Reader’s Advisory: Poetry

Uggles the UGL cat wearing a beret.

Uggles the UGL cool cat.

April is National Poetry, so we’ve perused our stacks to find some exciting and diverse poetry books to help you celebrate. Whether you’re a fan of the funny or the frightening, there should be something to tickle your poetic fancy. Grab those berets and have your coffee close and let us find your new favorite poetry book.

The Undergrad is
sure to have all the poems
a cool cat could want.

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by Shel Silverstein

Book: The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by Shel Silverstein

Poetry can often be a bit intimidating and can seem not fun, so we decided to start this list with something a bit less high-brow. Shel Silverstein is a beloved author of popular children’s books like The Giving Tree of Where the Sidewalk Ends and, fun fact, was a dropout of the University of Illinois! The Missing Piece Meets the Big O is one of his lesser celebrated books but is one that compassionately and lightly can show you how to navigate relationships in your life that you may not know how to approach. The best poetry has a way of sneaking up on you and we have a feeling this lovely book will be no different.

Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems by Juan Felipe Herrera

Book: Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems by Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera is the current poet laureate of the USA and is the first Chicano poet laureate of our country. This book earned Herrera the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2008, an award presented for the “finest books and reviews published in English”. Herrera’s work often touches on racial identity and this work collects both newer, previously unpublished material as well as older poems that have stuck with the poet. It may not be the type of poetry a newer poetry reader may want to pick up first, but it is one that holds many wonders and can provide a great introduction to the world of modern American poetry.

Graphic Clasics: Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Tom Pomplum

Book: Graphic Clasics: Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Tom Pomplun

Edgar Allen Poe is one of the most celebrated, creepiest, and most thoroughly interesting poets and writers that have ever lived. His poems and works of fiction are dark and gloomy and have captivated audiences for years and this collection brings these stories to life in comic form, something you non-poetry types might really enjoy. Actually getting to see the raven quothing “nevermore” over and over again in vivid illustrations may be just the push you need to really get into poetry full time.

America's Favorite Poems: The Favorite Poem Project Anthology edited by Robert Pinsky and Maggie Dietz

Book: Americans’ Favorite Poems: The Favorite Poem Project Anthology edited by Robert Pinsky and Maggie Dietz

We decided to include a general collection of favorite poems for those of you just starting to really get into poetry. Americans’ favorite poems was compiled by the editors via letters from the American public admitting their love of poems from all types of authors from all sorts of places around the world. You’ll get beautiful classic Shakespeare, you’ll get stark raving Ginsberg, you’ll get some love poems that you’ll write in the margins of your notebooks for months. These are poems that are meant to be shared and loved and digested thoroughly and included are comments by normal people confessing their love of these wondrous works. Find a new favorite and rave about it to your friends!

Dead Poets Society with Robin Williams

Book: Dead Poets Society with Robin Williams

It would be a crying shame to not include something from our enormous Media Collection on the Lower Level on this list and we couldn’t think of a better poetry driven film than Dead Poets Society. Featuring the late, great Robin Williams in one of his most iconic (and more serious) roles, this film will have you falling head over heals for Whitman and jumping on your desks reciting “Oh Captain! My captain!” How great is that scene? Classic.

Did we miss anything? What are some of your favorite poetry books? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages.

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit

Name the UGL Courtyard Tree

It’s National Poetry Month! We were originally going to talk about the incredible selection of poetry we have available at the UGL, but another event has stolen our attention: April Absurdity! Although it is a shame that we can’t point readers to great works such as current Poet Laureate Charles Wright’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner Black Zodiac, your chance to give the UGL courtyard tree a nickname is too important.

UGL April Absurdity 2015

April is an exciting month at the University of Illinois, as temperatures rise and students are able to enjoy time outside. We won’t suggest reading Wendell Berry’s The Broken Ground, even though it would be a great way to celebrate nature and the good weather we have been getting, so instead we hope that you will participate in naming the tree that gives students a glimpse of life while studying underground at the UGL. Names for the tree will be accepted between April 6 and April 13 and they can be suggested by online survey, on the whiteboard near the UGL Circulation Desk located on the Upper Level, and through Facebook and Twitter.

Student studying in UGL courtyard in 1969, photo taken from University Archives (

During the week of April 13 through April 20, students will be able to vote for their favorite name at the UGL Circulation Desk and through the UGL’s social media. The whiteboard next to the Circulation Desk will be updated with brackets to show the progress of the names. If we didn’t have to tell you that the final name would be announced on Arbor Day (which is April 24) we could highlight some of our other books of poetry, such as Sharon Olds’s Stag’s Leap, or even a classic work like Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Collected Poems and Translations.

UGL Courtyard Tree, courtesy of Media Commons

National Poetry Month is such an exciting time at the UGL, which is why it is so upsetting that we can’t mention our books like Lucille Clifton’s Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, or Adrienne Rich’s The School Among the Ruins. (See what we did there?) If you need inspiration to come up with tree names, be sure to check out Americans’ Favorite Poems: The Favorite Poem Project Anthology.

Americans’ Favorite Poems: The Favorite Poem Project Anthology

Stay up to date with April Absurdity and do your part in helping name the UGL courtyard tree!

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit

April is National Poetry Month!

Fellow UGL’ers, it’s April and spring is finally here! That means—it is also National Poetry Month! In honor of all that is poetic, the UGL’s own graduate assistants will share their favorite poet, poem, or collection of poems.

Cover Art of "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe

“Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe

“Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe © All Rights Reserved
“This poem was the very first one that caught my attention in elementary school and it’s been on my favorite ever since.” -Quetzalli

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me.”

Looking for more works by Edgar Allan Poe? Click here!

“Reflections on Ice-Breaking” by Ogden Nash ©  All Rights Reserved
“My favorite poem is Ogden Nash’s ‘Reflections on Ice-Breaking.’ Known for his pithy and witty poems, Nash uses wordplay to create comedy with some innate truth to it.” – Zoe

is dandy
But liquor
is quicker.”

For other works by Ogden Nash, be sure to check out the library catalog.

Cover art of A Light in the Attic

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

“Overdues” by Shel Silverstein © All Rights Reserved
“I’m not really a poetry person, but I do loves me some Shel Silverstein. Here is an excerpt from A Light in the Attic.” -Angeline

“What do I do?
What do I do?
This library book is 42
Years overdue.
I admit that it’s mine
But I can’t pay the fine-
Should I turn it in
Or hide it again?
What do I do?
What do I do?”

Like what you see? Check out the whole book, A Light in the Attic.

“Having a Coke with You” by Frank O’Hara ©  All Rights Reserved
“This poem is a frank and clear exploration of the giddiness of being in love (especially with someone new) and the ways that every little aspect of a person can take on a grandiose shining light in the wash of love.” – Tad

“Having a Coke with You
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona”

Check out the author, Frank O’Hara, reading this poem here.

Cover art of Loose Woman

Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros

Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros © All Rights Reserved
“An American writer, she is also the author of The House on Mango Street. She is just great!”- Christina

You bring out the Mexican in me.
The hunkered thick dark spiral.
The core of a heart howl.
The bitter bile.
The tequila lagrimas on Saturday all
through next weekend Sunday.

Check out other works by Sandra Cisneros in our catalog.

“Brown Penny” by William Butler Yeats © All Rights Reserved
“The major symbol in this poem is the ‘brown penny.’  To find out whether or not he is in love, the man flips a penny. He takes a chance. As with flipping a penny, the young man doesn’t know how it will land or what the future holds. But he risks it for love.” – Linsy

I whispered, ‘I am too young,’
And then, ‘I am old enough’;
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.

Explore more of William Butler Yeats in our library catalog.

“Self-Portrait at 28” by David Berman © All Rights Reserved
“David Berman is probably best known as the gravel voiced songwriter behind the (now-defunct) band Silver Jews, but he’s also a damn good poet on paper. His excellent book of poetry, Actual Air, contains one of my favorite poems, ‘Self-Portrait at 28.’ The last couple stanzas get me every time.” – Ira

“You see,
his mind can only hold one thought at a time
and when he finally hears me call his name
he looks up and cocks his head
and for a single moment
my voice is everything:
Self-portrait at 28.”

There you have it, folks! All of these wonderful poems are available through the library catalog. Happy Poetry Month!


Note: These works are not owned by the library

© All Rights Reserved


Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit

Poetry is Slammin’

April is National Poetry Month! Poetry can be a great way to express yourself, and some of the world’s greatest literary works take the form of poems. Celebrate this month of poets, rhythm, meter, metrical patterns, stanzas, alliteration, diction and form by learning about one of the library’s many poetry resources.

National Poetry Month was established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets.

Online Resources

  • MLA International Bibliography
    This database is your first stop for literary criticism and analysis of novels, short stories, poems, etc.
  • Literature Resource Center
    This database is a bio-bibliographical guide to writers in fiction, general nonfiction, poetry, journalism, drama, motion pictures, television, and other fields. It’s searchable by name, title of work, subject/genre, nationality, date and place of birth, honors, awards and more.
  • Contemporary American Ethnic Poets: Lives, Works, Sources
    This one-stop guide to 75 contemporary American poets from 12 different ethnicities includes biographical sketches, thematic discussions, and more.
  • Greenwood Companion to Shakespeare Vol. 4: The Romances & Poetry
    This nifty tool has prose interpretations of Shakespeare’s sonnets!
  • Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets & Poetry
    Separated into 5 volumes, this handy encyclopedia lists both author and poem topics alphabetically, making it easy to locate info on a specific writer, or find sweet poetry about everything from the Black Arts Movement to Visual Poetry.
  • Thematic Guide to British Poetry
    This guide offers interpretations of 415 poems, representing the work of over 110 poets spanning seven centuries of British poetry.
  • Poetry Tool
    Online archive of full text poetry with a robust search engine. It also includes numerous articles, podcasts, and audio on poets and poetry, brought to you by the Poetry Foundation.

Books & More
You can also search the library catalog by poem title, author or genre for books of poetry and books about poetry and poets. If you’re looking for some recommendations, check out our Poetry! Pinterest Board. And if you’re really feeling inspired, sign up to receive a Poem-A-Day via email, courtesy of

Still not finding that perfect poetry source? Ask a Librarian for help, and poetic justice shall surely be yours!

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit