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Reading poetry can sometimes seem intimidating. Where do you start? Who do you read first? 

Today, I’ve put together some quick recommendations for you to get started.

1. Hanif Abdurraqib

In addition to being a poet, Hanif Abdurraqib is also an essayist and poet. He’s written broadly about love, pop culture, and what it means to be alive. I love his insightful commentary into what it means to live in America, and the earnestness he approaches music with.

For a poem, check out “I Tend to Think Forgiveness Looks the Way It Does in the Movies,” or “It's Just That I'm Not Really Into Politics.” 

For Abdurraqib in other areas, check out his book of essays on music (from Bruce Springsteen to Carly Rae Jepsen) They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, or his recently released A Little Devil In America, which discusses Black performance and how it’s intertwined with American culture.

2. Danez Smith

Danez Smith writes straight to the heart of things, and always with life. They’ve authored several books of poetry, and cohost a podcast on poetry with Franny Choi.

For poetry from them, try “alternate names for black boys,” or “crown.”

For a full collection of poetry from them, try Homie. Written after the loss of one of their friends, it tackles friendship, and joy, even in grief. 

3. Mary Oliver

The first Mary Oliver poem I ever heard was in high school, and Wild Geese still gets me today. Read Oliver for prose that gets right to the heart of nature, and of life. 

In addition to “Wild Geese”, check out "Forty Years," or "Death a Great Distance." 

For Oliver in prose, check out Upstream, a collection of essays.

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Kathleen Singleton is a senior at Central Washington University. When not making tea and painting, Kathleen can be found writing, both professionally and creatively.
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