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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCNJ chapter.

For as long as I can remember I have always been a lover of poetry. I think it started with being a teacher’s pet in all of my English classes and whenever we reached the topic of analyzing poetry, it just came so easily to me. Poetry is the most beautiful way to put your feelings into words, even all the songs we listen to that just speak to our soul is a form of poetry. Over time whenever I had money in my pocket, I always made sure I headed to my nearest Barnes and Noble and added a new poetry book to my collection. Today I’m inviting you into my collection and introducing you to 5 poetry books I think speak to the soul!

  1. The first book we have is “Watering the Soul” by Courtney Peppernell. I figured out what better book to start off this list than a book that is actually dedicated to nurturing one’s soul. Courtney Peppernell divides this book into different sections: “Slow Down,” “Take a Breath,” “Embrace the Silence,” “Overcome Your Fear,” “Forgive Your Mistakes,” “Value Solidarity,” “Practice Patience and Gratitude,” “Choose Kindness,” and “Find Your Light,” and provides the reader a step by step recipe to healing your soul. She opens the book stating, “In the deepest, most enchanting part of the forest, a creature hands you a seed. Within the seed is your soul, ready to be grown again,” to help one understand how their soul can be “grown again,” and understand that “just as a seed is not grown with haste, neither is the path to becoming whole short, that in each and every step, we find the meaning of watering the soul.” This book mainly focuses on the themes of forgiveness, gratitude, togetherness, and equality. For me, it helped me direct less attention to all of the negative experiences I’ve dealt with in the past, and look forward to the future hope, optimism, and love have to offer me. My favorite excerpt from this book is:

“If there is something that you look for each and every day, look for hope. You will find it in a smile from your best friend, a wave from your neighbor, books you cannot put down, warm mugs of tea, a hug from someone you love, your favorite artist or song. You will find it in every corner, every pocket. Even if sometimes it feels as though hope is not there and you cannot see, hear, or feel it, know that as constant as the sun sets and rises, so too is hope on the horizon.” 

  1. The second book is “Pillow Thoughts Ⅱ: Healing the Heart” by Courtney Peppernell. A common theme in poetry is dealing with love and loss, heartaches and heartbreak, “Pillow Thoughts Ⅱ: Healing the Heart” is the perfect book that can assist you with dealing with those rough times of repairing your heart. She divides this book into the sections: “If your heart is in love,” “If your heart is aching,” “If your heart is missing someone,” “If your heart is happy,” and “These are for your heart.” This novel is filled with a collection of comforting and inspirational poems for anyone who is “mending from a broken heart.” Before diving into her poems, Peppernell opens the book with a little message for her readers stating, “Before we begin, I’d like to remind you of a story. Once upon a time, there was a jellyfish called You. You had been lost, You had been a little unsure, You tried very hard, and You began to heal. Now You must remind others that sometimes hearts ache. I hate to spoil the ending But You can heal hearts.” The book reminds people that they’re not alone when they experience situations involving their hearts. She reassures them that their feelings regarding their heartbreak are valid and the sun will shine again in their life; even if they suffer days filled with gloom and rain, there’s beauty within that hurt and pain. My favorite excerpt from this book is: 

“Feel it, all of it. The pain, the ache, the voice in your head screaming ‘Why did you stay for as long as you did?’ You are allowed to pity yourself, you are allowed nights where you can barely move from bed. There is no limit on the time it takes to heal. But you must continue to feel. You need to break and bend and then ask yourself when all the misery will end. Because it will end. One morning you will wake up and you will notice the sun, you will notice the newspaper on your front lawn and that the nightmares have gone, you will notice yourself and how far you’ve come in moving on.” 

  1. The third book is “Pillow Thoughts Ⅲ: Mending the Mind” by Courtney Peppernell. I promise all of the books on this list aren’t by Courtney Peppernell, she does a fantastic job speaking to one’s soul. Just like “Watering the Soul” this book is a “tribute to her readers who are bravely continuing their journey from hurt to healing.” After one deals with their feelings and repairs their heart, sometimes it can be a bit difficult to get their head to the same state of serenity. This book captures what everyone’s thinking and feeling regarding our own individual healing journeys. She opens this book similar to Pillow Thoughts Ⅱ, but she replaces some of the words by stating, “Before we begin, I’d like to remind you of a story. Once upon a time, there was a jellyfish called You. You had ventured with heart, You had repaired the cracks, You had filled the holes, and You had healed the heart. Now You must seek answers and find wisdom within the mind, I hate to spoil the ending But You can heal minds.” To me, this book is a combination of “Watering the Soul” and “Pillow Thoughts Ⅱ: Healing the Heart.” It emphasizes the complexity of productivity and exposes the burning thoughts one has in their mind that consume us until we’re stressed out. This is the book I should’ve paid more attention to this year, being that I’m in my Senior year. I dedicated so much time to stressing about life after graduation and being tough on myself because I felt like I wasn’t doing enough to secure something. This novel teaches one to do more than just exist; not in the context of overworking yourself, but in the context of lifting your face up from your textbooks to see how beautiful the sky is and witness life around you. Within every simple thing is beauty and that beauty should be acknowledged and appreciated. My favorite excerpt from this book is: 

“I hope you do more than just survive. I hope you act boldly without apologizing for who you are or the things you love. I hope you make art and listen to songs that make you sing out loud. I hope you discover new places and hidden coffee shops. I hope you fall in love with stories and dance in snowflakes and raindrops. I hope you achieve all your dreams and find the courage to love yourself. I hope you live.” 

  1. The fourth book is “Bloom for Yourself” by April Green. Green opens the book with a beautiful analogy stating, “healing is: allowing flowers to grow in all the places sadness has touched inside you,” and this book definitely attests to the evolution of allowing your flowers to bloom within you again. It contains three sections: “healing the roots,” “tender reminders,” and “reaching the sun.” The first section speaks to losing oneself and dealing with that grief. All the poems, in their own way, explain how you are unable to help and heal others if you have not healed your own wounds first. It helps one acknowledge their own emotions and restore their roots, then assists one in reintroducing themselves to others. The second section lives up to its title and provides one with reminders to never neglect oneself. It’s very easy for us to pour love and care into others and just as easy for us to forget to give ourselves that same love, affection, and attention. This section encourages you to express yourself authentically and to do it with grace. It reminds you that your opinions matter and your choices are valid. The third section is all about what to do with your growth and continuing to nurture your personal growth. It encourages one to look forward to the days ahead of them whether they’re good or bad. It provides one with the harsh reality that unfortunately we are going to be hurt a lot throughout our lifetime, and sometimes in more ways than one, but even though it’s a different situation, the feeling of pain and heartache isn’t different; you’ve dealt with it and have grown from it once, and you are capable and strong enough to grown from it again. It’s important to remember, no matter how cliche it is, that things are never happening to you but they are happening for you. You will always come out victorious no matter what you go through and that’s something to admire and appreciate. My favorite excerpt from this book is: 

“I hope that the day you find the strength to breathe and start again, is the day that you understand you can make your own rules: you are allowed to sit in solitude without explaining yourself. You are allowed to weep until the moon falls down and the sun rises. You are allowed to heal at your own pace, and forgive when you choose. You are allowed to leave some people and things behind. You are allowed to make as many positive beliefs, and as many healthy boundaries as you choose.” 

  1. The final book is “i love my love” by Reyna Biddy. This book surrounds the topic of loving other people and things very hard and not being given that same love in return. It directs attention to individuals, like myself, who subconsciously try to love themselves through others. In theory, this may not seem like an issue, but when you become reliant on the love from others when you are no longer receiving it, it can hurt like hell. The book is very short but the poems themselves are lengthy, and every single word can make your heart sink into your butt and your eyes become overwhelmed with tears. My favorite thing about this book is that it contains different love letters. Usually, love letters are addressed to other people, but Biddy addresses these love letters to the roast and present self. I love these letters because they contain the words that I wish I told myself. The sympathy, empathy, apologies, and love I wish I have given to myself are broken down in these letters, and for that, I will forever be grateful I stumbled upon this book. My favorite excerpt from this book is: 

“Love note: for anyone who cries themselves to sleep every night, for anyone who wakes up each morning wishing they hadn’t, for anyone whose heart feels like an open wound. For anyone who thinks life would be better without ‘em. for anyone bleeding misery from the inside out. for anyone who feels lonelier by the second. for anyone who questions their existence. for anyone who suffers hurricanes and tornadoes on the most beautiful days. i’ve been there. i get it. i remember praying to God out loud recently and i shocked myself when the words ‘some days i think i’m fine but most days my heart feels like it’s drowning. today feels like death, only less people remembering to love me’ came out. although i’ve never been suicidal i’ve dipped and out of depression. i’ve wondered when the pain will go away. i’ve wondered if i was normal. or if this feeling was normal…for anyone who feels hopeless and helpless…there is hope. things will get better. don’t cut yourself short by believing you have no purpose in this world. you’re special. we all are. never stop searching for your happy place. and once you find it, keep it close. and please!!! make homes out of something you can keep close forever, not some ‘one’ who’s temporary.” 

Jasmine is a Senior at The College of New Jersey, majoring in Woman, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and minoring in Social Justice. Her passion for writing began in elementary school when discovering Literacy/English was her favorite subject. As an aspiring African American Literature professor and Journalist, she loves to create writing pieces that shows the versatility of being a Black woman.