Over the last few weeks, I’ve been diving headfirst into poetry books. I used to strictly write poetry when I was an early teen. My friends and I had notebooks upon notebooks of poems that we shared with each other. Long before Instagram was even thought of, we were each other’s audience, likes, and comment section—and we were the best ones at that.
As I got older, my interest in poetry was replaced with Sailor Moon and Magic Knight Rayearth crossover fan fiction. Then, I wrote a novella of my own when I was 14. (But that’s a post for another day.) I would revisit poetry again in college when I took several prose courses for my writing capstone, but otherwise, my poetry-writing days died when I turned 18.
Lately, I’ve been revisiting poetry and prose through some of my favorite millennial poets. Poetry has come a long way since the days of Yeats and Shakespeare. However, when most people hear the word “poetry,” they probably still think of sonnets and rhymes and iambic pentameter. Poetry and prose is so much more than that.
I took it upon myself to purchase and read four new poetry books through the month of January. And I’m so glad I did. If you’re into poetry like am I, then I highly recommend checking out these.
Swimming Lessons by Lili Reinhert
Singer-songwriter Lili Reinhert’s debut poetry collection Swimming Lessons is a bittersweet take on love lost, love found, and love lost again. Phrases like “When we throw away our / old bouquets, / we don’t regret buying them / in the first place. / We live knowing that there / will be an expiration date” did a lovely job at capturing the feeling after a relationship ends.
But she also covers the joys of love. “Don’t save me from / whatever universe this is / that allows me to be on the / receiving end of your lips” sang out to me sweetly. It is a lovely collection of poetry and a great introduction to prose. Plus the cover art has these gorgeous, gold foil details.
September Love by Lang Leav
Lang Leav’s poetry is among my favorites, and it’s been that way for years, since I first discovered her on Tumblr when I was in college. Her latest poetry collection, September Love, is no exception. From her clever use of rhymes—“You’ll get what you want / if you’re willing to wait / If not when you want it / then when it’s too late”—to sentences I related to a little too much—“I need a day where I am not asked, wanted, or noticed”—there is truly a poem in here for everyone.
My favorite poem from the collection? “Too Close,” particularly the ending: “Now that you love me, are you afraid / to know me? Will distance tell you / what your heart refuses to see? / You’re too close to me, my love. / You’re missing everything.”
Flux by Orion Carloto
I discovered Orion Carloto a year or two ago and ever since have been intrigued by her online persona. I bought both of her poetry books to see if her poetry gave off that very same unique aura, and I was pleasantly surprised. Carloto is more than just a pretty face and designer sunglasses—she has a heart of gold.
In her debut poetry collection, Carloto walks you through various unrequited, often flighty lovers. She revisits old memories and paints nostalgic scenarios beautifully, then pulls out one-sentence prose that packs a punch. My favorite was “Burning Bridges,” where she writes, “I’ve become a master at burning the same bridges I wasted my time building,” a feeling I can relate to a lot.
Perhaps what I appreciated the most, as an avid journaler, are the scans of her notebook pages. It was an even more personal touch to an already intimate collection of words.
Film for Her by Orion Carloto
Carloto’s second and most recent book of poems comes in the form of Film for Her, a collection inspired by her photography. In her words, the book is “an ode to her youth, a supercut of dreams, and a homage to growing up.” It is embellished with photographs and clippings of poetry scribbled on hotel paper.
Much like her first book, Carloto does a great job of creating jarring, yet relatable imagery about love: “They say distance makes it easy / but you planted your seed / I’ve got roses in my lungs / Makes it harder to breathe.”
But this time around, she also writes more prose about herself, flaws and all, and her family. It was refreshing to get a peek into her life through her photography but also a peak into her brain. The whole thing was the very image of nostalgia and the chance to see her how she sees herself.
What poetry books have you been reading lately? Which poets should I check out next? I’d love to know!
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Megan Portorreal is a professional writer, editor, and creative in the New York City area. In her spare time, she enjoys reading books, writing about her life, and playing video games.