It’s National Poetry Month, so here’s a poetry double-dare

If you aren’t into verse, here are three books that might change your mind.

By Carol / Everett Public Library staff

In case you missed it, last week Serena challenged us all to read poetry, and I was more than eager to pick up the gauntlet. In fact, I had already started building quite a stack of poetry books because I was aware that April is National Poetry Month. I’ve gone on record as stating I hate poetry, and in the years since I have changed my tune, reading any remotely interesting book of poems that crosses my path. Here are a few that are currently on my nightstand. Since poetry is so subjective, I’ve included an excerpt of a poem from each book to give you a sense of what’s waiting for you.

“Peluda” by Melissa Lozada-Oliva

in our family we believe everything is inherited.
if hair is from our father then fear must be from our mother,
who is not hairy, actually, not that brown, either,
but her accent still coats her skin & sticks like wax.

—From “I Shave My Sister’s Back Before Prom”

Known for being an incredible performance poet, Melissa Lozada-Oliva has written a book and I am here for it! “Peluda,” or hairy/hairy beast, explores Latina identity, body image, and hair removal among other things. I find the words flow the best when I imagine Melissa saying them. The rhythm is infectious but instead of simply moving on, I find myself going back over the same poem multiple times and savoring it. It’s that kind of book.

“Electric Arches” by Eve L. Ewing

But you can be your own gin
and your own best sip too.
You can make with him a nation and still be sovereign,
your own gold coin and your own honest trade.
You can touch his hand
and still be your own snapping fingers
when the snare has gone quiet.

—From “appletree [on black womanhood, from and to Erykah Badu]”

Last year I read an essay Dr. Ewing wrote. I can’t recall now which essay or publication, but I can definitively say her words sparked something inside me. That same spark is present throughout “Electric Arches,” her book of poetry, prose and art. Themes center on black girlhood and womanhood with dashes of afro-futurism sprinkled throughout. Dr. Ewing has been called the Zora Neale Hurston of her generation. Pick up “Electric Arches” and see why.

“Sea of Strangers” by Lang Leav

Men don’t compare us
with other women.
They compare us
to an ideal.

—“An Impossible Ideal”

Lang Leav has previously published several books, but this is my first foray into her work. While 215 pages seems a bit lengthy for a book of poetry, I am here to reassure you that the poetry and prose are minimalistic: relatively short but nevertheless accessible to the reader. Themes here include self-discovery, loss and falling in love. I’d recommend “Sea of Strangers” to fans of Amanda Lovelace and Rupi Kaur.

All three of these poets are active and awesome on social media. They are also poets of color and women (metaphorically) cutting themselves open to lyrically share their stories — good and bad — with us readers.

I once hated poetry because I thought it was all awkwardly positioned lines with the sole intent to confuse me in the name of a rhyming scheme. With poetry trending toward relatability and understanding the reader’s soul, I now embrace poetry and hope you will too — I double-dare you!

If you read one of these or any book of poetry, you can enter to win a prize in our monthly reading challenge. But I’m hoping you’re so taken with these poems you’ll be happy with the everlasting prize of discovering a poet that speaks to you.

Welcome to the poetry party. Serena and I are happy to have you here with us!

Be sure to visit the Everett Public Library blog for more reviews and news of all things happening at the library.

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