Seven Poetry Collections To Read In Your 20s
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Politics and Activism

Seven Poetry Collections To Read In Your 20s

Because words remind us that we're not alone.

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Seven Poetry Collections To Read In Your 20s
James S Jaffe Rare Book

In our 20s, we're so busy with school, work, and our personal lives that books often go unnoticed in favor of other releases. When we forget how powerful the written word is, we're missing out on an amazing opportunity to find ourselves within the pages; in books, we can see our own experiences through that of another. Poetry, in particular, allows the writer to release their innermost feelings in the most beautiful way possible; as Wordsworth once said, poetry is the "spontaneous overflow of powerful emotion." Therefore, poetry becomes crucial to truly understand and get through the roller coaster that is your 20s.

1. "Crush" by Richard Siken.

"Crush" is a collection of poems concerned with everyday subtleties of young love; the scent of your lover’s jacket, the living room you decorated together, late-night car rides. Yet, there’s nothing subtle about his fiercely erotic language regarding how when we’re in our 20S, love is driven by obsession. Read this when you’re in love and you’ll see yourself in the pages

2. "Milk And Honey" by Rupi Kaur.

Rupi Kaur splits "Milk and Honey" into four chapters, dealing with the raw pain of femininity, loss, violence, and abuse. Yet her language is never difficult to read and each poem is relatively short. It contains an uncomplicated sweetness that only a young person has the ability to write. Illustrations accompany each poem, adding to the simple beauty of the work. Read it in bed after a long day.

3. "Wild Iris" by Louise Gluck.

Louise Gluck is known as one of the most celebrated poets today. Her poetry is absolutely gorgeous, and despite her immense acclaim, it's simple to understand. Her poems don’t often have a difficult story to follow, so it’s easy to enjoy the loveliness of her language. Read it when you want some beautiful words as a distraction from your thick textbooks.

4. "The Gold Cell" by Sharon Olds.

Sharon Olds explores themes of erotic love, capturing perfectly the obsessive nature of young people in the way that they feel about their sexuality with themselves and others. I love how Sharon Olds incorporates the topic of “firsts” in the most interesting way possible; she talks about first loves, first sexual experiences, so that we can see ourselves in them. This makes her a fascinating poet for young people. Read it after you unearth your ancient journal in which you described your own “firsts.”

5. "No Matter the Wreckage" by Sarah Kay.

Known mostly for her spoken word poetry, "No Matter The Wreckage" is Sarah Kay’s first collection of written poems. What’s special about Kay is that many of her poems were written as a young adult. This voice shines through her discussions on parenthood, love, and the pains of being young. Her poetry is mostly interested in describing the every day. Read it when you feel like you can’t talk to anyone else about your problems -- Sarah Kay has probably written about it.

6. "Burning in Water Drowning in Flame" by Charles Bukowski.

Perhaps the most well known of all the poets listed here, Bukowski is famous for his candid language and challenging subject matter. "Burning in Water Drowning in Flame" contains edgy discussions on a range of topics from drinking to failure, to obsessive lust. The language here is relatively straightforward, yet the stories Bukowski creates in his poems do not fail to captivate his audience. Read it on a hungover morning.

7. "My Feelings" by Nick Flynn.

As the title suggests, "My Feelings" contains an intimate meditation on the range of emotions we experience. However, it is not the melodramatic feeling that you might imagine would come with such a title, rather it is a more devastating kind that comes from significant life events. I will warn you that there is some difficult content here, so keep that in mind before perusing. For those willing, read it while you’re the one experiencing a difficult time and will thus bring these difficult feelings.
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