4 Freeing Poetry Collections to Read If You Have an Avoidant Attachment Style
Attachment style theory originated in the 1950s and continues to remain relevant. Chances are you’ve heard of the attachment styles—which include secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, fearful-avoidant, and disorganized—and understand that they represent a person’s relationship patterns and responses. You can determine your attachment style by taking the quiz. It’s also important to note that your attachment style might change over time, or manifest differently with different people.
In particular, people with avoidant attachment may be fiercely independent and self-reliant, but this can also come with self-isolation, defensiveness, and unwillingness to seek help or support. If you relate to this attachment style, you might connect with, find comfort in, or learn from the poetry collections on this list.
In a recent Poetry Magazine podcast interview, Academy of American Poets Prize winner Taneum Bambrick spoke about often being hesitant to approach the topic of intimacy directly within her poetry. Instead, she tends to contend with it through a scholarly or analytical lens, or to arrive at the topics like love and heartbreak through metaphor—something those with avoidant attachment might relate to. Intimacies, Received is a study in this distancing and an exercise in overcoming it, with Publisher’s Weekly calling the poems “lyrical tightropes.”
Above all, Odes to Lithium articulates the difficulties of explaining what’s going on in one’s own mind to others. Though family members, partners, and friends play an integral role in the stand-out collection, at its heart the book is a dialogue between Erlichman and her own neurological functions and pathways. This restless, internal conversation with the self is a dynamic many people with avoidant attachment will be familiar with, along with the speaker’s journey to accept care and love.
No matter their attachment style, everyone can benefit from examining and resetting their perspective. This is the weighty and necessary task that The Shift, Melody Godfred’s second poetry collection, devotes itself to. Mirroring the independence of those with avoidant attachment, the collection revels in the daily rituals and moments of reflection found in solitude—but then goes a step further to showcase how this can trickle down into more fulfilling relationships with others.
An avoidant attachment style can be a response to an increasingly disconnected and distracted world. In Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency, Chen Chen writes honestly from this reality and speaks out about the social unrest and trauma that has contributed to it. Chen depicts disembodied conversations and the fragility of modern relationships, yet pushes back against this with renewed, persevering hope throughout the collection.
Reflecting on your attachment style doesn’t only help you add to your reading list, it can also serve as an intimate and fascinating writing prompt. Consider writing a poem about how it feels to have an avoidant attachment style and the effects this can have on relationships. How did you first recognize this pattern? What strategies and personal reminders do you turn to to help you manage this attachment style? Explore these introspective questions through verse and see where it leads.