By Molly Govus and Rosa Burston
Poetry is one of the most peculiar literary genres and is also extremely beneficial to readers and writers alike. Able to capture the power of language and to go straight to the point, poetry is ideal for every confused millennial trying to survive in this chaotic world and make sense of it. In this article, we recommend 5 books that you certainly cannot miss!
The World’s Wife – Carol Ann Duffy
This strikingly original collection of poems from the former poet laureate is a must-read for any millennial. Written from the perspectives of sisters, wives, and girlfriends of famous male personas, Duffy’s poems allow the reader to explore well-known narratives from a completely new angle. She uses rich metaphors drawn from mythology and history, showing their relevance in today’s society – in particular, the theme of gender is explored throughout the collection with subverted male/female roles displayed in multiple poems. Although feminist poetry has recently surged in popularity, Duffy’s words remain unique in their power and witty truth. Glimpses of the lives’ of Queen Kong, Pope Joan and Frau Freud provide insight into the balance of power between the sexes in both a historical and modern day setting. Duffy’s analogies are complex; you’ll reread poems, trying to pin down their meaning. And reread them again. Whilst some points may appear obvious, each read seems to reveal a new layer of meaning or a new train of personal thought. This anthology is well worth a read – thought-provoking, inspiring and empowering. Contemporary writing tied to the past.
The Princess Saves Herself in This One – Amanda Lovelace
This whole collection lives up to its’ powerful title. Split into four sections – princess, damsel, queen and you – Lovelace speaks of childhood abuse at the hands of her mother, painful teenage love and triumph over tragedy. The story of a powerless child growing up to become a ‘queen’ is told through the first three sections. The final section directly addresses the reader, with the message that you can reclaim strength and freedom even from the most adverse situations. Lovelace uses raw and simple language, making her poems accessible to a large audience. Her anger, confusion, sadness and eventual joy are blatant in her words, and resonate strongly if you have experienced any similar situations as the poet. In places, the layout of Lovelace’s writing is fragmented and seemingly random – some may find this disruptive whilst reading, although it is certainly thought-provoking and a feature of the author’s modern style. The progression of this book from dark, emotive themes to a hope-filled uprising stirs a sense of bravery and power in the reader. It is for this reason that Lovelace’s first book in her series is a must-read. (Trigger warning – child abuse, sexual assault, self-harm).
The Forward Book Of Poetry – Forward Arts Foundation
This book was gifted to me by one of my favourite English teachers on my last day of year 11, and it has become a comfort within my bookcase. It is published yearly, showcasing the best contemporary poetry and poets in the British Isles. With the internet and trends, it’s so easy to get sucked into mainstream poetry styles and structures. It’s easy to forget about the talent present on our own doorstep when there is so much elsewhere, but this book really showcases a sense of British pride between the pages that can’t really be matched. It’s so refreshing to have a book that feels like home and it’s exciting to see exactly what the poets of our country are capable of.
‘eighteen years’ by Madison Kuhn
A millennial poet for millennial readers! I found out about Madison Kuhn via Instagram where she gained popularity and released her first poetry book at the age of (you guessed it…) eighteen in 2015. The book itself is the typical aesthetic – line drawings, choppy structures and lowercase letters fill the pages. It may be easy to dismiss Kuhn’s work as a copy of the Rupi Kaur vibe, but I believe it stands and speaks for itself. It shows the life of a young teenager in our society; the book is a collection of poems she wrote over the course of her life and they perfectly encapsulate every emotion we have all been through whilst growing up.
‘Whispers of the beloved’ by Rumi
This is one of my most treasured books and I strongly believe this little book of power should be a staple in everybody’s book collection. This small book packs so much wisdom and peace from the 13th-century Persian poet, Rumi. Gifted to me by one of my counsellors, I found comfort and safety curl around me whilst I read these lines and that feeling has never strayed too far from me since. This book may be a bit too much for some spiritual sceptics due to its mystical nature, but I can assure you that there is just something about the collection that speaks calm. I always go back to it whenever life gets a bit too much or a bit too intense. The poems are often small so I find it extremely easy to focus on just the poem in that moment instead of what is around me and what my mind is occupied with.