Off the Shelf: Poetry at the Library

Many people I speak with think poetry is too highbrow or stuffy to enjoy reading, but that’s just not so! Poetry is diverse; there are so many different kinds. Nowadays, poets are adhering less and less to traditional forms, opting for freer verse. I’ve enjoyed many poets recently who have brought a fresh perspective to the way I read poetry.

Rupi Kahr is an Indian-born Canadian poet whose poems explore love, loss, and young womanhood (Kahr is 25). Her poems are emotionally raw and revealing. Within the past five years, she has written two collections of poetry: “Milk and Honey” and “The Sun and Her Flowers.” These collections have been well-received and widely-read. Her poems are written in a casual way – imagine how a young woman might speak with friends or write in her diary.

Another book of poetry that I enjoyed recently was “Garvey’s Choice” by Nikki Grimes. This novel-in-verse is the story of Garvey, a young African-American boy who struggles with his father’s desire for him to become an athlete. Garvey would rather learn about astronomy, read science fiction, or sing in his school’s choir. I loved following Garvey’s journey to express his true self through music.

One poet I am excited to read is Tracy K. Smith, who is currently serving as the 52nd Poet Laureate of the United States. She was nominated for a second term in 2018. Her poems have been praised as plain-spoken and emotionally powerful. She has written four books of poetry: “The Body’s Question,” “Duende,” “Life on Mars,” and “Wade in the Water.” Her memoir, “Ordinary Light,” was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in non-fiction. Smith also teaches creative writing at Princeton University.

If you would like to discover more poets, share poetry you love, or listen to poetry read aloud, consider joining the library’s Poetry Reading Group. The group meets on the second Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the library. Each member brings one or two poems to read aloud to the group. Members are also welcome to bring their own original poetry to share. The group’s next meeting is Monday, August 13 at 6:30 p.m. Call 507-359-8331 for more information.

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