April is National Poetry Month. We kicked off the month by asking poets to share one poem that changed their life. Now we want to turn the focus to book clubs. If your book club has never experimented with reading a poetry collection or verse novel in the past, now is the perfect time to start. These books make for fast reads and they cover an incredible range of topics that are sure to get your club talking. Whether you’re bringing these titles to your virtual book club meeting or saving it for when your club comes back from a social distancing hiatus, these are certain to provoke great discussions.
Citizen by Claudia Rankine
Citizen is a staff favorite at NetGalley. This 2014 collection takes a critical look at racism in modern America. Claudia Rankine explores microaggressions that Black people face every day in this country, the hatred spewed towards Black icons such as tennis legend Serena Williams, and the murders of Black men, women, and children. It’s a powerful and haunting collection that your book club won’t forget.
When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz
Book clubs that gravitate towards family stories won’t want to miss Natalie Diaz’s award-winning poetry collection. This book transports readers to the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation and explores Diaz’s relationship with her brother, who is struggling with an addiction to methamphetamine. These poems take a close look at the bond between family members, while also touching on race, culture, poverty, and more.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
National Poetry Slam Champion Elizabeth Acevedo stepped onto the YA scene in 2018 with her debut novel The Poet X, which went on to win the National Book Award. This verse novel introduces readers to Xiomara Batista, a Harlem teen who struggles to verbalize her emotions outside of the pages of her journal. When she’s invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she decides to take a chance on herself and her words. The Poet X touches on identity, body shaming, religion, feminism, and family bonds in a way that will leave your book club with endless options for discussion.
Jane: A Murder by Maggie Nelson
This true crime tale is told through a mix of poetry, prose, and documents such as newspapers and diary entries. It tells the story of author Maggie Nelson’s late aunt Jane, whose murder was linked to the murders of six other women in Michigan between 1967 and 1969. In Jane, Nelson looks back on her aunt’s life, while also sharing how her death impacted Nelson’s family.