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March 21, 2017

14 New Poetry Picks for World Poetry Day

by Lynn Lobash. Manager of Reader Services

March 21, 2017

Happy World Poetry Day! We like to take advantage of these literary holidays and challenge our expert staff (evil, maniacal, laugh) so we asked them not only to name a poem, or poet, or collection they love, but also limited the field to include only works published in the past five years. There has been a lot of good stuff since Yeats. Get current with these contemporary poetry recommendations:



Milk and Honey

I was touched by Rupi Kaur's collection of poems, Milk and HoneyMy first impulse was "woah, these are some very sad, angry poems!" But, I love sad, angry poems.... 

The poems, which take on a plethora of the poet's painful life experiences, are accompanied by Kaur's plaintive line drawings, and in the end, describe how the poet found a salve in the sweetness that life has to offer. 

Sherri Machlin, Mulberry Street

More love for Milk and Honey

You see her poetry everywhere. It is so accessible and brilliant and raw!

Chantalle Uzan, Francis Martin


Twenty Girls to Envy Me

Twenty Girls to Envy Me by Orit Gidali

These beautiful selected poems are presented in both English and Hebrew, introduced by Marcela Sulak.

Jenny Baum, Jefferson Market





Motherland, fatherland, homelandsexuals

One of my recent favorites is Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals by Patricia Lockwood.  It contains the poem "Rape Joke" that many have already stumbled across in online postings (and if you haven't, it's worth picking up for that poem alone).  But the other poems in this collection, if not as accessible, are certainly as amusing and revelatory.

Leanna Frankland, Yorkville





Are you an echo?

I just came across Misuzu Kaneko, a Japanese poet whose work is full of innocent wonder for nature and sensitivity for life. Her poetry is often recommended to children, and the recently published Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko is a beautifully illustrated children's book that looks at her life and reproduces her poems in translation.

Jessica Cline, Mid-Manhattan



One of my favorite modern poetry books is IRL, a long-form poem by Brooklyn poet Tommy Pico. A gorgeous take on language, colonization, and what it means to be a queer indigenous person today.


Erica Parker, Mid-Manhattan





Mz. N

Mz. N by Maureen N. McLane has a fresh style that is fast and easy to read, but contains little ideas and ruminations that stick to your brain and invite a second, slower, glance. Mz. N is feminist poetry for bookish people--the poems talk about literary theory, art, history, and pop culture, all while providing vignettes of a young woman as she comes of age and discovers herself.

Nancy Aravecz, Jefferson Market




Black Maria

I like The Black Maria by the incandescent Aracelis Girmay.  Among other things, her latest collection touches on refugees in exile, the consequences of racism in America, and the larger question of human identity.  The book of poetry takes its name from the moon's dark plains, misidentified as seas by early astronomers.  I have always found Girmay's work to be thoughtful and transporting.

Melisa Tien, Library for the Performing Arts





I was captivated from the first verse by Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric. Her commentary on how race influences a sense of belonging in society was incredibly powerful. I particularly enjoyed the insight around Serena Williams and Zinedine Zidane and how even celebrities are not beyond the influence of race.

Katrina Ortega, Hamilton Grange





Letters to the men I have loved

Let's just say that am obsessed with this book. It is one of the most beautiful works I've read. In Letters, To the Men I Have Loved, poet Mirtha Michelle Castro Mármol writes about loss, hope, and the endless pursuit of love.  The beauty of this book is that it resonates with anyone who's experienced heartbreak and had the resiliency to move on.

Elisa Garcia, Bronx Library Center






I am obsessed with Look by Solmaz Sharif. To say it is devastating would be an understatement.  Her poems are a response to war and an invitation to examine the language we use to explain to ourselves what is happening in the world. Enthralling!

Elizabeth Baldwin, Mid-Manhattan







I love love love Linda Pastan.  Her most recent collection, Insomnia is wonderful--her poems are spare, poignant reflections on the seasons of everyday life. 

Susie Heimbach, Mulberry Street







I didn't think I was much of a poetry reader until I stumbled upon Felicity by Mary Oliver-- some of the poems took my breath away. I've suggested this to both long-time poetry connoisseurs and new-to-poetry readers who want to dabble in a new genre. 

Lyndsie Guy, Chatham Square






Life On Mars

Inspired by her MTA subway poem "The Good Life", I recently picked up Tracy K. Smith's Life on Mars, which won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Her poems combine imagery of the everyday with fresh twists and perspectives.

Suzanne Lipkin, Library for the Performing Arts






 Poems For You My Pretty

I like Poisoned Apples: Poems For You My Pretty by Christine Heppermann. A collection of feminist poems that unmask the fantasy of fairy tales and reveal what it means to be a modern teen girl - is she the heroine of her own story or a prisoner of societal expectations and her own insecurities? The poems are funny, sharp, harrowing, and heartbreaking but above brutally honest. 

Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street





 Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!



Lynn Lobash

View all posts by Lynn Lobash