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 Herrera’s work often touches on racial identity and this work collects both newer, previously unpublished material as well as older poems that have stuck with the poet.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.

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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 Poets.org.

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

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