If you’re a teen looking to learn more about the art of reading or writing poetry, we’ve gathered a selection of poems, essays, recommended reading lists, must-have anthologies, interviews, and advice just for you.
"I loved writing. I loved writing, and I wrote stories and poems. But then when I moved to New York, I realized that I wasn’t comfortable making stuff up. I had had it with angels and demons who (if your faith was strong enough) you believed were in the room with you. I’d had enough of fiction. You know when you have something that you long to say to someone, and you could never say it to them, to their face? Then here’s a place where you could speak." —Sharon Olds
"And he said: 'If you want to be a poet you have to take it seriously; you have to work on it the way you would work on anything else, and you have to do it every day.' He said: 'You should write about seventy-five lines a day'—you know Pound was a great one for the laying down the law about how you did anything—and he said, 'and you don’t have anything to write seventy-five lines about a day.' He said: 'You don’t really have anything to write about at the age of eighteen. You think you do, but you don’t.' And he said: 'The way to do it is to learn a language and translate. That way you can practice, and you can find out what you can do with your language, with your language.'" —W. S. Merwin
"The book I return to is Li-Young Lee’s The City in Which I Love You. The unfamiliar leaps, the dream-soaked realities of a “wanderer’s heart,” the revisions of memory, the illuminations on the demolished crossings of nation and self to the upper trigrams of sensual becoming and the knife-sharp divinities of being; all this, all the whispered line-work—takes me back to Lee’s pages." —Juan Felipe Herrera
We asked a number of poets, including previous Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets, to list a few poetry books that they would recommend to others. The selections that came in include influential volumes, books returned to over and over, must-reads, and books frequently recommended to students or new poetry readers.
Edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick and introduced by Carolyn Forché, this anthology features one hundred poems by one hundred acclaimed younger poets from diverse backgrounds and points of view.
Edited by former United States poet laureate Robert Pinsky, Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters (W. W. Norton, 2013) comprises the poet’s favorite poems organized in four sections.
"I write because I would like to live forever. The fact of my future death offends me. Part of this derives from my sense of my own insignificance in the universe. My life and death are a barely momentary flicker. I would like to become more than that."
"No one expects a man to make a chair without first learning how, but there is a popular impression that the poet is born, not made, and that his verses burst from his overflowing heart of themselves. As a matter of fact, the poet must learn his trade in the same manner, and with the same painstaking care, as the cabinet-maker."