National Poetry Month: 20 Books to Add to Your Reading List

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One collective poem.
Twenty books to spread poetry love.

The close of April is brings the completion of National Poetry Month here in the U.S. This year, I invited Voice & Vessel's circle of writers to celebrate with me in a special way, through a poem-making project and book giveaway. 

Throughout April, I invited folks to respond to prompts with new lines of poetry. Together, we're creating a collective poem that I'll unveil in the coming weeks. Each prompt brought a new book giveaway and a new chance to win.

Twenty books of poetry were sent to new homes. Eleven went to the winners of the giveaways with prompts. Nine were given to the writers in Voice & Vessel's revision circles. The complete list of books I chose (and hope to buy again soon for my own library!) follows. Many of these are the poet's first book or books by poets early in their career, which I picked with the hope of helping folks discover a new favorite:

Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Protection Spell by Jennifer Givhan

Map to the Stars by Adrian Matejka

The Voice of that Singing by Juliet Rodeman

Saudade by Traci Brimhall

Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar

The Dream of Reason by Jenny George

Lessons on Expulsion by Erika L. Sánchez

Our Lady of Not Asking Why by Courtney Kampa

Ordinary Beast by Nicole Sealey

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen

Wade in the Water: Poems by Tracy K. Smith

Light Into Bodies by Nancy Chen Long

Heart in a Jar by Kathleen McGookey

The Book of Endings by Leslie Harrison

Search and Rescue by Michael Chitwood

The Cold and the Rust by Emily Van Kley

Cold Pastoral by Rebecca Dunham

Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora

Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance by Fady Joudah

Want more inspiration for National Poetry Month?
Check out my post from last year on how to read a poem:


My hunch is the act of reading poetry is where many folks get stopped. Maybe in school, someone says there's only one way to read a poem… and that way feels like a secret code, with technical terms or critique that turn the poem into a riddle. Or the only poets you meet in school are poets who are long dead, homogenous, or writing about topics that feel distant. These poets can be good to have in the reading pile—but if they’re the only ones greeting you at the gate of poetry, you may struggle to see yourself in poetry-land. Keep reading this post.