Leena Norms’ shelf of perfect poetry…

By leena norms

By leena norms

I always argue that poetry is a big top with hundreds of tiny genres underneath it - just because you might have read a couple of poets at school that weren’t for you, it would be mad to write them all off! The poetry that inspired Bargain Bin Rom-Com was a big mixture of the silly and the serious. I loved Lewis Caroll’s nonsense poetry growing up and A.A Milne’s When We Were Very Young - as I got older I fell in love with the grumpy verses of Philip Larkin and the reflective poems of Maya Angelou. You can probably spot the traces of both in my own work - so if your own poetry shelf is looking a little sparse, here are some delicious collections to get you going… 

Set Me On Fire: A Poem For Every Feeling

Ella Risbridger

£14.99 £14.24

The original title for this collection was 'poetry for people who hate poetry' and it's the perfect opener for the poetry-averse. Ella Risbridger picks her favourites, arranges them SO imaginatively and chats to you in the margins as you read.


Don Paterson

£10.99 £10.44

This collection crept up on me and became a suprise-favourite during lockdown. It's poetry inspired by a mid-life crisis and The Twilight Zone (which I have never seen and don't intend to). It's described as "an attempt to get at the truth by alternate means" and I found it totally mesmerising, a real wash of wonderful language and interesting reflections.

Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt

John Cooper Clarke

£8.99 £8.54

Poetry but make it Mancunian and wonderfully grumpy. Dubbed 'The godfather of British performance poetry' - if you read it, you might feel a lot of things but I promise you won't be bored.

Portable Paradise

Roger Robinson

£9.99 £9.49

The title poem in this collection is about keeping paradise in your pocket, and that's what it feels like when I throw this in my bag!

The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind and Soul

William Sieghart

£14.99 £14.24

If you know me, you've probably received this as a present at some point. It's a perfect apothecary of poetry to cure any mood - with explainers on the opposite page, perfect for a poetry newbie.

Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer

Dr Maya Angelou

£10.99 £10.44

Keep this by your bed, it's my emergency poetry for every night-sweat or day-panic.

Why God Is a Woman

Nin Andrews

£12.99 £12.34

Set on a magical island where men are the second sex - individual poems that have a clever through-thread, this is the perfect bridge if you're more used to reading novels.

Brand New Ancients

Kae Tempest

£9.99 £9.49

What if we're the gods of today? This story weaves ancient classical myths with the story of two modern families and it will break your wee little heart - won the Ted Hughes Prize for innovation, you'll see why.


Carol Ann Duffy DBE

£10.99 £10.44

The OG approachable poet, we have to pay our respects to the woman who showed us poetry studied at school doesn't have to be painful.

Collected Poems

Philip Larkin

£14.99 £14.24

I drifted from poetry as a teenager and this is the collection that brought me back. Context makes these poems so much cooler, so have Wiki up on your phone as you read.

Jabberwocky and Other Nonsense: Collected Poems

Lewis Carroll

£16.99 £16.14

Poems can just SOUND good, they don't have to make sense. That's my main takeaway here, and I'm glad I didn't forget that lesson amidst all the Grown Up Poetry I've read since.

Hope you find a new treasure in this list and don't forget to take a peak at my poetry collection, Bargain Bin Rom-Com  too - it's a tongue-in-cheek look at living on a planet that is filled with both doom and glitter - and I reckon you'll like it ;) 

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