Five Poetry Collections for People Who Don’t Usually Like Poetry

Poetry, as a genre or form, isn’t for everyone. People find it inaccessible, pretentious, or even just confusing. However, I firmly believe that there is some poetry out there for everyone. Here are five poetry collections to try out if you don’t usually enjoy poetry.

  1. 1. Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón

    Bright Dead Things is a beautiful, critically acclaimed collection by one of my favorite contemporary poets, Ada Limón. Reading Bright Dead Things feels like talking to a friend you haven’t seen in awhile and catching up on the events of their life. For me, reading this collection has consistently been like reading a novel with an excellent plot—I can’t put it down until I've finished.

  2. 2. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

    Elegantly walking the line between a novel and a poetry collection, Brown Girl Dreaming is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to read a collection of poetry but still prefers a cohesive plot. It is an excellent choice for younger readers, but it is a beautiful work no matter what age you are.

  3. 3. Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

    When I was starting to get more into poetry awhile back, this collection never failed to surprise me. Vuong has the ability to be both incredibly eloquent and fluid and shockingly blunt, leading to an achingly honest collection. Vuong allows his collection to carry a range of emotions and tones, and it is a privilege as a reader to be given a window into this deeply personal exploration.

  4. 4. The Wild Iris by Louise Glück

    The Wild Iris, by virtue of being told in alternating perspectives between humans, nature, and God, is both entirely accessible and entirely inaccessible. We can understand parts of it deeply, but other parts are difficult to fully grasp. However, this is okay, and even seems to be encouraged by the author. At a certain point, we learn to stop looking so hard for meaning and to simply listen. This is a great example of a poetry book that teaches you how to read it as you go along.

  5. 5. Button Poetry on Youtube

    OK, this one may be cheating, but I stand by it. For some people, poetry needs to be spoken out loud and heard to really be impactful. Some poems also demand reading out loud for themselves. On Button Poetry, you can find countless poets reading their work. Some are loud, passionate performers while others are more reserved, but there is someone for everyone.