Poetry Collections Getting Rave Reviews on NetGalley

A collage of the covers included in this article

Happy National Poetry Month, NetGalley members! Whether you read poetry voraciously or are looking to start your poetry reading journey, this is a perfect month to explore all this gorgeous art form has to offer. We’d recommend starting by visiting Poets.org to sign up for Poem-a-Day to get a free poem in your inbox each morning. This National Poetry Month, Poem-a-Day is curated by U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón

But we know bookworms won’t want to stop there, so here are 10 poetry collections publishing in 2023 that NetGalley members are raving about! You’ll want to make room on your TBR for these.

Plantains and Our Becoming by Melania Luisa Marte

Poet and musician Melania Luisa Marte’s debut poetry collection looks at the Black diasporic experience, showing both the continued impacts of colonialism as well as the joy found in connecting with your heritage. Bookseller Elizabeth C. praised the poems for being, “visceral, poignant, devastating, and unconventional. The true aim of poetry is to make you feel and this collection did not disappoint. This is an important collection about belonging, identity, familial bonds, and resistance through existence, and I loved it. I tried to savor each poem slowly, but I found myself devouring this book in only a few settings. Each poem packs a punch and gave me insight into one woman’s relationship with her identity.”

Someone Somewhere Maybe by Sophie Diener

After following her online, BookTokers will be particularly excited for Sophie Diener’s debut collection about growing up, falling in love, experiencing loss, and finding who you are. “I was blown away,” writes reviewer Kristin M. “This collection of poems is so incisive and honest, and the way Diener speaks to and about her younger self is a stunning example of how we should all be kind to ourselves… I may be approaching 40 and a few decades away from some of these experiences, but the poems in Someone Somewhere Maybe took me right back to my youth. I’ll be buying a hard copy so I can revisit these when I need a reminder that we will all be okay.”

What We Lost in the Swamp by Grant Chemidlin

Grant Chemidlin plumbs the depths of self-discovery in this collection through the lens of the color green and all of its metaphorical and physical manifestations. “This collection of poetry was uniquely beautiful, full of remarkable lines that make you pause and think,” says librarian Aaron M. “In particular, ‘To the Popular Kids Who Called Me Gay,’ ‘The Plea,’ and ‘The Stoner Safari,’ were utterly heartbreaking and completely compelling. I would be very interested to read anything else this author creates.”

Forever Is Now by Mariama J. Lockington

One of our recommended YA books 0f 2023, Mariama J. Lockington’s book follows a bisexual Black teenager as she grapples with mental health and finds her place as an activist. In a five-star review, librarian Jennifer M. praised the book’s relevant connections to important modern topics: “This powerful novel-in-verse brings together so many themes that have dominated our lives over the past few years: the need for better mental health care during the pandemic and other social crises, the ongoing threat to Black lives and the rage and frustration behind the push for justice, the power of social media to connect us, and the joy of finding one’s own voice.”

Above Ground by Clint Smith

Clint Smith, the ​​National Book Critics Circle award-winning author of How the Word Is Passed, returns this year with a collection about fatherhood. Media & journalists on NetGalley are sharing their praise: “This wonderful anthology of poetry and prose is a dynamic, brilliant window into the soul… indulging in the highs and lows the world never ceases to offer,” says Olivia C. The sentiment is echoed by Jade K., who writes, “Smith is a reverent and revolutionary voice—he always has been. But Above Ground is his most moving work yet. This collection was so unbelievably captivating, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have read and meditated on this collection.”

Leaning Toward Light edited by Tess Taylor

With spring in the air and flowers blooming, it’s a perfect time to dive into this collection of nature poetry edited by Tess Taylor. Educator Maryam S. couldn’t get enough! “I’ve never finished a book faster! I’m so happy I stumbled upon this wonderful collection of poetry that sings to nature, plants, and gardening. Tess Taylor has succeeded in providing the reader with sensory details through the choice of poetry selected with care for each section. I especially loved the food recipes before each section of poetry. If you love nature, gardening, and poetry that celebrates these earthly elements, this book is definitely a must-read!”

Grey Matters by Kristen Costello

Kristen Costello’s debut poetry collection focuses on mental health and the non-linear nature of healing. “Reading and reflecting on this collection of poems was an incredible experience,” bookseller Rosie M. says in a glowing review. “Each poem was insightful and thought-provoking and I especially appreciated the courage it took to be as vulnerable as Kristen Costello was with her writing. So many of the poems in this collection made me [feel] seen—which in turn also helped me feel a little less alone.”

God Themselves written and narrated by Jae Nichelle

Hearing poetry read by the poet who wrote it can be an incredible experience, which is why this audiobook narrated by author Jae Nichelle is so loved by NetGalley members. “Listening to this in Nichelle’s voice felt like a more intentional way of absorbing the poetry because of the tone, rhythm, and cadence of the author’s [voice],” notes librarian Magaly C. “Nichelle weaves religious symbolism, imagery, and traditions/rites into her poems in a way that transcends the traditional views of religion.”

Many Small Hungerings by William Bortz

In this follow-up to The Grief We Are Given, William Bort meditates on the intricacies of loss and memory. “I have read countless poetry collections,” writes reviewer Nicole M. “But it’s rare for them to make me feel the level of emotions this one did. Almost every single poem made me speechless and hit me exactly in the most sensitive parts of my heart… It forced me to face feelings hidden in the depths of my soul, it gave me new perspectives on a lot of human experiences, and it overall just touched me so hard that I feel vulnerable and raw but I’m happy I read it. I absolutely recommend it if you’d like to read a collection of poetry that might hit sore spots of your heart while still holding it gently and giving you hope and comfort in the process.”

Bread and Circus by Airea D. Matthews

Yale Young Poets Award Winner and Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate Airea D. Matthews explores economics and class in this collection written to challenge 18th-century Scottish economist Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. Reviewer Jax R. called Bread and Circus a “beautiful book… Matthews ingeniously inserts faded pages of Smith’s and Marxist Guy Debord’s texts whereon she bolds certain words or letters to create a statement. The poetry is weighty [and] the artistic merit of this work is undeniable.”

What’s a poetry collection you recommend?

Please note that some reviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Stuff Your Shelves

Kelly Gallucci

Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of We Are Bookish, where she oversees the editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors and NetGalley members. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and watching way too many baking shows.

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