Poetry is not just a thing of Shakespearean past, but rather one of the most profound ways to express the human spirit as it encounters war, despair, discovery, enlightenment, and love. Whether your heart is breaking into pieces or brimming with joy, a good poem can express all of this and more.
To add emotional depth to your bookshelf, we sifted through poetry books, current and historical, and narrowed down the 20 must-reads about love you should add to your shelf right now.
Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom For A Better Life by Cleo Wade
Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom For A Better Life by Cleo Wade book cover
Cleo Wade Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom For A Better Life $18
Based on various notes author Cleo Wade compiled in her New York City apartment, Heart Talk’s book of poems may likely be the de facto manual for moving through a 21st century world. Wade’s gentle words encourage readers to be graceful with themselves, especially their hearts.
Rhapsody in Plain Yellow: Poems by Marilyn Chin
Rhapsody in Plain Yellow: Poems by Marilyn Chin
Marilyn Chin Rhapsody in Plain Yellow: Poems $16
Marilyn Chin reflects on her sense of self, from her Chinese heritage to her relationship with her mother, in Rhapsody in Plain Yellow. Broad ideas of compassion and healing are brought into focus and refined by Chin’s autobiographical anecdotes.
Empire of Dreams by Giannina Braschi
Empire of Dreams by Giannina Braschi book cover
Giannina Braschi Empire of Dreams (Hardcover) $56
It is absolutely possible to feel as deeply about another human being as a place like New York City. Empire of Dreams, a collection of poems by Giannina Braschi (renowned in Latin American literary circles) is just that—a passionate confessional about 1980s New York, told in three sections.
Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith
Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith book cover
Tracy K. Smith Life on Mars $16
Life on earth contains multitudes, and so does love. The current U.S. poet laureate reveals these dimensions in her collection of intergalactic poems, Life on Mars, about the wonders of the human condition.
Mixed Feelings: Poems and Stories by Avan Jogia
Mixed Feelings: Poems and Stories by Avan Jogia book cover
Avan Jogia Mixed Feelings: Poems and Stories $17
Mixed Feelings, authored by Avan Jogia explores the mixed-race experience alongside interwoven themes of love, identity, and longing in straightforward language with impact. Take for example, the fateful short story, “Mohammad Omar Atif.” “The meter ran and ran, and so did their mouths, so they turned off the meter and circled the block for a while and have been circling each other ever since.”
Love Her Wild by Atticus
Love Her Wild by Atticus book cover
Atticus Love Her Wild $14
Love Her Wild is a collection of short poems that embrace life’s small relatable moments, such as skinny-dipping on a hot summer night. Written by America’s emerging poetry sweetheart, Atticus addresses the highs and lows of love in provocative, brief prose.
The Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry by Various Authors
The Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry book cover
Penguin Classics The Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry $17
This collection features love poems from all “the greats” of post-American and French revolutions—a time which celebrated a new innovative human spirit and its capacity to love. In The Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry, familiar poems such as Blake’s “Tyger” or Coleridge’s “Khubla Khan” read alongside poetry from lesser-known female poets such as Charlotte Smith and Mary Robinson.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur book cover
Rupi Kaur Milk and Honey $14
Written by Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey examines love through the lens of suffering and survival. Kaur’s poems takes readers into dark corners of life—love during or after loss, tragedy and violence, and unveils the sweet moments that still exists within them.
Love Poems by Pablo Neruda
Love Poems by Pablo Neruda book cover
Pablo Neruda Love Poems $10
Originally published anonymously in 1952, Pablo Neruda’s Love Poems once caused a provocative scandal. His poems spoke of passions and sexuality in a way that his formerly deemed “outrageous” poetry would eventually become to be praised. In this thematic book of poetry, Neruda takes refuge in the arms of his lover, Matilde Urrutia, on the dreamy island of Capri, embracing their seascape surroundings with eroticism.
The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace book cover
Amanda Lovelace The Princess Saves Herself in This One $9
This poetry book is broken into four parts—the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. Written by Amanda Lovelace, The Princess Saves Herself in This One explores love, loss, grief, power, and possibilities through the eyes of the author’s own personal experience.