It’s National Poetry Month, but you probably already know that. Your English teacher has probably made you study some long dead poet’s use of foreshadowing or alliteration or whatever. You know good ol’ Billy Shakespeare with his doths and thys, maybe you’ve studied John Donne with his old timey spelling or Sylvia Plath’s intense and harrowing poems, or drawn a beard on Carol Ann Duffy in your GCSE anthology and called her ‘Carol Ann Fluffy’ (just us?).
But news: poetry doesn’t have to be all rhyming couplets and iambic pentameters. It can be fun and free flowing. It can be political or metaphorical or just for kicks. And you don’t always have to study it. Sometimes, amazingly, you can just enjoy it.
So here are six of our fave modern poets who are breaking down stereotypes. And not a single dead white guy in sight.
Since Hollie won the UK Slam Poetry Competition in 2009, she’s had YouTube videos of her spoken word poems go viral. Like, millions of views in a few days sort of viral. She’s also the first ever poet to record an album at Abbey Road Studios. Hollie tends to write about everyday occurrences that bother or frustrate her, in a beautiful and lyrical way. Basically, she’s amazing. Buy her book, Papers, here.
The name might sound familiar to you, since one of her poems was recently performed by this up and coming indy musician… I don’t know, maybe you’ve heard of her? Beyoncé. That’s right. Bey-freaking-oncé. Author of the gorgeous poems sampled throughout Lemonade, Somali-British poet Warsan Shire comes with Queen Bey’s stamp of approval – so you know she’s good. Buy her book, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, here.
Kate Tempest is one of the most acclaimed poets in the country today, often mixing poetry, music and rap to make political statements. Her performances have taken her on tours to Australia and all over Europe, and she’s been on the bill at festivals like Latitude and Glastonbury. Plus in 2013 she was the youngest ever recipient of the Ted Hughes Award. So there’s that… Buy her book, Let Them Eat Chaos, here.
Lang Leav writes poems and short stories and they’re all so elegant and beautiful and timeless – essentially the Chanel of poetry. She is HUGE on Tumblr (a great place to find poets) and has published two beautiful books. Buy her book, The Universe of Us, here.
Laura Dockrill may be best known for being BFFs with Adele and Kate Nash, but she’s wildly talented in her own right. Along with writing poems and short stories she is also an illustrator and has illustrated all of her own books too, NBD. Buy her book, Mistakes in the Background, here.
"this book is dedicated to risk takers , those who follow their instincts ( that's brave ) and to anybody who has done what they were told they couldn't do . congratulations. " #laura #dockrill #lauradockrill #mistakesinthebackground #mistakes #mistake #in #the #background #books #handwriting #bookstagram #candle #bookstagramfeatures #currentlyreading #book
One of our lovely betty writers (read her articles here), Bridget also just happens to be an incredible poet. She writes beautifully about race and class and what it means to be a woman today and her spoken word stuff is SO. FREAKING. GOOD. Buy her book, Titanic, here.
Image: Getty / Katie Edmunds