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.   

@LilyPesch

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty / Katie Edmunds

Finding a foundation was always pretty stressful for me. Or rather, finding the right foundation was. It’s almost up there with the drama of trying to buy jeans that actually fit, and a bikini that doesn’t result a changing room meltdown.

When I first started wearing make-up in my early teens I’d march over to the cosmetics counters on my local high street, jacket jingling with the sound of saved pocket money (and extra change I’d found down the side of the sofa), only to find there were very few brands that catered to my dark skin tone.

Don’t get me wrong – turning up at school with a face covered in a dodgy shade of gloopy foundation is a right of passage that even the best of us go through. But we should at least have access to gloopy foundation that covers the beautifully diverse range of skin tones out there… right?

Thankfully though, over the years beauty brands have slowly but surely started to take steps to give us a more representative selection of products. Most recently L’Oreal have taken it one step further by bringing real diversity to mainstream advertising, with their new campaign for True Match foundation.

Featuring bloggers, YouTubers, tattooed models, burns survivor Katie Piper and the first man to star in a make up campaign, beauty blogger Gary Thompson, L’Oreal’s #YoursTruly True Match campaign uses a group of influential, relatable people of all shapes, sizes and complexions to showcase their new 23 shades.

The collection now caters for 98% of UK skin tones – and I have to admit, the campaign is a breath of fresh air amongst the all-too-familiar ads, which only seem to star impossibly poreless models of perhaps two or three varying complexions.

From 1.C through to 10.C, L’Oreal have used their 23 shades to tell the stories of 23 individuals who represent a diverse body of people who, y’know, exist in real, actual life.

Yep, it’s a brilliantly encouraging campaign… but before we all get too caught up in how exciting and authentic L’Oreal’s advert is, I think it’s important to remember that this level of inclusivity was a long time coming.

Like, a really long time.

Of course, slow progress is better than no progress, but I can’t say that I’m not a tad underwhelmed by how long it’s taken to for so many people not to be excluded from the mainstream beauty world that in actual fact, isn’t so mainstream.

So many of the people who feature in L’Oreal’s campaign explain how frustrating it was to feel like make-up wasn’t for them, or how much of a struggle it was to find products that truly fit their skin. And that’s just it – we all want to feel good when we’re wearing make up. And we should because (you guessed it), we’re all worth it.

So fair play to L’Oreal for making such a positive move in the right direction. But let’s hope more brands follow suit, so more of us can see ourselves in the beauty world.

@JazKopotsha

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: L’Oreal Paris