The art of poetry is one of the most sublime in the world – it is intimate and formless, without constraints of expression. This year, we’ve seen an immense volume of great poetry, centering around specific cultural identity, grief and more. And here, we’re talking about the 10 best poetry books of 2021 that moved us, shook us, destabilized us this – just as good poetry should.
10 Best Poetry Books of 2021 That You Should Read:
- Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
- The Renunciations by Donna Kelly
- Pilgrim Bell by Kaveh Akbar
- Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans
- The Sunflower Cast A Spell To Save Us From The Void by Jackie Wang
- A Blood Condition by Kayo Chingonyi
- Teeth at the Back of my Neck by Monika Radojevic
- Many Different Kinds of Love by Michael Rosen
- Poems 1962-2020 by Louise Gluck
- The Crossing by Manjeet Mann
Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
Gorman, who read her poem ‘The Hills We Climb’ at the inaugural ceremony of Joe Biden, is out with her collection of poems. Full of themes of ‘identity, grief and memory’ as the back cover calls it, this collection is unforgettable and poignant. It beckons the arrival of a new age with hope, and is an ode to the collective consciousness of the zeitgeist.
The Renunciations by Donna Kelly
This poetry collection is a haunting meditation on grief, loss, resilience and love. Drawing on her experiences of childhood abuse and broken marriage, she writes with aching tenderness of a growing absence of love. Even so, the desolation doesn’t seem hopeless. We’re eager to get to the new poetry collection of the poet who swooned our hearts with “The Bestiary.”
Pilgrim Bell by Kaveh Akbar
Touted as a TIME must read of 2021, Kaveh Akbar’s new collection of poems is a spiritual odyssey in itself. As an Iranian living in America, the highly acclaimed poet Kaveh follows up ‘Calling a Wolf a Wolf’ with its sequel. Like its predecessor, this is a meditation on Islamic faith as well as its decadence due to the American Empire.
Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans
Another cultural fiction that hits home, this poetry collection is Mans’s attempt to decode race, queer identity and gender identity. The back cover describes it as a ‘love letter to the wandering Black girl’ and a ‘companion to any woman on a journey to find truth, belonging and healing’. We couldn’t agree more.
The Sunflower Cast A Spell To Save Us From The Void by Jackie Wang
In this poetry volume, Wang attempts to create an oneiric poetry – a poetry told in the language of dreams – through the recurring motif of sunflowers. The result is a cloudy, dreamlike space where the significance of sunflowers in areas ranging from literature to the Fibonacci sequence is explored.
A Blood Condition by Kayo Chingonyi
This book was on the shortlist for the Costa Prize and TS Eliot Prize among others – a testament to its brilliance. Here, Kayo examines the inheritance of memory and ancestry, weaving it with the globalization of the future. Floating along the Zambezi river are pieces of story and life.
Teeth at the Back of my Neck by Monika Radojevic
This collection of poetry centres around diaspora and cultural identity, creating ripples through the waters of our self-concept. She navigates these waters with a flowy ease. Plus, she delves into the crests and troughs of leaving a world behind and entering a new world. It’s a collection of poetry that will resonate with all diasporic communities and individuals.
Many Different Kinds of Love by Michael Rosen
A poignant collection of poetry that is especially relevant now, this is a chronicling of Rosen’s struggle with COVID 19. From a fight with death and a six month coma to complete recovery due to inner strength and social support, this is a moving record of the times.
Poems 1962-2020 by Louise Gluck
Louise Gluck was the recipient of the Nobel prize last year. And this year she comes out with her latest set of poems. These are compilations since 1962, a diverse set of poems spanning forms and themes. But they are all connected by the thread of wisdom and motifs of mythology and nature that recur constantly.
The Crossing by Manjeet Mann
A novel in verse, this narrative revolves around two teenagers. One is from Dover and one a refugee from Eritrea, who find unexpected companionship in each other. Mann is a prolific actor and writer. But as a poet she tells us a story that moves us to tears with its high sensitivity.
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