Lover Mother Other. It's sub-title is Poems About Love, Motherhood & Everything Else Womxn Transcend so I hope this helps tells you what the poems in this book, my debut poetry collection, are all about. As I also write in the book's blurb, there's a lot of hurting and learning in this book, but a lot of healing too. I hope it brings you this especially.

You can buy Lover Mother Other as an ebook or paperback on Amazon here, or you can buy directly from my shop as an ebook or a signed paperback which I will happily personalise for you.

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Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

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