Whether you are a longtime lover of poetry, or you are just starting to read poetry (as you should), these are 5 brilliant and beautiful collections of poetry that would be a wonderful addition to your library.
Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen.
Leonard Cohen is undoubtedly one of the most talented writers of all time, from his music to his fiction, and especially, to his poetry. While he has many gorgeous collections of poems, this one is an absolute favourite, as it is especially melancholic, nostalgic, and beautiful, in the most aching kind of way. Here is an excerpt for you to see what kind of writing you can expect: “I don’t remember lighting this cigarette. And I don’t remember if I’m here alone or waiting for someone. You go your way, and I’ll go your way too.”
The Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara
The Lunch Poems are simple and brilliant poems, and Frank O’Hara perfectly encapsulates yearning and longing and loving too hard in his writing in this collection. It is like he is writing from directly inside of your heart, the way he is able to write so universally and with such pretty yet painful specificity. It is absolutely perfect writing about the imperfection of living. Here is an excerpt for you to see Frank O’Hara’s style of writing: “Oh God it’s wonderful, to get out of bed, and drink too much coffee, and smoke too many cigarettes. And love you so much.”
Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver by Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver. Wow. She is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most beautiful writers of all time. She has written many books/collections of poetry, and it is hard to pick a favourite, but Devotions contains some of the most impeccable and personal writing of all time. Mary Oliver depicts the beauty and strangeness of life, and while understanding the sorrow, chooses to write about the beauty that is left. Reading Mary Oliver will make you feel better, that is all. Here is an excerpt from Devotions to give you an idea of her writing: “For there I am, in the mossy shadows, under the trees. And to tell the truth, I don’t want to let go of the wrists of idleness, I don’t want to sell my life for money. I don’t even want to come in out of the rain.”
Film for Her by Orion Carloto
I am head over heels in love with Orion Carloto and everything she does. This beautiful collection of poetry is a little bit more of a modern choice, as it was released only just in 2020. It is a mix of both poetry and film photography, and is a treat for the senses. Film for Her is Carloto’s second collection of poetry, and it is definitely my favourite of her writing. It brilliantly encapsulates love and loss and longing, and will make you feel like you are permanently in the golden, warm haze of California while you read it. Here is a sample from Film for Her to give a general idea of the poetry: “For a moment, a faint smile broke through your cold gaze. A promise of love, Madonna in Glory, sapphic waves of trivial happiness.”
Ariel by Sylvia Plath
It is hard to discuss poetry without including Sylvia Plath, as she is truly one of the most wonderful writers of all time. While her work might be stereotyped as being depressing, she actually writes so much about the beauty of life and love as well, and her writing about sadness and sorrow is done in such a raw and sobering way, a way that many people will be able to relate to and see themselves in her work. Ariel is a brilliant collection of poetry, and will definitely give you a lump in the throat. Here is a quote from Ariel to give you a glimpse into Plath’s writing: “If the moon smiled, she would resemble you. You leave the same impression of something beautiful but annihilating. Both of you are great light borrowers.”