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.

Hollie McNish

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.

Happy National Poetry Day. Here's a poem about how brilliant my shoulders are. Left one in particular xxx

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Warsan Shire

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.

#warsanshire #wordstoliveby 📝 #forwomen 🙌🏾 for the #goddess and #sparkle and #firewithin 🙏🏽✨🔥

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Kate Tempest

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

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

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.

Bridget Minamore

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.   


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When people say Australia, you probably think of beaches and bikinis and the Hemsworth brothers. You might even think of deadly snakes and spiders the size of your fist. But this week, in Reasons Why We Still Need Feminism, news has emerged from south of the equator that’s scary for a whole other reason.

Melbourne high school Kambrya College has been under fire, for ‘slut-shaming’ its students.

The news follows on from last week’s horrifying story that female students in 70 Australian schools have been targeted for a website set up by men and teenage boys to swap sexual images of schoolgirls. Kambrya College, one of the schools targeted, responded by calling all of their female students into an assembly and telling them to check the length of their skirts.

But Year 9 student Faith Sobotker hit back at the message the school was sending: that this whole situation was somehow the girls’ fault.

Holding up a crumpled piece of paper that read, “The length of my skirt or dress does not matter,” Faith then delivers a beautifully eloquent speech that has since gone viral.

“My self respect is doing what makes me happy,” she says. “You can’t tell me what ladylike is because we don’t live in the 50s any more. I am looking for equality.”

A chorus of “preach” and “yes!” can be heard in the background from her peers.

Following the backlash, one of the students’ mothers posted an open message on Facebook to condemn the school’s attitude:

“At the assembly my daughter and her friends said they were told they had to check the length of their skirts, and that anything that doesn’t touch their knees or below by Monday morning would be deemed inappropriate. They were informed that this was to ‘protect their integrity’. They were also told not to post photos of themselves online, and to refuse any request from a boyfriend for a ‘sexy selfie’, as their boyfriends will only be around for a couple of days; maximum a year; but definitely not in ten years’ time. They were told the boys are distracted by their legs, and that boys don’t respect girls who wear short skirts.”

Obviously, the problem is not with girls and the length of their skirts, it’s with the boys (and grown-ass men) who chose to share these images online. This is not the fault of young girls and women who trusted their privacy would be respected, only to have it thrown back in their faces. The real issue here isn’t the length of anyone’s skirts, or that girls are sending these photos in the first place – it’s about boys and their lack of respect. The way they talked about their peers as if they were animals to be ‘tracked’ and ‘hunted,’ rather than the real flesh and blood humans who sat next next to them in History class or let them copy their Maths homework.

Kudos to Faith, for spreading the message that slut-shaming and victim-blaming is never ok.

You’re our Shero.

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Image: Getty