Last year, I made a mission to read all the poetry collections that I could get my hands on (and that I could afford) after I spontaneously picked up Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey and fell in absolute and overwhelming love. So I thought, in the spirit of upcoming holidays, how about I write a list of the top poetry collections that I have read in the space of a year!? Nothing is more awesome than giving your mum, your best friend, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your aunt who isn’t your aunt but you call her that from fear of death.
I got you, boo.
Here we go:
1. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur 5/5
This is the ultimate collection of poetry that will hit you in the heart. I was sobbing by the last page. Rupi Kaur has the genius ability to capture pain, suffering, love, lust, anger and betrayal in just a few words. She is a master lyricist, pulling emotions from the songs of her experiences. It emphasises how pain and love are universal emotions because we all can somehow relate. And that is the beauty of this collection. One of the best ever published, and every single person must read this.
And I just bought her second collection The sun and her flowers and I am extremely excited to get into it.
2. Salt by Nayyirah Waheed 5/5
I honestly believe that this poetry collection needs to be read at secondary schools for VCE English or Literature (this is the senior certificate of education here in Victoria, Australia) because Nayyirah Waheed articulates the journey of life and it considers the structures of oppression, systemic racism, police brutality, and the soul of the survivor. Just a snippet – I’ll share one of my favourite poetry verses:
you broke the ocean in
half to be here.
only to meet nothing that wants you.
(Waheed, 2013, p. 5)
I remember reading that and nearly breaking down in hysterics because Nayyirah Waheed has the power to grab you by the heart and yank you in until you are submerged in nothing but waves of emotions that have the capacity to completely drown you. She enables you to see and critique the world around you. Read it.
3. Soft Magic by Upile Chisala 4/5
This collection was majestic. Pure, unfiltered magic. Upile Chisala shares in her poetry a journey of healing which touches on issues of gender, love, diaspora and explores blackness, spirituality and the self. Truly a wonderful collection of poetry that pushes the reader to think critically about themselves and their society. The way in which Upile Chisala considers spirituality and how she writes it is magnificence personified. Read it.
4. The princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace 5/5
I remember seeing the title and thinking YAS GIMME PLEASE. This is absolutely kick ass. This collection considers the woman, her relationships and her love – for both her significant others and for herself- and you observe her going through three stages towards self-discovery: the princess, the damsel, and the queen. A fourth chapter is titled you, and it aims at specifically addressing the reader about personal empowerment, self-love, healing and dusting oneself off and getting yo shit together. You move through the journey of a woman attempting to find herself and understand her place and her emotions and her heart, in a world of patriarchy and betrayal. Although, I would have to say that I would not recommend this to women and men above a certain age – say 3035? Only because, I would find it extremely difficult for some to engage with the poetry as it can be corny and cliche at times. Read it.
5. A room of one’s own by Virginia Woolf
Ok, I know, this book isn’t actually a poetry collection. And I was going to talk about The Universe of Us by Lang Leav – but, I don’t really like her poetry all that much. I find that I gravitate towards poetry that is more than just about love? With the above poetry collections, their message is more than just finding a happy ever after with someone, they are critical about the reality we live in. So, I thought to follow in those footsteps, Virginia Woolf’s A room of one’s own is actually one of my all-time favourite novels of all time. If you haven’t read it, please do. There is something so incredibly sad that a woman talking about sexism and gender inequality and the oppressive nature of the patriarchal system in the early 1900s, is still relevant in 2017. Let that sink in. Virgina Woolf is amazing and I need to read all her books, as I find her writing incredibly crafted, witty, intelligent and utterly poignant. This is a must-read.
There you have it! Some of my favourite poetry collections of all time, plus one of my favourite novels of all time. If any of you have any recommendations, please leave a comment down below! I am always on the lookout for more poetry books to gobble up and grace my shelves!
Happy reading y’all!