Perking Up Your Poetry

In the spirit of the most romantic month of the year, I put together a list of some contemporary poetry collections to perk up your poetry sections this February.  In the last two years my high school students have been diving more into our poetry collection.  Most start out looking for classic poets like Brookes, Dickenson, Poe, and Whitman.  As they grow as readers and sometimes poets themselves, they want to read more contemporary poetry.  My response was to investigate and curate a section that speaks to the high school student of today.


Gathering Resources

Gathering information about what contemporary poets were out in the world was step one. I started with conversations with students who would be browsing the section. I would ask who they were reading, what the topics of the poetry they liked revolved around, and in what format they read it in.  From there I started a TitleWave list to organize all my ordering information.  I primarily used library journals like School Library Journal and Booklist.  I also looked at Target for ideas as well.  A lot of the feedback I received from my students gave me this idea and I have to say I got some great ideas here. 

Titles I Chose

Once I had created my list  I felt good about the range of topics, poets, and styles that I included.  The table below lists the titles and authors of what I purchased.  This list is intended for high school students, some content may be too mature for other levels. 

Black Girl, Call Home By: Jasmine Mans Band Nerds: Poetry from the 13th Chair Trombone Player Edited By: D.J. Corchin
How To Love The World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope Edited By: James Crews The Best American Poetry 2020 Edited By: Paisley Rekdal
Living Beyond Borders: Growing Up Mexican in America Edited By: Margarita Longoria Home Body By: Rupi Kaur
Where Hope Comes From: Poems of Resilience, Healing and Light By: Nikita Gill I Hope You Stay By: Courtney Peppernell
We Hope This Reaches You In Time By: Samantha King Holmes What Kind of Woman: Poems By: Kate Baer
Every Word You Cannot Say By: Iain S. Thomas Native Voices: Indigenous American Poetry, Craft, and Conversations Edited By: CMarie Fuhrman

Poetry has evolved and changed over countless literary years.  The messages and topics have evolved along the way as well.  Perking up your poetry section to include the classics and more contemporary poets will draw students into the world of poetry.  A great way to incorporate so many curricular topics and budding general interest in our students in the month of love this year.


Author: Elizabeth Libberton

Elizabeth Libberton is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the ALA Awards Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the steering committee for the AISLE Lincoln Book Award.

Categories: Collection Development

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