30 Diverse Poetry Books You Should Read


Following my previous post about reading diversely, as well as the recent #diversebookbloggers hashtag that was started by Naz at Read Diverse Books, I decided to compile a diverse poetry list. I don’t do many  poetry book reviews but I do love poetry. Here is a list of 30 diverse poetry collections that I love. In lieu of book reviews, which I rarely do for poetry collections, I’ve attached excerpts to each title. Enjoy!

1. Selected Poems- Po Chu’ I (China)

I wish we could be trees deep in the mountains,
touching, twining limb around limb.

2. Unattainable Earth- Czeslaw Milosz (Poland)

Do not die out, fire.
Enter my dreams, love.
Be young forever,
seasons of the earth. –Winter

3. The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks (USA)

Life must be aromatic.
There must be scent,
somehow there must be some.

4. In the Presence of Absence- Mahmoud Darwish (Palestine)

My memory is like a pomegranate.
Shall I open it over you and let it scatter,
seed by seed:
red pearls befitting a farewell
that asks nothing of me except forgetfulness?

5. Horses Make a Landscape More Beautiful- Alice Walker (America)

We who have stood over
so many graves
know that no matter what they do
all of us must live
or none. –Each One, Pull One

6. The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion- Kei Miller (Jamaica)

We speak to navigate ourselves
away from dark corners and we become,
each one of us, cartographers.

7. She Says- Venus Khoury-Ghata (Lebanon/France)

I stuff the French language with loukoum, I teach it to do the belly dance.

8. Ossuaries- Dionne Brand (Canada/Trinidad)

I lived and loved,
some might say,
in momentous times,
looking back,
my dreams were full of prisons.- Ossuary I

9. Mercurochrome- Wanda Coleman (USA)

i wanted empathy & tea leaves,
answers & directions
toward a healing path. –Soft Boy

10. The Ink Dark Moon- Ono No Komachi (Japan)

No different, really—
a summer moth’s visible burning
and this body,
transformed by love.

11. Forbidden Words- Eugenio de Andrade (Portugal)

Books. Warmth,
their tender skin, serene. Loving
company. Willing always
to share the sun
of their waters. So docile,
silent, loyal.
So luminous in their
white and vegetal closed
melancholy. Loved
like no other companions
of the spirit. So musical
in the fluvial overflowing
ardour of the day.- On a Copy of the Georgics

12. Fugitive Suns- Andree Chedid (Algeria)

With spadefuls of petty life
We bury what outmeasures us
Eluding the fabulous intimacy
For the instant’s wage.

13. Redemption Rain- Jennifer Rahim (Canada/ Trinidad)

Honestly, I have no regrets.
Our talk is so full of recognition,
the light we generate makes night, day.

14. Fuel- Naomi Shihab Nye (USA/Palestine)

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.
A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.- The Rider


15. Spring Essence- Ho Xuan Huong (Vietnam)

How many thousands of years have you been there?
Why sometimes slender, why sometimes full?
Why do you circle the purple loneliness of night
and seldom blush before the sun?
Weary, past midnight, who are you searching for?
Are you in love with these rivers and hills?- Questions for the Moon

16. Bridge to the Soul- Rumi (Iran)

Rise. Do not keep stirring
the heavy sediment. Let
the murkiness settle.- A Northern Wind

17. Selected Prose and Poems- Gabriela Mistral (Chile)

At times your heart will be ready for harvest, like the fruits from which honey or oil is pressed.-The Dream

18. Language is not the Only Thing That Breaks- Proma Tagore (Canada/India)

for you to feel the warmth of your grandmother’s touch.
for sorrows
that this land keeps to unfold,
like the moon, into dreams,
to know that even in loss there is living transformation.
for us to live, reconnected, and your stories, this poem to have many beginnings.

19. She- Saul Williams (USA)

For all the ghosts and corpses that shall never know the breath of our children
so long
for the sacrifice and endurance of our mothers and the sustained breath of our fathers
we live

20. Behind My Eyes- Li-Young Lee (China/ USA)

I’m told I’m a fourfold mystery
like the planet, but I think more.
I mean, there are tears inside me I’ll never weep.

21. Sea Grapes- Derek Walcott (St. Lucia)

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at each other’s welcome,

and say sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self,
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love-letters from the bookshelf

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.—  Love After Love

22. Solar Throat Slashed- Aime Cesaire (Martinique)

I am a memory that does not reach the threshold
and wanders in the limbo where the glint of absinthe
when the heart of night breathes through its blowholes
moves the fallen star in which we contemplate ourselves.- The Griffin

23. The August Sleepwalker- Bei Dao (China)

A Perpetual stranger
am I to the world
I don’t understand its language
my silence it can’t comprehend
all we have to exchange
is a touch of contempt
as if we meet in a mirror

a perpetual stranger
am I to myself
I fear the dark
but block with my body
the only lamp
my shadow is my beloved
heart the enemy.- A Perpetual Stranger

24. A Little Larger than the Entire Universe- Fernando Pessoa (Portugal)

Whether we write or speak or are but seen
We are ever unapparent. What we are
Cannot be transfused into word or mien.
Our soul from us is infinitely far.
However much we give our thoughts the will
To make our soul with arts of self-show stored,
Our hearts are incommunicable still.
In what we show ourselves we are ignored.
The abyss from soul to soul cannot be bridged
By any skill or thought or trick for seeing.
Unto our very selves we are abridged
When we would utter to our thought our being.
We are our dreams of ourselves, souls by gleams,
And each to each other dreams of others’ dreams.

25. The Collected Poetry of Leopold Sedar Senghor (Senegal)

I am thirsty, so thirsty for space and new waters,
And to drink from the urn of a new face in the sun
Without hotel rooms or the crushing
Solitude of big cities driving me away.—  It is Time for Me to Go

26. The Selected Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca (Spain)

I sat down
in a space of time.
It was a backwater
of silence,
a white silence,
a formidable ring
wherein the stars
collided with the twelve floating
black numerals.— Pause of the Clock

 27. The Essential Neruda- Pablo Neruda (Chile)

And it was at that age … Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

28. Collected Poems of Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)

our thoughtful days
sat at dire controls
and played indolently.- 1966

29. Shake Loose my Skin- Sonia Sanchez (USA)

And I cried. For myself. For this woman talkin’ about love. For all the women who have ever stretched their bodies out anticipating civilizations and finding ruins.

30. The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry (Eds. Valerie Mason-John & Kevan Anthony Cameron)

When a hunger for our own vernacular
mingled with the passion of romanticism
a new language was born, on the page
on the stages of smoky coffee houses
deep in the heart of Harlem

In this Renaissance, we began to reclaim ourselves
Began to own our newly found freedom
to simply read and write, en masse
in public, to make love and meaning
from our suffering, to live our loud
word by word, on our own terms.- Andrea Thompson, A Brief History of Soul Speak


9 thoughts on “30 Diverse Poetry Books You Should Read

  1. What a wonderful post! I’m ashamed to say that I tend to neglect poetry in favour of fiction, and as a result don’t know where to start to find my way in. I’ve bookmarked this page so I’ve plenty of starting points. Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! I realized how well poetry helps me calm down when I’m stressed and can’t concentrate. I just randomly pick up poetry collections at the library and I’ve been very lucky with my picks so far:)

  2. This list is utterly amazing and such a wonderful resource!! I need to read more poetry, I tend to listen more to spoken word. I especially love the sound of Sonia Sanchez’ poems 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s