There are two types of people in the world: those who enjoy poetry and those who have never read the kind of poetry they enjoy. No matter which category you and your circle fall into, I've got 15
poems you can read with your partners and friends to discover your love of poetry.
If you think you don't like poetry, don't worry. I know exactly how you feel. I didn't discover just how much I enjoyed non-musical lyricism until the first day of my university Composition II class, when the professor asked us to interpret two poems: "she being Brand" by e.e. cummings, which is included on the list below, and
"Dulce et Decorum est" by Wilfred Owen, which is not. I later took a creative writing class with that same professor, who forced us to write poetry until we bled rhyme and meter and feeling all over the place. It was wonderful.
Many of the poems below may be familiar to you. One is a dreaded
sonnet, and the aforementioned cummings piece will challenge you if you pause at the end of every line. Not all of the formatting — the stanza divisions in particular — has translated here, but the rampant punctuation in "she being Brand" has not been left out.
Check out my suggested poems for you to read with your partners and friends below, and be sure to share your favorites with me on
Twitter! 1"Bleecker Street, Summer" by Derek Walcott Summer for prose and lemons, for nakedness and languor, for the eternal idleness of the imagined return, for rare flutes and bare feet, and the August bedroom of tangled sheets and the Sunday salt, ah violin! When I press summer dusks together, it is a month of street accordions and sprinklers laying the dust, small shadows running from me. It is music opening and closing, , on Bleecker, Italia mia , Antonio, and the water-cries of children ciao tearing the rose-coloured sky in streams of paper; it is dusk in the nostrils and the smell of water down littered streets that lead you to no water, and gathering islands and lemons in the mind. There is the Hudson, like the sea aflame. I would undress you in the summer heat, and laugh and dry your damp flesh if you came. 2"Welcome Home" by Warsan Shire all the girls you’ve ever loved, i think i loved them too. interlude for the grand sonata every mouth you’ve ever kissed all the bodies you’ve ever undressed were preparing you for me. i don’t mind tasting them in the a single suitcase still on the conveyor belt did it take you long to find me? 3"Ways of Talking" by Ha Jin We used to like talking about grief Our journals and letters were packed with losses, complaints, and sorrows. Even if there was no grief we wouldn’t stop lamenting as though longing for the charm Then we couldn’t help expressing grief So many things descended without warning: labor wasted, loves lost, houses gone, marriages broken, friends estranged, ambitions worn away by immediate needs. Words lined up in our throats for a good whining. Grief seemed like an endless river — the only immortal flow of life. After losing a land and then giving up a tongue, we stopped talking of grief Smiles began to brighten our faces. We laugh a lot, at our own mess. even hailstones in the strawberry fields. 4"Letter to My Wife" by Miklós Radnóti Lager Heidenau, about Zagubica: in the mountains. Aug.-Sept. 1944 Beneath, the nether worlds, deep, still, and mute. Silence howls in my ears, and I cry out. No answer could come back, it is so far from that sad Serbia swooned into war. And you're so distant. But my heart redeems your voice all day, entangled in my dreams. So I am still, while close about me sough the great cold ferns, that slowly stir and bow. When I'll see you, I don't know. You whose calm is as the weight and sureness of a psalm, whose beauty's like the shadow and the light, whom I could find if I were blind and mute, hide in the landscape now, and from within leap to my eye, as if cast by my brain. You were real once, now you have fallen in to that deep well of teenage dreams again. Jealous interrogations: tell me; speak. Do you still love me? will you on that peak of my past youth become by future wife? — But now I fall awake to real life and know that's what you are: wife, friend of years, — just far away. Beyond three wild frontiers. And Fall comes. Will it also leave with me? Kisses are sharper in the memory. Daylight and miracles seemed different things. Above, the echelons of bombers' winds: skies once amazing blue with your eyes' glow are darkened now. Tight with desire to blow, the bombs must fall. I like in spite of these, a prisoner. All of my fantasies I measure out. And I will find you still; for you I've walked the full length of the soul, the highways of countries! — on coals of fire, if needs must, in the falling of the pyre, if all I have is magic, I'll come back; I'll stick as fast as bark upon an oak! And now that calm, whose habit is a power and weapon to the savage in the hour of fate and danger, falls as cool and true as does a wave: the sober two times two. 5"I do not want to have you to fill the empty parts of me" by Rupi Kaur i do not want to have you to fill the empty parts of me i want to be full on my own i could light a whole city 6"Narcissist Advice Column" by Hinemoana Baker Pepper blacks the pan so never shake it near me. Wait for the flagrant animation in my bedroom, in my bed base. In mountaineering situations sleep swaddled, wake ecstatic my frantic menus in your mind. I taste of them all. Refuse to refuse me. Waste your time on my errands. Squeeze your lime on my lemons. Turn up wearing the whole bird not just the feathers. 7"Tonight" by Ladan Osman There is no couple chatting by the recycling bins, offering to help me unload my plastics. There is not even the black and white cat that balances elegantly on the lip of the dumpster. There is only the smell of sour breath. Sweat on the collar of my shirt. A water bottle rolling under a car. Me in my too-small pajama pants stacking juice jugs on neighbors’ juice jugs. I look to see if there is someone drinking on their balcony. I tell myself I will wave. 8"This Is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams 9"Confession" by Linh Dinh Perhaps I'm a cruel artist. I always depict In great details, lovingly, all the defects On the faces and bodies of my models. I use my eyes and brushes to thread The jagged gaps of their stiff smiles. I pamper Each pimple, hump, massage each incrustation. I cajole my models into poses that are awkward, Dangerous, unhygienic, sometimes mortifying. I don't care to paint smooth, poreless skin but collect All manners of rashes and eruptions. Inspired, I've forced a hundred bodies — impossibly old, Extremely young — onto appalling heaps, Democratically naked, viscous with sweat, spit and etc., Just so I could render the human condition Most accurately and movingly. 10"Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art" by John Keats Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art— Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night And watching, with eternal lids apart, Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite, The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure ablution round earth's human shores, Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask Of snow upon the mountains and the moors — No — yet still stedfast, still unchangeable, Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast, To feel for ever its soft fall and swell, Awake for ever in a sweet unrest, Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath, And so live ever — or else swoon to death. 11"Ah, Ah" by Joy Harjo Ah, ah cries the crow arching toward the heavy sky over the marina. Lands on the crown of the palm tree. Ah, ah slaps the urgent cove of ocean swimming through the slips. We carry canoes to the edge of the salt. Ah, ah groans the crew with the weight, the winds cutting skin. We claim our seats. Pelicans perch in the draft for fish. Ah, ah beats our lungs and we are racing into the waves. Though there are worlds below us and above us, we are straight ahead. Ah, ah tattoos the engines of your plane against the sky — away from these waters. Each paddle stroke follows the curve from reach to loss. Ah, ah calls the sun from a fishing boat with a pale, yellow sail. We fly by on our return, over the net of eternity thrown out for stars. Ah, ah scrapes the hull of my soul. Ah, ah. 12"she being Brand" by e.e. cummings careful of her and(having thorogouhly oiled the universal joint tested my gas felt of her radiator made sure her springs were O. K.)i went right to it flooded-the-carburetor cranked her up,slipped the clutch(and then somehow got into reverse she minute i was back in neutral tried and again slo-wly;bare,ly nudg. ing(my oh and her gears being in greasedlightning)just as we turned the corner of Divinity avenue i touched the accelerator and give was the first ride and believe i we was happy to see how nice she acted right up to the last minute coming back down by the Public 13"From the Artist's Sketchbook" by Annette M'Baye No . . . not entirely black. He has that bluish-white at the edge of his eyes Open upon a smile of expensive pearls. Offer your unpristine hand to the daylight, Say hello, fearlessly, to your life. 14"America" by Claude McKay Although she feeds me bread of bitterness, And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth, Stealing my breath of life, I will confess I love this cultured hell that tests my youth. Her vigor flows like tides into my blood, Giving me strength erect against her hate, Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood. Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state, I stand within her walls with not a shred Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer. Darkly I gaze into the days ahead, And see her might and granite wonders there, Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand, Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand. 15"Remembering the Plot" by Julie Suk Today drifts into yesterday. the food eaten, rooms cleaned. Same with books. You read, that someone floated off, finally, from years of solitude, and danced naked in a bowler hat. But the nose has a better memory, whole lives waft back, the moments pulled out by a random scent. And you stand in the street the aroma of a man's cigarette the way his fingers pressed suddenly stricken with sunlight.