I hear often that people want to read poetry but don't know where to begin. These are my suggestions!
  1. Over the Anvil We Stretch by Anis Mojgani
    Slam poetry is not my aesthetic, but Anis in written form has so many more layers than Anis in performance. There's a healthy amount of experimentation, but it's still an open door for the beginning reader. Trigger warning: love poems.
  2. Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
    These illustrated poems are playful and strangely emotional. There are poems about dogs and there are poems about humans from a dog's perspective. If you love dogs, or animals in general, you'll probably relate.
  3. Something New and Daily by David Horowitz
    This is the perfect first book for the socially-conscious reader. It's unapologetically black, sad, accessible (unfortunately, accessibility is something poets sometimes feel the need to apologize for), and angry. The problem is finding a copy. It's long out of print. If you're local, you can borrow my copy if interested.
  4. Behind My Eyes by Li-Young Lee
    LYL is my favorite poet, but he can be incomprehensible. This latest book of his sacrifices some mystery, which makes it not one of my favorites, but the only book of his that I can suggest for the absolute beginner. All of that being said, it's still LYL, so it's still well-crafted and beautiful. Be sure to bring your thinking pants for this one.
  5. Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen
    This is a great first poetry book. The poems rhyme mostly, which may give you some comfort at an entry-level, and they're simply poignant and witty. (Sorry I don't have a classy picture for this one. My copy is currently on loan.)
  6. Our Men Do Not Belong To Us by Warsan Shire
    I don't have a classy picture for this one because it's available for FREE online here: which is part of the reason I'm suggesting it. If you watched Beyoncé's 'Lemonade', you'll recognize Shire's name from the credits. Her work is frank and full of questions. Her style is simple and accessible, but biting. If she's good enough to inspire Bey, she's good enough for you.