Give The Gift of Poetry With These 10 Books

By Megan Leihgeber
10 Best Poetry Books to Gift Your Valentine This Year

featured photo by kristen kilpatrick

One of my goals for 2018 is to practice slowing down when I get home from a grinding work day. Specifically, disconnecting from my phone, television, computer, camera… basically anything with a screen. I’m learning to leave work at the office, and cherish everyday moments with my family. What do I do to transition into my “home state of mind?” Make my favorite loose leaf tea and cuddle up with my read-of-the-week. And with Valentine’s Day around the corner, poetry is at the top of my radar. Here’s a list of my top 10 poetry books, which also make a great Valentine’s (or Galentine’s!) Day gift.

1. The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

“Rupi Kaur is kicking down the doors of publishing.” – The New York Times


2. WHEREAS by Layli Long Soldier

“One of the most innovative collections of poetry I’ve come across in a long time. . . . WHEREAS is a masterful example of compositional resistance. . . . Long Soldier sutures found language with her own lyrically stark diction, making poems that are amalgams of poetry and proclamation. . . . WHEREAS is an ambitious, ground breaking book. The world needs more of those.” Dean Rader, Ploughshares

3. There are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker

There are more beautiful things than Beyoncé in these pages because, as Morgan Parker writes in poems channeling the president’s wife, the Venus Hottentot and multiple Beyoncés, “we’re everyone. We have ideas and vaginas, history and clothes and a mother.” The kind of verve the late New York school Ted Berrigan would have called “feminine marvelous and tough” is here, as well as the kind of vulnerability that fortifies genuine daring. This is a marvelous book. See for yourself. Morgan Parker is a fearlessly forward and forward-thinking literary star.  Terrance Hayes, author of How To Be Drawn

4. I Hope You Find Me: The Love Poems of craigslist’s Missed Connections by Alan Feuer

“Journalist Alan Feuer has been collecting and composing craigslist love poetry for more than five years, amassing hundreds of sweet, raunchy, and just plain odd odes (like “10 Reasons We Won’t Be Having a Second Date”). The poems compiled inside this often hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking volume are reprinted verbatim from the Missed Connections section of craigslist, with only line and stanza breaks added.”  – Knock Knock

5. The Nightlife by Elise Paschen

“These poems are finely crafted boxes that are only opened at night when the family is asleep. They are hidden under the bed. One contains dreams that were lost then found. Within another are the oceans of all summers past…This collection, which is graced by the moon and stars, is Paschen’s best. As she says in a haiku: ‘I entered the room / of this life to discover / time had come to move.’ And we are here, being moved.” Joy Harjo, winner of the 2015 Academy of American Poets’ Wallace Stevens Award



6. Calling A Wolf A Wolf by Kaveh Akbar

“[Akbar] demonstrates with otherworldly imagery that those who suffer possess an astonishing sensitivity to beauty, able to find it in even the saddest places. Indeed, Calling a Wolf a Wolf does precisely that.” – Fields Magazine


7.  Love Her Wild by Atticus

“In the simplest way, Atticus captures those little things that make life magic.” – Karlie Kloss, supermodel and entrepeneur


8. When I Grow Up I Want to be a List of Further Opportunities by Chen Chen

“Chen balances the politics surrounding shame and desire with hearty doses of joy, humor, and whimsy in his vibrant debut collection. To consider the titular act of growing up—to recognize what potential could mean—Chen must make sense of his past to imagine a better future in his poems… As a gay, Asian-American poet, Chen casts his poems as both a refusal of the shame of sexuality and of centering whiteness or treating it as a highly desirable trait. Readers encounter sharp, delightful turns between poems, as Chen shifts from elegy to ode and back again… Moving between whimsy and sobriety, Chen both exhibits and defies vulnerability—an acute reminder that there are countless further possibilities.” —Publishers Weekly

9. Olio by Tyehimba Jess

Jess and Wave Books have deliberately cultivated a coffee-table art book effect in which the book’s scale, typography and illustrations are woven into its poetics…Olio is a groundbreaking book for African-American historic poetry and American poetry as a whole. – Malike Booker, Poetry London

10. Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

“In between rich odes to sexual awakening and love, Smith’s poetry reverberates with an ever-present awareness of the endless fear and latent hurt that accompanies the daily existence of black men in the United States. . . . These are poems you want to wrap your arms around and keep safe.” —Vox