After a seemingly never-ending winter, spring is finally here and has brought with it National Poetry Month, April's month-long celebration of all things poetic and lyrical. There are a million different ways to participate in is incredible literary tradition, from attending a local poetry slam to starting your own poetry book club, but no matter how you decide to do it, make sure you include these feminist poetry collections in your festivities.
In a world where they're so often ignored or all together silenced, women have always relied on art as a form of expression and empowerment. Poets have even figured out how to weaponize it. From Adrienne Rich to Audre Lorde, Maya Angelou to Carol Ann Duffy, feminist poets have been using their writing as not only to express themselves, but to share women's stories, and the story of the movement. Just this January at the Women's March on Washington, Ashley Judd read 19-year-old Nina Donovan's poem "Nasty Woman" to the hundreds of thousands of protesters who showed up to fight for justice and equality less than 24 hours after the new administration took office. Like music, writing, and other forms of art, poetry has the power to inspire, to provoke, to motivate, to connect, and to educate, and when it comes to feminism, sometimes, there couldn't be an easier messenger.
Here are nine feminist poetry collections to read for National Poetry Month.
'Milk and Honey' by Rupi Kaur
Born of Instagram fame, Rupi Kaur is the modern poet the internet age of feminists has been waiting for. Her debut collection Milk and Honey takes a deep and emotional dive into love and loss, weakness and empowerment, and what exactly it means to be a modern woman. Filled with short lyrical poems that pack a powerful punch in just a few lines, this collection will leave you feeling inspired.
'the princess saves herself in this one' by Amanda Lovelace
This title says it all: Amanda Lovelace's empowering book of inspiring poems for women who want to choose their own fates. Broken into four parts, the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you, the princess saves herself in this one is a collection specifically created to not only explore the life of the author, but to embrace all of the complicated emotions that go along with love, loss, grief, empowerment, and so much more.
'Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth' by Warsan Shire
As heard on Beyoncé's now iconic album Lemonade, the unforgettable Warsan Shire poems that make up this collection will stay with you long after you read (or hear) them. Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth is a brilliant series of powerful poems that cover everything from sensuality in Islam to love and blackness in modern America. Searing and inventive, you'll want to add this to your Poetry Month reading list ASAP.
'New American Best Friend' by Olivia Gatwood
Growing up is hard, but growing up a girl? Take it from Olivia Gatwood's insightful collection New American Best Friend, it's even more complicated. Sharp, humorous, and heartfelt, each one of these poignant poems is a story in itself, and together weaves a beautiful saga of American girlhood.
'Blackacre' by Monica Youn
Long-listed for the 2016 National Book Award for poetry and consistently named one of the best books of the year, Monica Youn's stunning Blackacre is the exact reason we celebrate poetry in April. A lyrically dazzling and emotionally evocative, its a smart and daring collection that you'll want to read again and again.
'Reversible' by Marisa Crawford
Be prepared to be washed in nostalgia when you crack open Marisa Crawford's new collection Reversible. Fun yet powerful poems starring alt rock bands like Nirvana, cultural icons like Courtney Love, and regular girls from the '90s we can all relate to, Crawford's work mixes pop culture, social commentary, and vivid memory in this this unabashedly feminist collection. It will have you highlighting more favorite lines than not.
'we carry the sky' by mckayla robbin
If you're looking for inspiration and female empowerment, look no further than mckayla robbin's debut collection we carry the sky. Poem after beautiful poem is dripping with inventive language, powerful imagery, and intellectual challenges that have readers at once celebrating and engaging in the fight for feminism.
'Imaginary Vessels' by Paisley Rekdal
Explore identity, womanhood, feminism, art, and more through inanimate objects in in Paisley Rekdal's Imaginary Vessels. A collection of short and lyrical poems and long and imaginative sonnets, this book and accompanying drawings will make you glad to have April as an excuse to engage in the work.