Twelve classic poetry collections to check out now…

I have poetry all around my house. On shelves, in drawers, under the couch, in the basement, in the car…

I read widely and I am always interested in new and different voices. I am determined to read and grow from collections representing poets from all corners of the globe.

But at the end of the day, the collections you’ll see below are some of the islands whose treasures I keep returning to, again and again. So often so, that to save time and effort I now keep them within arm’s reach on the floor and nightstand. I refer to them often. They are beloved teachers.

This is not a complete list. Nor is it a particularly diverse collection. Some might wonder where the new young voices are. I love them too, but hell, classic great writing is great writing. It’s basically a list of my essential “Velveteen Rabbits” …my tried and true bedside poetry collection…personal favorites which particularly resonate, for me, because of their strength, their art, their images, their impeccable craft, their wild abandon.  With a nod to National Poetry Month, I offer them to you symbolically, now. I hope you’ll enjoy exploring some of these, too. As I look forward to adding more to the pile. Check them out…

Elizabeth Bishop, The Collected Poems, 1927-1979 (The Noonday Press) 1980



Maxine Kumin, Where I Live: New and Selected Poems (W.W. Norton), 2011.


Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977 (W.W. Norton and Company) 1993.


Marge Piercy, The Hunger Moon, New and Selected Poems 1980-2010 (Knopf) 2012.


Maya Angelou, The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House) 1994.


Anne Sexton, The Complete Poems (Houghton Mifflin) 1981.


Louise Glück, The Wild Iris ( Ecco  ) 1993.


Lucille Clifton, Blessing the Boats, New and Collected Poems 1988-2000 (BOA Editions) 2000.


Wislawa Szymborska, View with a Grain of Sand, Selected Poems (Harvest) 1995.


Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems, (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) 2008.


Denise Levertov, The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov (New Directions) 2013.


Eavan Boland, New Collected Poems (W.W. Norton and Company) 2009.

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And one final collection I sense will soon be joining this beloved group:

Rita Dove, Collected Poems: 1974-2004 (W.W. Norton and Company) To be released May, 2016)


I realize I’ve given no specific explanation, no academic description. I’m intentionally not attempting to instruct you in what I think you should notice or take away from them.

I sincerely hope you’ll trust me on this, though… Just get to your library or store and experience one of these gems for yourself!

Happy National Poetry Month…from my collection to yours!


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