Many bookworms fear that the digitalisation of the world is bringing about the death of the humble book. However, sales of printed books are, in fact, on the rise once again!
There’s nothing quite like a book. Flicking through the pages and smelling that familiar smell as you take in the words on each page is a unique experience.
Most lovers of poetry enjoy building up a poetry collection made up of all kinds of anthologies, magazines and other poetry books, which contain all kinds of poems which speak to them in some way.
There are many different genres of poetry book published on the market. Some are collections from a particular author, while others contain poems which follow a certain rhyme scheme or other structure. Whatever your poetic preferences, there really is something for everyone.
So, whether you know what you like, and you want to find some new titles to add to your poetry collection, or you’re new to poetry and you’re looking for something to get yourself started, this article will tell you all you need to know about the poetry books available today.
Contemporary Poetry Anthologies
Contemporary poetry is a genre of poetry which is not only marked by its time (anything written after the 1920s), but also one which is marked by its diversity, with poets branching out and using their creativity to explore the various ways in which they can use the English language to convey their ideas, opinions and feelings.
There are many contemporary poetry anthologies on the market. Some feature poems by single writers, while others are collections of poems from various artists with a common theme.
Here are some of the most well-known contemporary poem anthologies available:
- Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur
Rupi Kaur’s first compilation of poetry and prose focus on the topic of survival. Milk and Honey has become especially popular with the younger generation, as it successfully captures the intimate feelings experienced by the author in various situations. Many of Kaur’s short lyrical phrases have been likened to tweets and Instagram posts – maybe that’s what makes them so popular with teens?
- The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind and Soul – William Seighart
This collection of poems from William Seighart is centred around the theme of healing. The Poetry Pharmacy has everything you need in times of difficulty. It has been described by Stephen Fry as “balm for the soul, fire for the belly, a cooling compress for the fevered brow, solace for the wounded, [and] an arm around the lonely shoulder”.
- England: Poems from a School – Various Poets
Despite its title, this anthology is not, in fact, a compilation of English poetry, but rather a collection of poems written by students of the Oxford Spires Academy, a comprehensive school in Oxfordshire which is attended by pupils from a vast range of national backgrounds. Many of the poems focus on the realities of migrating to England to build a new life, and the work has been praised for its rawness.
- Useless Magic – Florence Welch
Florence Welch rose to fame as the lead singer of the band Florence and the Machine, and she has long been renowned for her poetic song lyrics. Now, she has published her song lyric, as well as other writings, into her very own book.
Classical Poetry Collections
The greatest poets that are responsible for our national love of poetry are as famous today as they ever were. Bookshops and libraries and even online you can find poems from the likes of Wordsworth, Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe and Shakespeare.
Like other poetry anthologies, some are arranged by author, while others focus on the theme of each poem or the particular period.
Here are some poetry books to consider if you’re looking to get stuck in to classical poetry:
- William Wordsworth – Faber Nature Poets
Faber & Faber have put together anthologies from many poets including William Wordsworth, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and T.S. Eliot to name a few. The Wordsworth edition features a selection of work from the author that focus on the natural world.
- Penguin’s Poems for Life
Book publisher, Penguin has selected a range of poems for various stages in a person’s life. With verse for everything from birth to death and everything in-between, this anthology is sure to form a fundamental part of your poetry collection. The Poems for Life come from a range of sources and eras, with work from Shakespeare as well as Carol Ann Duffy to enjoy.
- Best-Loved Poems: A Treasury of Verse
Like Penguin’s Poems for life, this anthology is a patchwork of poems from the last 500 years. Featuring some of the most famous poems and the ones with which the public is most familiar, this is a great addition to any collection.
- Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St Agnes and Other Poems – John Keats
This was the final volume of poetry published by John Keats. It is widely considered to be the best representation of his work. Written in 1819, it was released months before he died at the age of 25.
Children’s Poem Books
It is widely agreed that poetry is for all, and that children should, therefore, be introduced to poetry as a literary form at a young age. For this reason, there are many poetry books and treasuries on the market which have been compiled specifically for young readers.
Like the poetry books available to adults, children’s poetry book may be centred around certain topics, or even levels of reading ability.
Here is a selection of books to inspire young minds:
- Revolting Rhymes – Roald Dahl
A classic in the world of children’s poetry by one of the world’s most famous children’s authors, Revolting Rhymes is a collection of well-known nursery rhymes and tales as you have never seen them before. Written in verse with alternate endings and new twists in each stanza, Revolting Rhymes will provide an exciting read for any young poet.
- The Puffin Baby and Toddler Treasury
Full of traditional nursery rhymes, fairy tales and short stories, this treasury makes the perfect first book, or even a birthday gift. Containing favourite characters such as Tom Kitten and The Snowman, the timeless pieces contained within the pages of this book are more than enough to inspire further poetry reading and interest in the literary world.
- The Lost Words – Robert McFarlane and Jackie Morris
The Lost Worlds has been created with a view to give its young readers a taste of what it means to grow up with nature. McFarlane’s poetry, along with Morris’ illustrations create a world which children can explore while getting to know the joys of poetry.
- 101 Poems for Children – Carol Ann Duffy
In first place on the Guardian’s list of the top 10 poetry books for children, 101 Poems for Children is a great collection of all kinds of poems to be enjoyed by youngsters. Each poem has been personally selected by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and the anthology contains poems for children of all ages and interests.
Poetry Books for Recitation
Poetry lovers who may not be so keen to create their own verse put time finding the perfect poems to read aloud instead. Poetry recital is very popular among school-age children, who are encouraged to perform poems aloud to develop their public speaking skills.
Thanks to the popularity of the practice of reciting, many anthologies of poems which lend themselves to recitation have been compiled.
Here are some of the most popular ones available:
- Poetry by Heart: Poems for Learning and Reciting
Containing 200 poems of all kinds, this anthology has been compiled for candidates of the recitation competition, Poetry by Heart, to choose from. Each and every poem has been carefully hand-picked by former poet laureate, Andrew Motion (founder of the spoken poetry competition) and his team.
- A Year of Reading Aloud: 52 Poems to Learn and Love
With one poem to learn and recite per week, A Year of Reading Aloud will give you plenty of food for thought. Just as memorising is good exercise for the brain, exploring how words can pepper a year of your life with interest is good for the soul. In addition to the verses in this compilation, there is an explanation of the meanings behind each poem as well as relevant information on the person who penned it.
- Penguin’s Poems by Heart
This collection of English poetry has been put together to reignite our national love of poetry. Packed with old favourites as well as poems which are best read aloud, this book is a welcome addition to any bookshelf.