I know for many people poetry is a love hate thing, and I completely understand why. While I am a professed poetry lover, I must confess that I don’t love it all. Not all poetry is the same. Poetry can either blow your mind, or frankly bore you to tears. Today I have four poetry collections written by women that are different, mind blowing, and thought provoking. I make no guarantees about falling in love with poetry after reading them, however, I don’t think you’ll have the urge to nod off mid-verse while reading them either. These women are fearless and relentless, and tell you exactly how it is in such a beautiful and simplistic way.
Warsan Shire’s first poetry collection Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth delves into the darkness of being a woman, a refugee, and a person of color. Her poems are raw. She tackles her family’s life and eventual flight from war torn Somalia. Her poems are an intimate look at what war does to families and women. She writes about the loss and loneliness, of refugee life in a country where her beauty is other and not appreciated, strength, heartbreak, witnessing one’s own city turn to ash, and former lovers turn into murderers. Ultimately, her poems speak about the power of human endurance in the face of atrocity. They are absolutely timeless, and reflective of the world’s current climate. “I hope the journey meant more than miles, because all of my children are in the water. I thought the see was safer than the land.”
Suheir Hammad is a Brooklyn raised Palestinian poet who writes about the ghost of her ancestral homeland, Palestine. She doesn’t shy away from making you uncomfortable. In fact, that’s what she aims to do in her poetry collection, Zaatar Diva. In making the reader face the harshness of diaspora, she humanizes it by showing how even the most cruelest situations can give birth to compassion. Hammad’s poems depict Palestinian culture both here in the United States and in Palestine. She writes about her mother’s love of music, her sisters’ strength and love, her own love for her family, the struggle of being of Middle Eastern desent post 9/11, and her dedication to fight for human dignity everywhere. “But these people 42851-054-5812 the believe human being can never be reduced to numbers not in concentration camps or reservations not in refuge camps not in schools and not in jails.”
Sarah Kay ‘s No Matter The Wreckage has a little bit for us all. The poet enthusiast and the poet reluctant. She can be sharp and serious in one verse, and silly and playful the next. Chances are you might have seen some of her spoken word performances online, and many of those same poems are in No Matter The Wreckage. Her poems are perfect to read at any stage in your life, and for any mood. They can make you cry and laugh in the same breath. Her poem’s topics range from forbidden love in India, reincarnation, the bombing of Hiroshima, and the strength and courage she wants to pass on to her daughter. “You are a woman. Skin and bones. Veins and nerves. Hair and sweat. You are not made of metaphors. Not apologies. Not excuses.”
Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey gives words to feelings you didn’t even know you had. I felt so proud to be a woman while reading her collection. I felt an ownership over my own body and feelings. She validates every feeling of loneliness, heartbreak, and longing you have and will ever feel. So many amazing verses and one liners that help you make sense of the nonsensical. Kaur’s collection features themes of abuse, love, sexuality, and feminism. Her poems are a glass of wine on a rough day. “Our backs tell stories no books have the spine to carry.
Have any of you read these or seen these women’s perform their poems? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Happy Reading 🙂