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Culture

10 Poetry Books Out this Year by WOC

April is National Poetry Month and we are super-psyched to honor some incredible women of color who are bringing their art form to the masses with brand-new poetry books coming out in 2021. Poetry is an art form that many of us don’t turn to often enough, but the raw emotions, truth, and beauty that are often expressed in poetry can be endlessly impactful. Just think of poet Amanda Gorman‘s performance of her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the 2021 presidential inauguration and how she seemed in that instant to unite so many people with her powerful worlds. Or the tear-jerking reaction spoken word poets like Dominicana Elizabeth Acevedo evoke when they get on stage and tell us their stories in prose.

Whether you’re a long-time poetry lover or new to the genre, there’s no better time than the present to lose yourself in a book of poems than right this minute. We suggest starting with one of these 10 new poetry books written by women of color.

I Must Belong Somewhere: Poetry and Prose by Dawn Lanuza

A native of the Philippines, Dawn Lanuza is an International best-selling author who after a break, has returned with a beautiful book of poetry titled, I Must Belong Somewhere, in which she reconciles her modern perspective with long-held beliefs on issues like death, body image, sexism, mental health and more. Dawn wrote the book while traveling and essentially being on sabbatical, and in it she also grapples with her own loneliness and feelings of displacement.

The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us From the Void by Jackie Wang

Poet Jackie Wang’s first book, The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us From the Void is essentially a poetic retelling of her dreams in which she showcases how our real-life experiences can manifest in our dreams. Jackie and her dreams touch on a wide variety of topics from uncomfortable social situations to traumatic experiences, and nearly everything else the average human goes through in a lifetime.

I Am the Rage: A Black Poetry Collection by Martina McGowan

Martina McGowan’s I Am the Rage provides the truthful words many of us have been longing for when it comes to race and what it means to be Black in America. The author uses free verse poetry to express the vast range of emotions she experienced throughout 2020 as she grappled with the wake of the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans

Spoken word poet Jasmine Mans’ collection Black Girl, Call Home was called one of the most anticipated books of 2021 by Oprah herself. The book of poetry touches on Jasmine’s personal experience of Black girlhood and in it, she also explores racial themes, feminism, and her queer identity.

Waterbaby by Nikki Wallschlaeger

The third book by author Nikki Wallschlaeger, Waterbaby, is distinctly her own and an innovative take on telling one’s story through the element of water. Nikki’s poetry speaks on everything from grief to motherhood in America, all in her signature rhythmic, almost music style.

The Renunciations: Poems by Donika Kelly

Set to release in May, writer Donika Kelly’s The Renunciations: Poems, is a profound collection that sees the author return to her memories of childhood trauma, abuse, and a broken marriage. She faces them, heals from them, and overcomes the impact those events had on her life. Though at times difficult and gut-wrenching, Donika’s work is said to bring joy in the end.

It Was Never Going to Be Okay by Jaye Simpson

Written by poet Jaye Simpson, It Was Never Going to Be Okay, is a book of poetry written from the distinct perspective of an Indigenous Trans woman. It uniquely addresses themes related to Jaye’s point of view and offers an authentic insight into the urban Indigenous diaspora. Jaye processes their own trauma related to queerness and sexual understanding along with the implications of navigating those things as an Indigenous person.

When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez

Already touted by acclaimed author Jacqueline Woodson, Elisabet Velasquez’s upcoming verse novel, When We Make It, tells the story of a first-generation eighth-grader whose family from Puerto Rico. She’s learning to deal with the emotional and financial strains of her family’s life in Bushwick, Brooklyn while also figuring out how she will one day overcome them.

Dreaming of You by Melissa Lozada-Oliva

Poet Melissa Lozada-Oliva’s Dreaming of You is a verse novel that comes out in September and is a quirky story in which Tejano legend Selena Quintanilla is brought back to life during a seance. The book is a campy, kind of dark look at Latinidad, love, womanhood, loneliness, and obsession. Definitely a must-read not just for fans of poetry, but for Selena fans as well.

Untitled by Elizabeth Acevedo

Famed Afro-Dominican poet Elizabeth Acevedo who previously penned The Poet X, With the Fire on High and Clap When You Land, will reportedly release her fourth book later in 2021. It will likely be another novel, but it is still unclear whether it will be a verse novel of poetry like her award-winning debut book, or similar to her subsequent works. However, it is likely to fall into the Young Adult genre and we already know we’re going to love it.