There’s a Book for That: Poem in Your Pocket Day
April 29, was Poem in Your Pocket Day! As a grassroots part of National Poetry Month, people celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day and on social media using the hashtag #pocketpoem. Find out more ways to celebrate at Poets.org
Everyman’s Library Pocket Poet Series editions are gorgeous collections to read, savor and share. Here are 12 popular volumes, of the more than 100 in the series, edited by some of our most distinguished poets. Spread the verse!
THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS: POEMS edited by Jane Holloway
Transcending the charm of its Victorian predecessors, this anthology creates an extended, updated, and more robust floral anthology for the twenty-first century, presenting poets through the ages from Sappho, Shakespeare, and Shelley to Ted Hughes, Mary Oliver, and Louise Glück, and across the world from Cuba to Korea, Russia to Zimbabwe. Eastern cultures, rich in flower associations, are well represented: Tang poems celebrating chrysanthemums and peonies, Zen poems about orchids and lotus flowers, poems about jasmine and marigolds from India, and roses and narcissi from Persia, the Ottoman empire, and the Arabic world. The most timeless human emotions and concepts—love, hope, despair, fidelity, grief, beauty, and mortality—find colorful expression in The Language of Flowers.
LOVE POEMS edited by Peter Washington
It has often been said that love, both sacred and profane, is the only true subject of the lyric poem. Nothing better justifies this claim than the splendid poems in this volume, which range from the writings of ancient China to those of modern-day America including poems by John Donne, Christina Rossetti, W. H. Auden, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Graves, e. e. cummings, Dorothy Parker, William Shakespeare, Sappho, Bhartrhari, Anna Akhmatova, and W. B. Yeats, among many others.
HUGHES: POEMS by Langston Hughes
From the publication of his first book in 1926, Langston Hughes was hailed as the poet laureate of black America, the first to commemorate the experience of African Americans in a voice that no reader, black or white, could fail to hear. Lyrical and pungent, passionate and polemical, this volume is a treasure-an essential collection of the work of a poet whose words have entered our common language.
JAZZ POEMS by Kevin Young
From the Harlem Renaissance to the beat movement, from the poets of the New York school to the contemporary poetry scene, the jazz aesthetic has been a compelling literary force—one that Jazz Poems makes palpable. We hear it in the poems of Langston Hughes, E. E. cummings, William Carlos Williams, Frank O’Hara, and Gwendolyn Brooks, and in those of Yusef Komunyakaa, Charles Simic, Rita Dove, Ntozake Shange, Mark Doty, William Matthews, and C. D. Wright. Here are poems that pay tribute to jazz’s great voices, and poems that throb with the vivid rhythm and energy of the jazz tradition, ranging in tone from mournful elegy to sheer celebration.
PLATH: POEMS by Sylvia Plath
A representative selection of verse by the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who left in the wake of her personal tragedy a legacy of poems that combine terrifying intensity and dazzling artistry. With their brutally frank self-exposure and emotional immediacy, Plath’s poems, from “Lady Lazarus” to “Daddy,” have had an enduring influence on contemporary poetry.
RUMI: UNSEEN POEMS edited and translated by Brad Gooch, Maryam Mortaz
Rumi (1207-1273) was trained in Sufism—a mystic tradition within Islam—and founded the Sufi order known to us as the Whirling Dervishes, who use dance and music as part of their spiritual devotion. Rumi’s poetry has long been popular with contemporary Western audiences because of the way it combines the sacred and the sensual, describing divine love in rapturously human terms.
However, a number of Rumi’s English translators over the past century were not speakers of Persian and they based their sometimes very free interpretations on earlier translations. In this new translation—composed almost entirely of untranslated gems from Rumi’s vast oeuvre—Brad Gooch and Maryam Mortaz aim to achieve greater fidelity to the originals while still allowing Rumi’s lyric exuberance to shine.
FROST: POEMS edited by John Hollander
From one of the most brilliant and widely read of all American poets, a generous selection of lyrics, dramatic monologues, and narrative poems–all of them steeped in the wayward and isolated beauty of Frost’s native New England. Includes his classics “Mending Wall, ” “Birches, ” and “The Road Not Taken, ” as well as poems less famous but equally great.
DICKINSON: POEMS edited by Peter Washington
POEMS ABOUT TREES edited by Harry Thomas
Poets from Homer and Virgil to Wordsworth, Whitman, and Thoreau, from Su Tung P’o and Basho to Czeslaw Milosz and W. S. Merwin have celebrated sacred groves, wild woodlands, and bountiful orchards, and the results include some of our most beloved poems. Whether showing their subjects being planted or felled, cherished or lamented, towering in forests or flowering in backyards, the poems collected here pay lyrical tribute to these majestic beings with whom we share the earth.
POEMS OF THE SEA by J. D. McClatchy
This marvelous collection includes classics old and new, from Homer and Milton to Plath and Merwin. Here are Tennyson’s seductive sea-fairies next to Poe’s beloved Annabel Lee. Here is Coleridge’s darkly brooding “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” alongside the grandeur of Shakespeare’s “Full Fathom Five.” And here is Masefield’s “I must go down to the seas again” alongside Cavafy’s “Ithaka” and Stevens’s “The Idea of Order at Key West.” In the wide variety of lyrics collected here–sonnets and sea chanteys, ballads and hymns and prayers–we feel the encompassing power of our planet’s restless waters as metaphor, mystery, and muse.
BORDER LINES: POEMS OF MIGRATION edited by Mihaela Moscaliuc, Michael Waters
In this remarkable collection—the first of its kind—poets from around the world give eloquent voice to the trials, hopes, rewards, and losses of the experience of migration. Border Lines brings together more than a hundred poets representing more than sixty nationalities, including Mahmoud Darwish, Czeslaw Milosz, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Ruth Padel, Warsan Shire, Derek Walcott, and Ocean Vuong. Their poems offer moving stories of displacement and new beginnings in such places as France, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. A monument to courage and resilience, Border Lines offers an intimate and uniquely global view of the experience of immigrants in our rapidly changing world.
MILLAY: POEMS edited by Diana Secker Tesdell
One of America’s most beloved poets, Edna St. Vincent Millay burst onto the literary scene at a very young age and won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923. Her passionate lyrics and superbly crafted sonnets have thrilled generations of readers long after the notoriously bohemian lifestyle she led in Greenwich Village in the 1920s ceased to shock them. Millay’s refreshing frankness and cynicism and her ardent appetite for life still burn brightly on the page more than half a century after her death.
For more on these and other titles in Everyman’s Library Pocket Poet Series visit Pocket Poets