Poetry tends to have somewhat of a pretentious reputation in culture. The reason for this being that when we learn about poetry in an educational setting in school, we learn about Robert Frost, Williams Carlos Williams and the like. Now don't get me wrong, all of those dead upper class, white men are incredibly talented poets. However, they can come off as a bit inaccessible, to say the least, unless you have been specifically taught and trained on how to read poetry. Contemporary poetry has been shifting, though. Thanks to poets such as Warsan Shire and Rupi Kaur, whose poetry is not only accessible to mainstream audiences and the general public by way of social media and pop culture, but also but their nature and dialect. Here are five contemporary poets whose 2017 anthologies are continuing to break down the exclusive walls around poetry.

1. "There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé" by Morgan Parker

"The death story might be a hashtag, a name folded into another name. My name might be a list, or a hymn, or a body, an investigation, a year, a lineage. I might become an autopsy, and the reason won’t matter, only my understanding, my swallowing of my rightful place, tectonic plates clicking like a jaw, and—stubbornly, like history—my mouth becoming their mouth speaking who I am. "

-"A Brief History Of The Present"


2. "When I Grow Up I Want To Be A List of Further Possibilities" by Chen Chen

"Trying to get
over what my writer friend said, All you write about is being gay or Chinese.
Wish I had thought to say to him, All you write about is being white

or an asshole. Wish I had said, No, I already write about everything—"

-"Poem In Noisy Mouthfuls"


3. "Shrinking Ultraviolet" by Rebecca Bird

"It is 2am little bird and the cars are passing by like afternoons

a sleepy one every now and then and the frost has deepened

like a voice across town you are perched
in your uncle’s coat hug-warm a bridge rotting beneath

already wondering how you’d look pressed into silt.
If I could reach from my window I would pluck you out

and brush the dark from your knees I need to know
sweet bird did you leave a note? and does it tell me

what you see in the water
and what the water sees in you"

- "Golden Gate Pt 2"


4. "The January Children" by Safia Elhillo

"do you like it do you like / the way I mimic my mother's / accent when saying aloud a word / I cannot pronounce & have only / ever seen written down"

- "Boys Like Me Better When They Can't Place Where I'm From"


5. "The Blessing Of Dark Water" by Elizabeth Lyons

"No amount of prayer or balm can fix this. / Your body cannot find north. / It is entirely dark. / You are a sad twin, standing at the bed's edge, / counting your mistakes. / A man leaves, says you have a knife / where your heart should be. / This is why the compass won't obey you, / why the doctors can't find your pulse. / It is dark entirely."

-"Apology"