Where to Start

I’ve gone a little poetry mad over the past few days and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. From all the poetry talk, my friend Paul (who runs an awesome book blog) asked me last night where he should start as he’s a poetry novice reader.

I have tried to not just choose poems I love but ones that I think offer a “way in” to poetry and I’ve picked a range of authors so that if you like something there is a chance you’ll like more by the same poet. I’ve also only chosen poems that are available online so that they can be read straightaway.

One day, if I can get some recommendations from people, I would love to take reader’s favourite books and try to find a poem or poet that people would probably like to see if it’s possible to match that way…

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins
This man is my poetry hero and obviously this is a great poem to start with on this list! I think he’s great at seeing what poetry is to different people and how importance can change based on perspective.

The Wild Dog by Stevie Smith
She’s known for many things but Smith was a true master of shorter verse that packed a punch.

Shut Not Your Doors by Walt Whitman
This excellent little poem is from Whitman’s best known collection, Leaves of Grass.

View from a Window by Kona Macphee
A wonderful poem, rhyming and visceral full of unexpected imagery that stays inside your mind’s eye.

R&R by Brian Turner
My favourite poem from the amazing Here, Bullet collection. Modern war poetry at its absolute best.

Somethin’ New by Shel Silverstein
Silverstein is often called a children’s poet but the amount of depth in even simple poems is shown so perfectly in his work that adults get as much out of it as children.

Dedication by Czesław Miłosz
Translated poetry is often overlooked but Czesław Miłosz should never be left out of any list. Nobel prize winner and hero of mine this is just a taste of his great depth and clear view of the people around him.

Returning Monday Morning from a Weekend on the North Fork by Susan Minot
Susan Minot is a favourite of mine in various media but her poetry collection Poems 4 a.m. is wonderful, split into locations #I love the London part best. This links to a whole series of samples from the book. It’s very blunt and unflinching.

Poem Without Words by Matthew Francis
This is the first poem of his I ever read and I fell in love with his humour and style. His books are always thoughtful and hard to put down. A very wry sort of poetry that stays with you.

The Heat of Autumn by Jane Hirshfield
This poem is a great example of how Hirshfield is able to take you down one road and then twist it to go somewhere else entirely.

Love Song by Dorothy Parker
There had to be a DP in here and this is a cracking one. There’s so much variety with Parker that it’s hard to give an overview but she has huge amounts of power in her words.

Creative Writing by Miroslav Holub
Travel and travelling in this poem which is lovely example of a very varied writer.

This is a very small taster of poetry but a long list for an introduction. If anyone has other suggestions or would like more of my recommendations do please shout-out in the comments. (Or if you have a favourite book and would like a poem suggestion or like one poem/poet



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