Summer Poetry Reads That Will Make You Feel Smarter in 5 Minutes a Day – Kveller
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Summer Poetry Reads That Will Make You Feel Smarter in 5 Minutes a Day

I believe in the power of the written word. Whatever the season, I’m a huge reader–although there is something about summer that makes lounging at home or on the beach or in the small moments (like in the bathroom away from your kids), so necessary.

Poetry is kind of perfect for anyone who doesn’t have time to dedicate to 300 page novels (and I mean, poetry is pretty awesome in general). You could read a poem a day, for instance, which is not a huge time commitment.

Because of that, I rounded up some poetry books written by women that will make you smarter (and feel less alone!):

1. Tracy K. Smith – “Life on Mars

Poet Laureate of the United States

This is Smith’s third book–her poetry is lush, honest, and intimate. She fuses pop culture with the narrator’s confessions of sorts. Smith just became the Poet Laureate of the United States, so you know, she knows a thing or two about good writing. Her next book is forthcoming–and let’s just say, I can’t wait.


2. Patricia Lockwood – “Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals

Lockwood is a genius–she is one of the few writers who I can definitely say this about, and I’ve never even met her. Her book was named the best of the year by heavyweights such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Buzzfeed–and rightly so, considering the book is a necessary reflection on gender and sexuality in our modern world.

3. Maggie Smith – “Disasterology

This book is dark, clever, funny, and full of disaster. Any parent can relate to this, and since Smith is also a parent herself, she knows a thing or two about disasters. She recently wrote a poem that went viral about parenthood:

4. Morgan Parker – “There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce

Parker is bold–and she has to be. She writes about black womanhood, which couldn’t be more necessary in this political climate. This is her second book, which has been lauded by places like NPR and TIME. The New Yorker wrote:

“This singular poetry collection is a dynamic meditation on the experience of, and societal narratives surrounding, contemporary black womanhood. . . . Ranging from orderly couplets to an itemized list titled after Jay Z’s “99 Problems” to lines interrupted by gaping white space, these exquisite poems defy categorization.”

5. Lynn Melnick  & Brett Fletcher Lauer – “Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation

This is an anthology of contemporary poets we need to keep our eyes and ears on. Lauer and Melnick did an amazing job choosing work by diverse poets, including Leigh Stein, Dorothea Lasky, Ben Mirov, Major Jackson, and more. It’s the type of book you can share with your older kids, too.

6. Brenda Shaughnessy – “So Much Synth

Shaughnessy writes about the realities and harshness of life, but in a way where it’s accessible and not overly dramatic. She is a master of this in her fourth collection, which focuses on middle age, memories, music, and love.

7. Joshua Jennifer Espinoza – “There Should Be Flowers

Espinoza’s collection will make you cry and laugh, and then repeat again for a long, long time. Her second collection focuses on her experiences being transgender and queer, and how to live in a world where gender binaries and sexual heteronormativity are seen as the norm–and what it’s like not being inside that neat category. From PEN America:


8. C.D. Wright – “Shallcross

C.D. Wright’s word are a gift to us. Sadly, Wright passed away last year, leaving the lit community devastated. This is the last book of poetry Wright published before her untimely death, which captures everyday strangeness into short, sparse poems.

9. Claudia Rankine – “Citizen: An American Lyric

This is Rankine’s second book, which was a Finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry, and it centers around race and racial aggressions in the U.S., whether at the supermarket, on the tennis court with Serena Williams, or in the classroom. It’s a must-read for anyone who wants to learn.

Check out more of our book lists here.

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