9 Poetry Collections To Read For A Meditative Break During Your Work Day

Most people need something to break up the monotony of a long work day, and is there anything more cathartic than reading a poem? Lately, I've gotten into the routine of reading poems during my lunch break, and it has been a great way to step back from the demands of my busy day. Poetry collections are perfect for lunch break reading, because though most poems are short enough to read in a matter of minutes, they have the stark ability to take you someplace entirely new.

But poetry is, and always has been, more than simply transportive. Poetry is inherently political, emotional, and spiritual. Reading a poem is a meaningful act, a form of listening to other's voices and experiences that resonates far deeper than the page. What I'm trying to say is that even if you spend your entire work day getting nothing done, reading a poem (any poem) over your lunch break is an important action that will have lasting effects. You can say you've accomplished something that day.

So here are some fantastic poetry collections that came out in 2018. Stash one of these by your desk and take it for a spin over your lunch break. Trust me, they'll put a little spark in your day.

'Oceanic' by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil has quickly become one of my favorite poets. In her latest collection, Nezhukumatathil writes lush, thoughtful poems that explore the natural world. With explorations that range from starfish to C-section scars, these poems exemplify Nezhukumatathil's flair for capturing the electricity in every moment and molecule.

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'The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic' edited by Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmonds, and Jamila Woods

This sizzling new anthology contains poems by today's most exciting Black female poets and "breaks up the myth of hip-hop as a boys’ club." This collection features work from Eve L. Ewing, Morgan Parker, Brittany Rogers, Diamond Sharp, and many more.

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'If They Come for Us' by Fatimah Asghar

Fatimah Asghar is the co-creator of the Emmy-nominated web series Brown Girls. In her debut poetry collection, Asghar explores the experience of being a Pakistani Muslim woman in America today. These poems are powerful and personal, and they will sit with you long after your lunch break has ended.

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'Cruel Futures' by Carmen Giménez Smith

The jacket copy of this collection calls itself a "Latina feminist State of the Union address at the intersection of pop culture and interiority." Carmen Giménez Smith chronicles life with a sharp eye, exploring mental illness, the media, womanhood, and more.

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'Not Here' by Hieu Minh Nguyen

Hieu Minh Nguyen is a queer Vietnamese-American poet, and his poems are simply breathtaking. This "big beating heart of a book" confronts whiteness, trauma, family, and nostalgia as it explores loneliness and hope.

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'New Poets of Native Nations' edited by Heid E. Erdrich

This incredible book is the first collection of 21st century Native American poets, which is definitely something to celebrate. Featuring a diverse array of poets and wide range of styles, this anthology delivers a pantheon of powerful voices that will electrify your afternoon.

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'Wade in the Water' by Tracy K. Smith

United States Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's new collection ties America's contemporary moment with its fraught history. Smith highlights voices that have been victims of erasure, including African Americans enlisted in the Civil War. This is definitely not light reading, but it is certainly essential.

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'Brood' by Kimiko Hahn

In this book, Kimiko Hahn concentrates on commonplace objects, like an overripe papaya or a soy sauce bottle. This is a collection of tiny gems that is perfect if you're looking for something quiet to meditate with on your break.

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'Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl' by Diane Seuss

Diane Seuss's previous collection, Four-Legged Girl, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, and her latest collection is equally delightful. Taking its title from a Rembrandt painting, this collection includes piece of that painting throughout, all of them forming a full picture of the work.

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