book and sunglasses at the beach

4 Flowing Poetry Collections to Make Your Next Beach Read

Oh, the beach read. The popular literary concept, an emerging genre in itself, has inspired articles in The New Yorker, Book Riot, and Electric Literature. It’s taken over full stands and tables at bookstores. It’s proven to be one of the publishing industry’s most lucrative, enduring staples, and it’s easy to see why. 


While the exact details of what makes the perfect beach read continue to inspire debate, some general guidelines apply: Beach reads are typically set in the summer, often by the water. They offer readers a sense of escapism and wanderlust. And, put simply, they’re captivating, can’t-put-it-down page-turners. When people think of beach reads, they usually think of fiction releases, but the pleasure and imagery of the beach read defy categorization. These four poetry collections deserve a spot on your towel or under your seaside umbrella. 


1. Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumatathil 


Aimee Nezhukumatathil, a Guggenheim fellow and New York Times bestselling author, often uses water and nature landscapes to explore universal topics like love, loss, and culture. Oceanic follows this defining theme, evoking jellyfish, sea stars, and underwater volcanoes to represent the beauty of relationships and connection. The collection serves as a reminder that humans are part of a lush and interwoven natural world, making it the perfect lens through which to appreciate salt, sand, and waves. 


2. Where Water Meets the Rock by Lindsey Martin-Bowen 


Filled with rich seaside imagery, Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s Where Water Meets the Rock takes its readers on a momentous and visceral journey. Told in three sections—“Erosion,” “Frenzies,” and “On the Shore”—the collection chronicles healing and gaining a new perspective on life. Greek mythology fans will gravitate toward the book’s sprawling and engrossing narrative, which considers the stories of Pasiphaë, Psyche, and Antigone. In doing so, Where Water Meets the Rock reminds readers of what every beach read needs: complex and fascinatingly flawed characters. 


3. Sea of Strangers by Lang Leav


“In a sea of strangers, / You’ve longed to know me,” writes Lang Leav in the titular poem from this collection. “Your life spent sailing / to my shores.” Every hopeless romantic loves a beach read, and Leav’s collections perfectly encapsulate this dreamy and amorous vibe. From overcoming heartbreak and finding self-love to enjoying the exciting, rising tide of a new relationship, reading Sea Of Strangers is an all-the-feels approach to feeling every stage of love in one day. 


4. A Poem for Every Summer Day, edited by Allie Esiri


Editor and anthologist Allie Esiri is known for bringing together like-minded poems to fit any mood, setting, or situation. A follow-up to other fan favorites like A Poem for Every Day of the Year and Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year, this hot and radiant installment includes wide-ranging, diverse voices like Lord Byron, Langston Hughes, and Kate Tempest. This melding of classic poets and modern voices shows how the summer season has inspired generations of writers.


Soak up the sun and some stunning, summer poetry! For more inspiration, check out Read Poetry’s guide on how to incorporate poetry into your vacation.