Want to get into poetry?

Shakespeare doesnt own poetry, you know! It doesnt have to be confusing!

Photo taken from the Shakespeare Memes FaceBook group

Shakespeare doesn’t own poetry, you know! It doesn’t have to be confusing!

Anna Jordan, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Poetry can be a pretty daunting genre to break through, both as a reader and a writer. It seems like everyone is either the greatest poet to ever live or the most talentless hack— Shakespeare is overrated, Byron is boring, Shelley is confusing— so where do we start? I personally like to try a little bit of everything, no matter the rumors social media or Mr. Bevins funnel into my ears, and I mean that. I once read Gabbie Hanna’s poetry, for crying out loud! Everyone is different, but I have a few recommendations to make your entrance a little less intimidating until you find your own taste in poetry.

– Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker is like “the Great Gatsby” but not insufferable. (Photo taken from the Penguin Random House website)

Dorothy Parker is the quintessential female poet of meaningful couplets that everyone tries to mimic with terrible teenage poetry. Her swift but powerful pieces are a great way to get the hang of free verse while not feeling too intimidated by extensive quatrains, and her prose is not impossible to understand if you’re inexperienced with complicated poetic wording. I recommend her collection “Enough Rope” to start, and if Dorothy suits your fancy, you’ll have quite a few more collections and texts to choose from.

– Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is the least overrated person in the world. (Photo taken from the Left Bank Books website)

Angelou is one of the most quoted poets of our time and for good reason. She holds a rare power over lyrical prose without losing the meaning of the poem and offers an extremely poignant window into her experiences as a person of color, a woman, and a woman of color in the United States. Though her language is adorned, her messages are clear and new readers likely won’t find themselves lost on their first try. I recommend her most famous collection to start, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

– Margaret Atwood

Though it may leave you questioning your place in this world, you can’t go wrong with Atwood. (Photo taken from the Goodreads website)

Atwood is a perfect place to start for literature fans, especially classical literature like “The Odyssey” or anything Shakespeare has ever written. Though she can employ flowery language, she shines in biting one-liners that leave your mouth open out of shock and don’t take too long to read (though they take a long time to leave your brain). Each of her pieces is like a filling meal that needs to digest for a bit before if fully leaves you, so you’ll be busy with just a few poems at a time from her collection “Dearly.”

– Nico Demers (Buckknife)

Poetry is more than old guys that speak in tongues, and Nico Demers is proof of that! (Photo taken from the Buckknife Books website)

If you’re not a fan of the classics or the famous favorites, I think the best place to start is someone close to your demographic. I found Nico Demers and his poetry on TikTok under his handle “buckknife,” and I’ve loved every collection he’s released so far with my favorite being his most recent book “Belly.” He writes about his experiences as a young person experiencing what the world has to offer for the first time, emanating the earnestness of the beat movement that occurred during the ’40s and ’50s. If you’ve never enjoyed reading poetry in English class but your attracted to the medium and its possibilities I highly recommend not only starting with Nico Demers, but also figuring out your preferences by looking around TikTok for a style that speaks to you.

Exploring a new hobby can feel embarrassing or intimidating, but poetry has something for everyone: though something might not stick at first, keep trying until you find an aspect you enjoy, whether that’s an author, a movement, or a style. Sonnets and haikus, epics and couplets— try a little bit of everything and I’m sure you’ll stumble upon something you connect to!