The Best Poetry Books You Must Read: Updated 2020

book on desk
by CJ McDaniel // April 22  

Poetry is unique in that it’s more than just words on a page. It goes beyond the story or a script. It’s an entirely different type of species, a unique craft that contains both sound and rhythm. Poetry is more kin to music, the words woven in such a way that it enchants the reader. Some of the most well known authors and writers are skilled at poetry, from Edgar Allan Poe to William Shakespeare and many others. Immerse yourself into the best poetry books and many more!

What Did These Poetry Books Do To Qualify For This List

Any time you are ranking the best of something the results are usually somewhat subjective but we have did our best to come up with a list the readers of the poetry genre will truly like. To come up with this list we took into account:

  • quantity and quality of user reviews
  • sales data
  • public perception
  • opinions of readers of this genres
  • commercial success
  • and of course personal opinion

Take a look at the best Poetry Books you can read right now:

Best Poetry Books

Here are the best poetry books by the experts:

1) Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver by Mary Oliver

  • Best Poetry BooksBook Summary: Throughout her celebrated career, Mary Oliver has touched countless readers with her brilliantly crafted verse, expounding on her love for the physical world and the powerful bonds between all living things. Identified as “far and away, this country’s best selling poet” by Dwight Garner, she now returns with a stunning and definitive collection of her writing from the last fifty years. Definitely one of the best poetry books ever created.
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7) Darling;: A poetry book for those who need to hear what they cannot say. by Cameon J Wade

  • Best Poetry BooksBook Summary: If you have not heard…My SECOND BOOK is now available! I am so excited to hear your feedback. The feedback from my first book has been overwhelming and humbling. Thank you to everyone who has already purchased my book. I hope “A Spineful of Medicine” is just the medicine you need to start to feel contentment and see joy. Poetry book full of words broken souls need to hear. Series to help understand what is happening around you and inside your head.
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8) The Best Poems of the English Language: From Chaucer Through Robert Frost

  • Best Poetry BooksBook Summary: This comprehensive anthology attempts to give the common reader possession of six centuries of great British and American poetry. The book features a large introductory essay by Harold Bloom called “The Art of Reading Poetry,” which presents his critical reflections of more than half a century devoted to the reading, teaching, and writing about the literary achievement he loves most. In the case of all major poets in the language, this volume offers either the entire range of what is most valuable in their work, or vital selections that illuminate each figure′s contribution. There are also headnotes by Harold Bloom to every poet in the volume as well as to the most important individual poems. Much more than any other anthology ever gathered, this book provides readers who desire the pleasures of a sublime art with very nearly everything they need in a single volume. It also is regarded as his final meditation upon all those who have formed his mind.
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9) Ice Cream And Suicide by Jack Ray

  • Best Poetry BooksBook Summary: A collection of poetry focusing on the hardships that come with shattered relationships, the feelings that bloom in love lost, and the experiences of finding closure. Ice Cream And Suicide is a personal look at the events that have scarred and inspired the author to begin poetry. The woman who Ray writes about has not one name, but many. The collection truly captures the dark side of love and is proof that words can kill just as bullets or hand grenades.
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10) Nocturnal by Wilder Poetry

  • Best Poetry BooksBook Summary: Nocturnal is a collection of words and imagery inspired by darkened skies and sleepless nights. it is a journey of healing and self-discovery whether love stays or leaves. it is dreaming with your eyes wide open while the rest of the world is hiding.
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Best Poetry Movies

If you enjoyed the best poetry books, why stop there? Take a look at our list of best poetry movies and witness these marvelous films from the big screen.

1)Poetry in America


Directed by: Elisa New

Movie Summary: Poetry in America gathers distinguished interpreters from all walks of life to explore and debate 12 unforgettable American poems. Athletes and poets, politicians and musicians, architects, scientists, actors, entrepreneurs, and citizens of all ages join host and Harvard professor Elisa New to experience and share the power of poetry in this visually dazzling and archivally rich series.

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2)Poetry (English Subtitled)


Starring: Yun Jung-Hee and Lee David
Directed by: Lee Chang-Dong

Movie Summary: Winner of the Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival, Poetry is an “achingly exquisite portrait” (Philadelphia Inquirer) of a woman’s brave fight against Alzheimer¹s, and against her guilt over a relative’s brutal crime. This highly acclaimed Korean drama (100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) showcases a performance of “surpassing delicacy” (Los Angeles Times) by Yun Jung-hee, who was voted as her country’s greatest actress in a public poll.

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We Are Poets


3)Directed by: Daniel Lucchesi and Alex Ramseyer-Bache

Movie Summary: The poignant tale of six remarkable British teenagers competing in a prestigious poetry competition in Washington D.C. From inner city Leeds to the American capital, this documentary charts the personal journeys of poets, hungry for change and full of fervour. Much more than just a hop across the pond; a resurrection of an ancient art form interwoven with inspiring snapshots of British youth.

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4)The United States of Poetry


Starring: Johnny Depp , Tracie Morris , Leonard Cohen and Quincy Jones
Directed by: Mark Pellington

Movie Summary: With over 80 poems to reveal this nation as never before, The United States of Poetry captures the passion, intelligence, and variety of the New Poetry that is sweeping the country. Three years in the making, including a 10-week, 13,000-mile road trip to film the poets on their own turf, this series is for everyone with a love for the power of the word.

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5)Speak to Me in Poetry


Starring: Greg Barnett , Lauren Archer , Gary Clemmer , et al.
Directed by: Matthew Wilson

Movie Summary: Ben likes Kelsie but can never find the right words to tell her. So one day, at a wishing well, he wishes he could speak like a poet. The next day he gets his wish. But now everything he says rhymes. He can’t stop rhyming! Kelsie rejects him. His boss fires him. No one understands why he would talk like that. Now he must go on a journey to find his true voice and break the curse.

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Best Poetry Audio Books

Now that you’ve seen our list of the best poetry books and movies, I’m sure you’ll be interested in trying out more of the best poetry books in audio!

1)Love Her Wild: Poems by Atticus Poetry and Simon & Schuster Audio

51YX-XKffEL._SX342_Book Summary: Love Her Wild is a collection of new and beloved poems from Atticus, who has captured the hearts and minds of well over 300k followers on his Instagram account, @atticuspoetry, including superstars like Karlie Kloss and Shay Mitchell. With honesty, poignancy, and romantic flare, Love Her Wild captures what is both raw and relatable about the smallest and the grandest moments in life: the first glimpse of a new love, a late-night drive singing along to a car radio, the irrepressible exuberance of the female spirit, the simple pleasure of a good whiskey. Atticus distills the most exhilarating highs and the heartbreaking lows of life and love into a few short lines, ensuring that his words will become etched in your mind – and will awaken your sense of adventure. 

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2)The Poets’ Corner: The One-and-Only Poetry Book for the Whole Family by John Lithgow, Morgan Freeman, et al.


Book Summary: John Lithgow has compiled an outstanding collection of memorable poems and has gathered his famous friends to read them. The wide variety of carefully selected poetry in this audiobook provides the perfect introduction to reel in those who are new to poetry, and for poetry lovers to experience beloved verses in a fresh, vivid way. Lithgow offers insightful and sometimes poignant commentary to accompany each poem. His essential criterion is that “each poem’s light shines more brightly when read aloud”.

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3)Crime and Poetry: Magical Bookshop Mystery Series, Book 1 by Amanda Flower, Rachel Dulude, et al.


Book Summary: Rushing home to sit by her ailing grandmother’s bedside, Violet Waverly is shocked to find Grandma Daisy the picture of perfect health. Violet doesn’t need to read between the lines: Her grandma wants Violet back home and working in her magical store, Charming Books. It’s where the perfect book tends to fly off the shelf and pick you…. Violet has every intention to hightail it back to Chicago, but then a dead man is discovered clutching a volume of Emily Dickinson’s poems from Grandma Daisy’s shop. The victim is Benedict Raisin, who recently put Grandma Daisy in his will, making her a prime suspect. Now, with the help of a tuxedo cat named Emerson, Violet will have to find a killer to keep Grandma from getting booked for good.

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4)The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Frost, Susan Anspach, et al.


Book Summary: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Drawing upon everyday incidents, common situations, and rural imagery, Robert Frost fashioned poetry of great lyrical beauty and potent symbolism. His language is simple, clear, and colloquial, yet dense with meaning and wider significance. This brilliant collection features some of Frost’s greatest works, including “The Road Not Taken”, “Into My Own”, “Asking for Roses”, “Mending Wall”, “The Death of the Hired Man”, “In the Home Stretch”, “Meeting and Passing”, and more. The words of this quintessential American poet come to life in the performances by Alfre Woodard, Arte Johnson, Elliott Gould, Joel Grey, Melissa Manchester, and others.

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5)A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogersby Fred Rogers and Luke Flowers


Book Summary: From funny to sweet, silly to sincere, the lyrics of Mister Rogers explore such universal topics as feelings, new siblings, everyday life, imagination, and more. Through these songs—as well as endearing puppets and honest conversations—Mister Rogers instilled in his young viewers the values of kindness, self-awareness, and self-esteem. But most of all, he taught children that they are loved, just as they are. Perfect for bedtime, sing-along, or quiet time alone, this beautiful book of meaningful poetry is for every child—including the child inside of every one of us.

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What do you think about our list of best poetry books? If you have another genre that you prefer to read we have probably compiled a list of our favorites for that genre too. So if you are looking for something other than the best poetry books you can find other genres here.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!