4 Poetry Collections to Read In Honor of Heartstopper Season 2
Heartstopper, the YA show based on Alice Oseman’s graphic novels of the same name, recently released its much-anticipated second season. With more than 6 million total streams, the show quickly landed on Netflix’s list of the most trending titles. Fans attribute their love for the show, which chronicles the romance between British high school students Charlie and Nick, to its unabashed sweetness. After all, nearly every review of the show’s second season features the phrase “queer joy” in its headline.
While depictions of LGBTQ+ characters can often lead with sadness and darkness, Heartstopper challenges this narrative by showcasing supportive queer friendships and chosen family. Though Nick, Charlie, and their friend group face challenges with mental health, bullying, and their families, viewers can always expect the show to balance these realistic problems with positive coming-of-age experiences, like the teens dancing at prom and exploring Paris on their senior trip. If you can’t get enough of Heartstopper, these four poetry collections should be next on your list.
From the cute conversations between Charlie and Nick unfolding via Instagram DM to cinematic shots of rugby practice, both digital culture and its high school setting are key qualities of Heartstopper. In Say It Hurts, queer poet Lisa Summe similarly harkens back to adolescence, revisiting sleepovers and family dinner tables. Social media and Internet culture also play a pivotal role, with poems spanning dating apps, Pinterest boards, and FaceTime calls.
2. Every Good Boy Does Fine by Calvin Arsenia
Poet and musician Calvin Arsenia chronicles his sexual awakening, search for community, and journey toward self-acceptance in his debut collection, Every Good Boy Does Fine. Like Charlie and Nick, the younger self in Arsenia’s poems must navigate family reactions to his queerness and the way that these relationships shift. With its second season showing one character get into art school, and boasting a soundtrack that features Lucy Dacus, Tegan and Sara, and Maggie Rogers, Heartstopper is a powerful portrayal of how art and creative expression can be a source of hope. Every Good Boy Does Fine also conveys this message, with the speaker’s love for classical music and composition guiding him.
3. Poems to See by: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters
The show Heartstopper takes its inspiration from the four-book graphic novel series by Alice Oseman, who also serves as one of the show’s producers. In fact, the Netflix adaptation still incorporates some of this artfulness and whimsy, like in shots where animated hearts bubble above Charlie and Nick’s heads as they kiss. In Poems to See by: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry, Julian Peters pairs similar illustrations with poems by Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, and other beloved writers, showing how hybrid forms and connection between art and literature can enhance poetry.
4. My Boyfriend Apocalypse by Antmen Pimentel Mendoza
Though Heartstopper doesn’t linger in darkness, it’s hard to ignore the societal problems its characters are facing—homophobia, climate change, racial injustice, and more—as they come of age in such a turbulent era. However, the show seems to indicate that the characters find joy not despite these predicaments, but as a response to them, with queer chosen family and the celebration and refuge it brings becoming a form of resistance. My Boyfriend Apocalypse makes the same radical argument, as Antmen Pimentel Mendoza calls on the reader to dance and “fold… into more bravery” in the midst of the news cycle and everyday crisis.
Love graphic novels like Heartstopper? Check out our roundup of poetry and graphic novel pairings.