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National Poetry Month Reading List

Happy National Poetry Month!


April is National Poetry Month! During this time we celebrate the importance of poets and poetry in our culture. We can always rely on poems to offer wisdom and uplifting ideas, truthful reflections of the world, and words that help us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We've put together a list of poetry collections to help you celebrate. Happy Reading! 

 

Milk and Honey Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781449474256
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Published: Andrews McMeel Publishing - October 6th, 2015

“Rupi Kaur is the Writer of the Decade.” – The New Republic

#1 New York Times bestseller milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity.

The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.


The Sun and Her Flowers Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781449486792
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Published: Andrews McMeel Publishing - October 3rd, 2017

“Rupi Kaur is the Writer of the Decade.” — The New Republic

From rupi kaur, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry.  A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.

Divided into five chapters and illustrated by kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.


The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9780316184137
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Published: Back Bay Books - January 30th, 1976

This comprehensive and authoritative collection of all 1,775 poems by Emily Dickinson is an essential volume for all lovers of American literature.

Only eleven of Emily Dickinson's poems were published prior to her death in 1886; the startling originality of her work doomed it to obscurity in her lifetime. Early posthumous published collections -- some of them featuring liberally "edited" versions of the poems -- did not fully and accurately represent Dickinson's bold experiments in prosody, her tragic vision, and the range of her intellectual and emotional explorations. Not until the 1955 publication of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, a three-volume critical edition compiled by Thomas H. Johnson, were readers able for the first time to assess, understand, and appreciate the whole of Dickinson's extraordinary poetic genius.

This book, a distillation of the three-volume Complete Poems, brings together the original texts of all 1,775 poems that Emily Dickinson wrote.

"With its chronological arrangement of the poems, this volume becomes more than just a collection; it is at the same time a poetic biography of the thoughts and feelings of a woman whose beauty was deep and lasting." --San Francisco Chronicle


The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage Classics) Cover Image
$21.00
ISBN: 9780679764083
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Published: Vintage - October 31st, 1995

"The ultimate book for both the dabbler and serious scholar--. [Hughes] is sumptuous and sharp, playful and sparse, grounded in an earthy music--. This book is a glorious revelation."--Boston Globe

Spanning five decades and comprising 868 poems (nearly 300 of which have never before appeared in book form), this magnificent volume is the definitive sampling of a writer who has been called the poet laureate of African America--and perhaps our greatest popular poet since Walt Whitman.  Here, for the first time, are all the poems that Langston Hughes published during his lifetime, arranged in the general order in which he wrote them and annotated by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel.

Alongside such famous works as "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and Montage of a Dream Deferred, The Collected Poems includes the author's lesser-known verse for children; topical poems distributed through the Associated Negro Press; and poems such as "Goodbye Christ" that were once suppressed.  Lyrical and pungent, passionate and polemical, the result is a treasure of a book, the essential collection of a poet whose words have entered our common language.


City of Bones: A Testament Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780810134621
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Published: Triquarterly - January 15th, 2017

As if convinced that all divination of the future is somehow a re-visioning of the past, Kwame Dawes reminds us of the clairvoyance of haunting. The lyric poems in City of Bones: A Testament constitute a restless jeremiad for our times, and Dawes’s inimitable voice peoples this collection with multitudes of souls urgently and forcefully singing, shouting, groaning, and dreaming about the African diasporic present and future.

As the twentieth collection in the poet’s hallmarked career, City of Bones reaches a pinnacle, adding another chapter to the grand narrative of invention and discovery cradled in the art of empathy that has defined his prodigious body of work. Dawes’s formal mastery is matched only by the precision of his insights into what is at stake in our lives today. These poems are shot through with music from the drum to reggae to the blues to jazz to gospel, proving that Dawes is the ambassador of words and worlds.


The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog (Pitt Poetry Series) Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780822962915
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Published: University of Pittsburgh Press - January 15th, 2014

This book by a major American poet is for poetry readers at all levels, academic and non-academic. It is a sequence of poems that will surprise and delight readers—in the voices of an old woman full of memories, a glamorous tulip, and an earthy dog who always has the last word.


Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781556595806
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Published: Copper Canyon Press - March 31st, 2020

Written during the trial for a close friend's murder, Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod exposes that the whimsical, horrible, and absurd all sit together. In this ambitious fourth collection, Traci Brimhall corresponds with the urges of life and death within herself as she lives through a series of impossibilities: the sentencing of her friend's murderers, the birth of her child, the death of her mother, divorce, a trip sailing through the Arctic. In lullaby, lyric essay, and always with brutal sincerity, Brimhall examines how beauty and terror live right alongside each other--much like how Nod is both a fictional dreamscape and the place where Cain is exiled for murdering Abel. By plucking at the tensions between life and death, love and hate, truth and obscurity, Brimhall finds what it is that ties opposing themes together; how love and loss are married in grief. Like Eve thrust from Eden, Brimhall is tasked with finding meaning in a world defined by its cruelty. Unrelenting, incisive, and tender, these poems expose beauty in the grotesque and argue that the effort to be good always outweighs the desire to succumb to what is easy.


Little Envelope of Earth Conditions Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781948579063
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Published: Alice James Books - January 14th, 2020

This collection charts a voyage of mourning--from the woods of a motherless fairytale to the vastness of space. Following the loss of a mother and baby, these poems explore the impossible distance a griever must travel in order to return back to earth. Part elegy, part love song, these poems teach us how to tend to the dead while carrying on living.


The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry Cover Image
By Rita Dove (Editor)
$26.00
ISBN: 9780143121480
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Published: Penguin Books - September 24th, 2013

Penguin’s landmark poetry anthology, perfect for learning poems by heart in the age of ephemeral media 

Recipient of the Academy of American Poets' Wallace Stevens Award (Dove)


Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize winner and former Poet Laureate of the United States, introduces readers to the most significant and compelling poems of the past hundred years in The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry. Now available in paperback, this indispensable volume represents the full spectrum of aesthetic sensibilities—with varying styles, voices, themes, and cultures—while balancing important poems with vital periods of each poet. Featuring works by Mary Oliver, Derek Walcott, John Ashbery, Gwendolyn Brooks, Kevin Young, Terrance Hayes, Li-Young Lee, Joanna Klink and A.E. Stallings, Dove’s selections paint a dynamic and cohesive portrait of modern American poetry.


Waiting for the Light (Pitt Poetry Series) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780822964520
Availability: Backordered
Published: University of Pittsburgh Press - February 14th, 2017

Winner of the 2017 National Jewish Book Award, poetry category

What is it like living today in the chaos of a city that is at once brutal and beautiful, heir to immigrant ancestors "who supposed their children's children would be rich and free?" What is it to live in the chaos of a world driven by "intolerable, unquenchable human desire?" How do we cope with all the wars? In the midst of the dark matter and dark energy of the universe, do we know what train we're on? In this cornucopia of a book, Ostriker finds herself immersed in phenomena ranging from a first snowfall in New York City to the Tibetan diaspora, asking questions that have no reply, writing poems in which "the arrow may be blown off course by storm and returned by miracle."


How to Be Drawn (Penguin Poets) Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780143126881
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - March 31st, 2015

A finalist for the 2015 National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award

Watch for the new collection of poetry from Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, coming in June of 2018

In How to Be Drawn, his daring fifth collection, Terrance Hayes explores how we see and are seen. While many of these poems bear the clearest imprint yet of Hayes’s background as a visual artist, they do not strive to describe art so much as inhabit it. Thus, one poem contemplates the
principle of blind contour drawing while others are inspired by maps, graphs, and assorted artists. The formal and emotional versatilities that distinguish Hayes’s award-winning poetry are unified by existential focus. Simultaneously complex and transparent, urgent and composed, How to Be Drawn is a mesmerizing achievement.


Shahr-E-Jaanaan: The City of the Beloved Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781946482297
Availability: Backordered
Published: Tupelo Press - March 1st, 2020

Poetry. Asian Asian American Studies. Winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize. SHAHR-E-JAANAAN sets out to recreate the universe of Urdu and Persian poetic tradition, its tropes both lenses and mirrors for the speaker's reality. As she maps her romances onto legends, directing their characters perform her own tragedy, their fantastical metaphors easily lend themselves to her fluctuating mental state. Cycling between delirious grandeur and wretched despair, she is torn between two selves--the pitiable lover continually rejected, and the cruel, unattainable beloved comparable in her exaltation to a god. SHAHR-E-JAANAAN explores, interrogates, and distorts these dichotomies and their symbolism, calling into question the forces that elevate some to divinity even as they damn others to injustice and oppression.


Raft of Flame Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781632430816
Availability: We Can Order This For You
Published: Omnidawn - April 15th, 2020

 

A painter and poet, Desirée Alvarez engages with the powerful forces of lyric and rhythm to create a collection that moves across time and place. Inspired by Lorca’s passionate cante jondo, or “deep song,” and her own family history with Andalusian flamenco, Alvarez weaves together a time-travelling epic that searches through myth, culture, and nature for the roots of identity. Navigating both her Latina and European heritage through works by artists of the ancient Americas and Spain, Alvarez maps intersections between personal and political history. Searching narratives both fictitious and real, Raft of Flame includes imagined conversations between a conquistador and an Olmec sculpture, between Frida Kahlo and Velazquez, and between The Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy and Glinda the Good Witch.

In Raft of Flame, Alvarez constructs and fleshes out a fantastic narrative of personal and cultural history, offering glimpses into the art, history, and land that comprise her story. Her narrative explores how both nature and human populations continue to be trapped in the violence of colonialism. Vivid lyrics interrogate the complexities of mixed race, digging the dualities, upheavals, and casts of characters that underly Alvarez’s identity.

Raft of Flame won Omnidawn's 2018 Lake Merritt Prize. 


Still-Life With God Cover Image
By Cynthia Atkins, Lisa Telling Kattenbraker (Artist), Ron Starbuck (Cover Design by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781733023306
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Published: Saint Julian Press, Inc. - March 11th, 2020

Book of Levitations Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781732364769
Availability: We Can Order This For You
Published: Trembling Pillow Press - February 20th, 2020

Poetry. "This collection is full of ghosts. And they're the kind of ghosts that you want to stay with you forever. The first poem, 'Predictions, ' starts off with a perfect line: 'Like boys, you too were born with power--, ' illustrating that this book isn't for someone who doesn't want to throw out all the societal gender norms. Each poem is a gift, focusing on a moment in time, your body levitating over and underneath and around the poems. The poems are spells, rituals, prayers, calls to all of us, inviting us all to take part in the poems, to be inside the pens, the poems' characters. This is a book I will read again and again, and constantly feel 'the sting.'"--Joanna C. Valen.


In the Lateness of the World: Poems Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780525560401
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - March 10th, 2020

A new poetry collection of uncanny grace and moral force from one of our country's most celebrated poets

Over four decades, Carolyn Forché's visionary work has reinvigorated poetry's power to awaken the reader. Her groundbreaking poems have been testimonies, inquiries, and wonderments. They daringly map a territory where poetry asserts our inexhaustible responsibility to each other.

Her first new collection in seventeen years, In the Lateness of the World is a tenebrous book of crossings, of migrations across oceans and borders but also between the present and the past, life and death. The poems call to the reader from the end of the world where they are sifting through the aftermath of history. Forché envisions a place where "you could see everything at once ... every moment you have lived or place you have been." The world here seems to be steadily vanishing, but in the moments before the uncertain end, an illumination arrives and "there is nothing that cannot be seen." In the Lateness of the World is a revelation from one of the finest poets writing today.


The Red Wheelbarrow & Other Poems Cover Image
$11.95
ISBN: 9780811227889
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Published: New Directions - May 29th, 2018

Gathered here are the gems of William Carlos Williams’s astonishing achievements in poetry. Dramatic, energetic, beautiful, and true, this slim selection will delight any reader—The Red Wheelbarrow & Other Poems is a book to be treasured.


If Men, Then: Poems Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780374280772
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - February 11th, 2020

A darkly humorous new collection of poems by the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author of Wideawake Field and Amity and Prosperity

If Men, Then, Eliza Griswold’s second poetry collection, charts a radical spiritual journey through catastrophe. Griswold’s language is forthright and intimate as she steers between the chaos of a tumultuous inner world and an external landscape littered with SUVs, CBD oil, and go bags, talismans of our time. Alternately searing and hopeful, funny and fraught, the poems explore the world’s fracturing through the collapse of the ego, embodied in a character named “I”—a soul attempting to wrestle with itself in the face of an unfolding tragedy.


Ledger: Poems Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780525657804
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - March 10th, 2020


Ledger's pages hold the most important and masterly work yet by Jane Hirshfield, one of our most celebrated contemporary poets. From the already much-quoted opening lines of despair and defiance ("Let them not say: we did not see it. / We saw"), Hirshfield's poems inscribe a registry, both personal and communal, of our present-day predicaments. They call us to deepened dimensions of thought, feeling, and action. They summon our responsibility to sustain one another and the earth while pondering, acutely and tenderly, the crises of refugees, justice, and climate. They consider "the minimum mass for a whale, for a language, an ice cap," recognize the intimacies of connection, and meditate upon doubt and contentment, a library book with previously dog-eared corners, the hunger for surprise, and the debt we owe this world's continuing beauty.

Hirshfield's signature alloy of fact and imagination, clarity and mystery, inquiry, observation, and embodied emotion has created a book of indispensable poems, tuned toward issues of consequence to all who share this world's current and future fate.


An American Sunrise: Poems Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781324003861
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - August 13th, 2019

In An American Sunrise, Harjo finds blessings in the abundance of her homeland and confronts the site where her people, and other indigenous families, essentially disappeared. From her memory of her mother’s death, to her beginnings in the native rights movement, to the fresh road with her beloved, Harjo’s personal life intertwines with tribal histories to create a space for renewed beginnings. Her poems sing of beauty and survival, illuminating a spirituality that connects her to her ancestors and thrums with the quiet anger of living in the ruins of injustice. A descendent of storytellers and “one of our finest—and most complicated—poets” (Los Angeles Review of Books), Joy Harjo continues her legacy with this latest powerful collection.


Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780399563249
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - October 10th, 2017

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver presents a personal selection of her best work in this definitive collection spanning more than five decades of her esteemed literary career.

Carefully curated, these 200 plus poems feature Oliver's work from her very first book of poetry, No Voyage and Other Poems, published in 1963 at the age of 28, through her most recent collection, Felicity, published in 2015. This timeless volume, arranged by Oliver herself, showcases the beloved poet at her edifying best. Within these pages, she provides us with an extraordinary and invaluable collection of her passionate, perceptive, and much-treasured observations of the natural world.


Felicity: Poems Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143128762
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - October 3rd, 2017

Mary Oliver, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, celebrates love in her new collection of poems

"If I have any secret stash of poems, anywhere, it might be about love, not anger," Mary Oliver once said in an interview. Finally, in her stunning new collection, Felicity, we can immerse ourselves in Oliver’s love poems. Here, great happiness abounds. Our most delicate chronicler of physical landscape, Oliver has described her work as loving the world. With Felicity she examines what it means to love another person. She opens our eyes again to the territory within our own hearts; to the wild and to the quiet. In these poems, she describes—with joy—the strangeness and wonder of human connection. As in Blue HorsesDog Songs, and A Thousand Mornings, with Felicity Oliver honors love, life, and beauty.


The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems Cover Image
By Pablo Neruda, Mark Eisner (Editor)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780872864283
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: City Lights Publishers - City Lights Publishe - April 1st, 2004

"The call for a more accessible collection of Neruda's important poems is answered with City Lights' The Essential Neruda, a 200-page edition that offers 50 of Neruda's key poems."-- The Bloomsbury Review

This bilingual collection of Neruda's most essential poems is indispensable. Selected by a team of poets and prominent Neruda scholars in both Chile and the U.S., this is a definitive selection that draws from the entire breadth and width of Neruda's various styles and themes. An impressive group of translators that includes Alistair Reid, Stephen Mitchell, Robert Hass, Stephen Kessler and Jack Hirschman, have come together to revisit or completely retranslate the poems; and a handful of previously untranslated works are included as well. This selection sets the standard for a general, high--quality introduction to Neruda's complete oeuvre.


Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful Cover Image
$10.95
ISBN: 9780156421737
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - March 28th, 1986

Alice Walker has always turned to poetry to express some of her most personal and deeply felt concerns. She has said that her poems-even the happy ones-emerge from an accumulation of sadness, when she stands again “in the sunlight.” “[This collection] has two fine strengths-a music that comes along sometimes, as sad and cheery as a lonely woman’s whistling-and Miss Walker’s own tragicomic gifts” (New York Times Book Review).


Tropic of Squalor: Poems Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9780062699824
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - May 8th, 2018

Long before she earned accolades for her genre-defining memoirs, Mary Karr was winning poetry prizes. Now the beloved author returns with a collection of bracing poems as visceral and deeply felt and hilarious as her memoirs. In Tropic of Squalor, Karr dares to address the numinous—that mystery some of us hope towards in secret, or maybe dare to pray to. The "squalor" of meaninglessness that every thoughtful person wrestles with sits at the core of human suffering, and Karr renders it with power—illness, death, love’s agonized disappointments. Her brazen verse calls us out of our psychic swamplands and into that hard-won awareness of the divine hiding in the small moments that make us human. In a single poem she can generate tears, horror, empathy, laughter, and peace. She never preaches. But whether you’re an adamant atheist, a pilgrim, or skeptically curious, these poems will urge you to find an inner light in the most baffling hours of darkness.


The Rain in Portugal: Poems Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780812982688
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - October 17th, 2017

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins comes a twelfth collection of poetry offering over fifty new poems that showcase the generosity, wit, and imaginative play that prompted The Wall Street Journal to call him “America’s favorite poet.”
 
The Rain in Portugal—a title that admits he’s not much of a rhymer—sheds Collins’s ironic light on such subjects as travel and art, cats and dogs, loneliness and love, beauty and death. His tones range from the whimsical—“the dogs of Minneapolis . . . / have no idea they’re in Minneapolis”—to the elegiac in a reaction to the death of Seamus Heaney. A student of the everyday, Collins here contemplates a weather vane, a still life painting, the calendar, and a child lost at a beach. His imaginative fabrications have Shakespeare flying comfortably in first class and Keith Richards supporting the globe on his head. By turns entertaining, engaging, and enlightening, The Rain in Portugal amounts to another chorus of poems from one of the most respected and familiar voices in the world of American poetry.


I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062389091
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - September 13th, 2016

A collection of thrilling verse, including both new poems and beloved favorites, from the celebrated poet, modern cult icon, and author of Chelsea Girls.

Eileen Myles’ work is known for its blend of reality and fiction, the sublime and the ephemeral. Her work opens readers to astonishing new considerations of familiar places, like the East Village in her iconic Chelsea Girls, and invites them into lush—and sometimes horrid—dream worlds, imbuing the landscapes of her writing with the vividness and energy of fantasy.

I Must Be Living Twice brings together selections from the poet’s previous work with a set of bold new poems that reflect her sardonic, unapologetic, and fiercely intellectual literary voice. Steeped in the culture of New York City, Myles’ milieu, I Must Be Living Twice is a prism refracting a radical world and a compelling life.


Night Sky with Exit Wounds Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781556594953
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Copper Canyon Press - April 5th, 2016

One of the most celebrated poetry books of the year:


The New Yorker, The Best Books of Poetry of 2016
New York Times, Critics Pick
Boston Globe, Best Books listing
NPR, Best Books listing
Miami Herald, Best LGBTQ Books
San Francisco Chronicle, Top 100 Books of the Year

"Night Sky with Exit Wounds establishes Vuong as a fierce new talent to be reckoned with...This book is a masterpiece that captures, with elegance, the raw sorrows and joys of human existence."--Buzzfeed's "Most Exciting New Books of 2016"


The Best American Poetry 2019 Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781982106577
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - September 10th, 2019

The 2019 edition of The Best American Poetry—“one of the mainstays of the poetry publication world” (Academy of American Poets)—now guest edited by Major Jackson, award-winning poet and poetry editor of the Harvard Review.

Since 1988, The Best American Poetry has been the leading anthology of contemporary American poetry. The Washington Post said of the 2017 edition, “The poems...have a wonderful cohesion and flow, as if each contributes to a larger narrative about life today…While readers may question some of the selections—an annual sport with this series—most will find much that resonates, including the insightful author notes at the back of the anthology.”

The state of the world has inspired many to write poetry, and to read it—to share all the rage, beauty, and every other thing under the sun in the way that only poetry can. Now the foremost anthology of contemporary American poetry returns, guest edited by Major Jackson, the poet and editor who, “makes poems that rumble and rock” (poet Dorianne Laux). This brilliant 2019 edition includes some of the year’s most defining, striking, and innovative poems and poets.


The Complete Poetry Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780812997873
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - March 31st, 2015

Throughout her illustrious career in letters, Maya Angelou gifted, healed, and inspired the world with her words. Now the beauty and spirit of those words live on in this new and complete collection of poetry that reflects and honors the writer’s remarkable life.