Contemporary female poets you should be reading
Poetry is alive and is doing just fine.
Poetry is enjoying an upheaval on social media lately, and it's been incredible to watch. From the poets of Tumblr to the poets of Instagram, poetry is enjoying a resurgence. At the head of this revival are the poets whose words are shared the most, and whose work is followed by tens of thousands of adoring fans.
As someone who is active on social media – particularly on Pinterest – I've followed this journey closely, and, I have to confess, pretty happily. Poetry is alive and is doing just fine, and in the spirit of that message here are some young poets you may want to add to your reading list right away.
Warsan Shire (Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth)
“I know a few things to be true. I do not know where I am going, where I have come from is disappearing, I am unwelcome and my beauty is not beauty here. My body is burning with the shame of not belonging, my body is longing.”
Warsan Shire – a 29-year old Kenyan born Somali poet and writer – is based in London, England. Published in 2011, 'Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth' is a book filled with words that smack you in the face and leave you breathless. Each poem is a story of pain and journey and trauma and survival, and each poem is its own narrative. The entire book put together is a journey with Warsan, who has read her work extensively around the world, and whose work has been translated into multiple languages.
Rupi Kaur (Milk and Honey)
“I am a museum full of art
but you had your eyes shut.”
Rupi Kaur is a 24-year old writer and artist living in Toronto, Canada. Her book of prose and poetry, entitled 'Milk and Honey', was published in 2015. Her work is intensely personal and is about love, loss, trauma, healing, and femininity. Split into four chapters, each chapter deals with a different subject and heals a different heartache. Rupi travels around the world performing her spoken-word poetry and conducting writing workshops.
Clementine von Radics (Mouthful of Forevers)
“I know sometimes
it’s still hard to let me see you
in all your cracked perfection,
but please know:
whether it’s the days you burn
more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.”
Clementine von Radics is a 25-year old poet based in Portland, Oregon; her book of poetry entitled 'Mouthful of Forevers' is named after the poem of the same name that went viral on Tumblr and catapulted its young writer to international fame. The poem (a part of which I quoted above) has inspired wedding vows, YouTube videos, and even tattoos, and enjoys a cult following. The book – dealing with love, loss, and uncertainty – is written in a haunting yet incisive style that was originally intended to inspire teenage girls, but that ended up finding a home in the hearts of all of us who have felt those things.
Nikita Gill (Your Soul Is A River)
“The way you have loved
speaks volumes about you.
The way they leave speaks
volumes about them.
Your love is not poison.
Their inability to appreciate is.”
This book comes with directions to 'apply gently to the soul while sitting under the stars', and it seems like a good set of instructions for this book, with its hopeful and healing slant. This is a book about emergence from trauma and pain; it is a book about a rebirthing. Nikita Gill is a 30-year old poet and artist based in London, England, and this book is the result of her posting her poetry on Instagram. Although it was rejected a grand total of 137 times by publishers, Gill persevered, and has gone on to become a contemporary poet with the best of them.
Lang Leav (Love & Misadventure)
“It was a question I had worn on my lips for days - like a loose thread on my favourite sweater I couldn't resist pulling - despite knowing it could all unravel around me.
"Do you love me?" I ask.
In your hesitation I found my answer.”
Based in New Zealand, Lang Leav is a 34-year old poet whose work first appeared on Tumblr. She is a social media sensation and enjoys a huge fan following. 'Love & Misadventure' is a book of prose and poetry that follows an ill-fated love affair from start to culmination, from the heady highs to the bitter lows. Leav's poetic style is direct and simplistic, yet she has an ability to accurately translate emotion to the page.
Who are your favourite contemporary poets?