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8 Short Poetry Collections to Fit into Your Busy Schedule

Feeling overbooked and overworked? Between busy work schedules, back-to-back classes, and general life stuff, it can be hard to find the time to read—much less a lengthy undertaking like, say, Leaves of Grass. If you’ve got limited time and attention to spare, we’ve selected eight short poetry collections to squeeze into your busy schedule. 


Ariel by Sylvia Plath

You won’t need to carve out a month of close reading to fall in love with this literary masterpiece (unless you really want to). This intense and personal collection reveals the growing fissures in Sylvia Plath’s psyche. Brutal yet funny, fiery yet restrained, reading Ariel feels like watching a phoenix rise from ashes. 


Be Straight With Me by Emily Dalton

With captivating storytelling and concise poetic lines, you’re guaranteed to fly through this memoir-in-verse. Be Straight With Me tells the honest and emotional story of a nonconforming romance. Ideas of masculinity, femininity, love, and monogamy fall under the microscope in this whirlwind tale. 


Homie by Danez Smith

In just under 100 pages, bestselling poet Danez Smith gives readers an intimate look at friendship, loss, joy, and intimacy against the backdrop of violence, xenophobia, and disparity. Part diary, part elegy, and part war-cry, Homie is the perfect collection to read, share, and read again. 


Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry by John Murillo

This brief yet provoking collection takes a reflective look at institutional violence and racism. With precision and momentum, Murillo marries the metaphor with the personal—accessing universal truths that will stop you in your tracks. Strength, rage, danger, and anger fall under the control of the poet’s decisive and confident voice, encouraging readers to think and rethink the meaning of justice. 


Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Sweetness and healing drip from the pages of Kaur’s debut poetry collection. Her brief and poignant lines have resonated with readers across the globe. Divided into four chapters that each deal with a different pain, the book offers natural stopping points to those who might not have time to finish it in one sitting. 


Morning Haiku by Sonia Sanchez

The power and brevity of the Haiku are not lost on Sanchez. In fact, she makes award-winning use of the form in her 2018 collection Morning Haiku. Toying with innovative new forms, Sanchez celebrates the gifts of life and pays homage to revered African American figures. Her lyrical work is loaded with emotion and meaning, sure to stir your soul one poem at a time. 


Obit by Victoria Chang

Victoria Chang’s Obit made waves in 2020, landing on the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2020 list, Time Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of the Year, and NPR’s Best Books of 2020, as well as being longlisted for the National Book Award in Poetry, and earning a Frank Sanchez Book Award. Written in response to the death of her mother, Obit faces grief unflinchingly and creates a powerful testament for the living. 


Whale Day by Billy Collins

Whale Day is the latest collection by former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. Playful and whimsical, yet grounded and familiar, Collins celebrates the wonders of being alive (and merely mortal) in his signature style. Drawing on common everyday experiences, Collins’s Whale Day welcomes new readers and seasoned poets alike.