HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH

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“Christmas Book Flood”: Adopt the Beloved Icelandic Tradition with 8 Intimate Poetry Picks

Jolabokaflod might not be a word we hear very often, but its meaning is one we can all support. Translated as “Christmas book flood,” the cozy Icelandic ritual involves gifting books to family and friends on Christmas Eve so that they can spend the night leisurely reading. 

 

Dating back to World War II, the rich literary tradition seems to have bookish benefits all year long. Iceland’s love of reading surges above other countries—93% of citizens read a book each year, and 1 in 10 residents will publish one. Moreover, books boost our health, as reading has been shown to reduce stress and lower heart rate. This season, take a page from Iceland and give the peace, relaxation, and warmth that reading brings. Fill your stockings with these eight Read Poetry suggestions that stand out as some of 2020’s best releases.

 

Obit by Victoria Chang

2020 has been a year tinged by grief. Chang’s Obit, released in April and longlisted for the National Book Award in Poetry, fully embraces this heartache and reassures readers that it’s okay to feel deeply. For those dealing with emotional fallout, Obit offers to walk alongside them and provide authentic comfort through this journey.

 

Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry: Poems & Artifacts by Nikky Finney

A celebration of Black life and a courageous, unique foray into “docu-poetry,” Finney’s fifth collection weaves together what the nation has come to love about this award-winning voice. Through her always relevant and fierce language, Finney’s collection shows the poet convening with her ancestors and reclaiming joy in the midst of struggle.

 

Home Body by Rupi Kaur

For those on your list who loved the bestselling Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers, Home Body arrives as a natural follow-up. In Kaur’s third collection, the poet invites readers to slip into her words like a pair of fuzzy socks, making it a perfect read for snuggling by the fireplace.

 

In the Lateness of the World by Carolyn Forché

Give the book dubbed an “undisputed literary event” by NPR. Forché’s sixth collection finds the former Academy of American Poets fellow grappling with the past, present, and future, taking readers on an eerie, enlightening ride through all three destinations. For those unafraid to reflect and consider the big ideas this season, In the Lateness of the World is a challenging evocation. 

 

The Tradition by Jericho Brown

The Tradition will be at the top of many book lists this year, due to its historical Pulitzer Prize win. Readers will find both light and darkness in Brown’s work, which confronts the most pressing issues of our time with a bold, singular musicality. From the duplex to the blues, explore Brown’s genius work with poetic form.

 

Dearly: New Poems by Margaret Atwood

Dearly is Atwood’s first book of poetry in over a decade, and well worth the wait for the author’s many fans. Just like her well-known works, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments, Atwood’s poetry sparkles with suspense and strangeness but favors introspection over plot. For fans of Atwood’s fiction, Dearly could present an accessible and exciting introduction to a different genre.

 

Talk to Me Always by Alexi Lubomirski

For those who prefer visual intrigue alongside their poetry, Lubomirski’s creative, multimedia feat packs the best of both worlds. A romantic conversation between genres, Talk to Me Always is unlike any other release this year. For readers whose favorite part of poetry is imagery, the collection promises to delight.

 

The Nightfields by Joanna Klink

A best poetry pick from The Washington Post, Klink’s wide-spanning fifth collection is an ode to what the poet does best—advocating for connection in the face of fear. In a year of isolation, the book is a more crucial gift than ever, and a riveting devotion to the things worth saving. 

 

Stay cozy with poetry this season!