The Top 100 Books Every Woman Should Read Part IV: Poetry

The Best Poetry.

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The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson

"Because I could not stop for Death He kindly stopped for me The Carriage held but just Ourselves And Immortality." Buy it on Amazon.

She Had Some Horses by Joy Harjo

In this classic collection, the Native American poet and performance artist explores the intricacies of womanhood. Buy it on Amazon.

New Collected Poems by Eavan Boland

Dublin-born Boland’s subversive, fiercely feminist poetry examines the role of women in Irish society. Buy it on Amazon.

The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova

The Soviet poet wrote about the difficulties of living in Stalinist Russia and she won a bevy of female fans-in 1914, thousands of woman penned verses in her honor. Buy it on Amazon.

The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde

Lorde, a Caribbean-American writer whose poetry was published regularly in the 1960s, set out to challenge white feminists. She argued that white feminists were similar to male slave owners in that both were "agents of oppression." Buy it on Amazon.

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

"Love set you going like a fat gold watch. The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry Took its place among the elements." -From Morning Song Buy it on Amazon.

The Dream Songs by John Berryman

Berryman’s classic collection of Dream Songs were originally published in 1977. Known for their nontraditional form, the Dream Songs follow a middle-aged man named Henry, who must deal with personal tragedy. Buy it on Amazon.

Elizabeth Bishop: The Complete Poems 1927-1979

Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950, Bishop is considered one of the most important poets of the twentieth century. Buy it on Amazon.

Shakespeare’s Sonnets

"My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips’ red: If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. I have seen roses damask’d, red and white, But no such roses see I in her cheeks; And in some perfumes is there more delight Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. I love to hear her speak,—yet well I know That music hath a far more pleasing sound; I grant I never saw a goddess go, My mistress when she walks, treads on the ground; And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare." -Sonnet 130 Buy it on Amazon.

Mother Love by Rita Dove

Based on the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone, Mother Love explores the relationship between mother and daughter. Buy it on Amazon.

Given Sugar, Given Salt by Jane Hirshfield

Hirshfield is fascinated by the everyday, giving meaning to the otherwise mundane aspects of life, such as buttons and the elusiveness of sleep. Buy it on Amazon.

Trapeze by Deborah Digges

In Trapeze, Digges reflects on a woman’s passage into midlife as well as the loss of her husband: "See how the first dark takes the city in its arms and carries it into what yesterday we called the future." Buy it on Amazon.

The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson

Carson ruminates on Keats’ idea that beauty is truth in this essay, which is told in 29 tangos. "A tango (like a marriage) is something you have to dance to the end." Buy it on Amazon.

E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems 1904-1962

"(of Ever-Ever Land i speak sweet morons gather roun’ who does not dare to stand or sit may take it lying down)" -From of Ever-Ever Land i speak Buy it on Amazon.

Miracle Fair by Wislawa Szymborska

The Polish poet’s major themes-the ironies of love, the wonders of nature’s beauty, the illusory character of art-are collected here. Buy it on Amazon.

Mary Oliver: New and Selected Poems

Oliver’s poetry is inspired by her childhood in Ohio and by nature. An avid walker, Oliver incorporates traveling on foot into her poetic process. Buy it on Amazon.

The Dream of the Unified Field by Jorie Graham

"On my way to bringing you the leotard you forgot to include in your overnight bag, the snow started coming down harder. I watched each gathering of leafy flakes melt round my footfall. I looked up into it-late afternoon but bright. Nothing true or false in itself. Just motion. Many strips of motion. Filaments of falling marked by the tiny certainties of flakes. Never blurring yet themselves a cloud." -From The Dream of the Unified Field Buy it on Amazon.

Elephant Rocks by Kay Ryan

Ryan, the sixteenth poet laureate of the United States, is often compared to Emily Dickinson and Marianne Moore because she favors short, quirky poems. Buy it on Amazon.

My Poems by Marina Tsvetaeva

The Soviet poet chronicled her many love affairs with men and women in her writing. Buy it on Amazon.

The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck

Gluck meditates on themes of time and mortality in this collection, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. Buy it on Amazon.


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