Suggestions for National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month in America, so I’m sharing a few poetry-related suggestions.

Maya Angelou

Although Maya Angelou wrote beautiful poetry like “Phenomenal Woman” and “Still I Rise”, if I could only recommend one of her books, I’d have to go with one of her autobiographies. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is about the first 17 years of her life, and if you need to read more after you finish it, then you’re in luck because Angelou wrote five additional books about her life.

Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni’s poem “Knoxville, Tennessee” was originally published in her 1968 poetry collection Black Judgement, and I was introduced to it by my 7th grade English teacher. Knoxville is my hometown, so the title grabbed me from the beginning. In 1994, the poem was published as a children’s book with illustrations by Larry Johnson.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

My high school AP English classes required a big paper every year that focused on a single author and provided biographical information along with writing analysis. I chose Edna St. Vincent Millay as my topic in 9th grade because I liked her name, and thankfully, that turned out to be a good pick because I enjoy her poetry too. Collected Sonnets is my suggestion if you want to read Millay because I prefer her sonnets. On a side note, that English assignment started a theme for me because my topics the next 3 years were Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, and Christina Rossetti.

Mary Oliver

Reading Mary Oliver makes me want to go for a long walk in the mountains just to be alone with myself and nature. Some of my favorite poems from her are in her collection Dream Work – “The Journey” and “Wild Geese”.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke isn’t a poetry collection, but these ten letters from the poet Rilke do offer some insight into his writing process and the value he places on knowing yourself. My first copy of the book was a gift from my dad, and I remember feeling a renewed sense of how much my dad really understood me once I read the book.