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Well-Versed: Celebrate National Poetry Month with Audiobooks

April is National Poetry Month! Started in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Month celebrates the role of poets in our literary world, and champions the idea that poetry is for everyone. As you scroll through, and hopefully press play on these poetry collections and novels in verse, let them remind you of all the things that poetry can be, and that poetry is all around you. Activism, family, love, and life: they are all poetry.

Call Us What We Carry is the luminous poetry collection by #1 New York Times bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman. This beautiful audiobook features poems in many inventive styles and structures and shines a light on a moment of reckoning, revealing Gorman as a messenger from the past, and our voice for the future.

Author: Ocean Vuong
Read By: Ocean Vuong

In this deeply intimate second poetry collection, Ocean Vuong deals with the aftershocks of his mother’s death while being determined to survive beyond it. Time Is a Mother represents experimentation with language and form, illuminating how the themes we live in and question are truly inexhaustible.

In 1860, men, women and children from Benin and Nigeria were captured and brought to Alabama and parceled out to plantations long after the outlawing of enslaved labor. The survivors created a community for themselves they called African Town. Told in 14 distinct voices, this affecting historical novel-in-verse recreates a pivotal moment in history, the impacts of which we still feel today.

Author: Warsan Shire
Read By: Warsan Shire

In her long-awaited collection, Warsan Shire introduces us to a young girl making her own way toward womanhood. Drawing from her own life, as well as pop culture and news headlines, Shire finds details in the experiences of refugees and immigrants, mothers and daughters, Black women, and teenage girls. Bless the Daughter Raised by the Voice in Her Head is a celebration of resilience and survival.

Author: Yanyi
Read By: Yanyi

The poems in Yanyi’s latest book suggest that we enter and exit our old selves like homes: we look through the windows and recognize some former aspect of our lives. Dream of the Divided Field examines a body breaking down and a body that rebuilds in limitless and boundary-shifting ways. These are homes in memory—homes of love and isolation, lust and alienation, tenderness and violence, suffering and wonder.

Author: Lucasta Miller
Read By: Sally Scott

From Lucasta Miller comes a dazzling new look into the short but intense, tragic life and remarkable work of John Keats through the lens of nine of Keats’s best-known poems, excavating how they came to be and what in Keats’s life led to their creation. Miller brilliantly resurrects and brings Keats to life in all his complexity and spirit, living dangerously, disdaining respectability and cultural norms, and embracing subversive politics.

In Zoom Rooms, Mary Jo Salter considers the strangeness of our recent existence, together with the enduring constants in our lives. The title poem, a series of sonnet-sized Zoom meetings, finds humor and pathos in our age of social distancing and technology-induced proximity. In these beautiful new poems, Salter directs us to moments we may otherwise miss, reminding us that alertness is itself a form of gratitude.

D. Nurkse’s immigrant parents met on a boat out of Europe in 1940; he was a child of the generation whose anxieties were forged in the shadow of Hiroshima and the aftermath of WWII. A Country of Strangers is a collection of selected poems over thirty-five years about our politics, our places, and our heart’s hidden stories.

Author: Paul Tran
Read By: Paul Tran

Paul Tran’s debut poetry collection All the Flowers Kneeling investigates intergenerational trauma, sexual violence, and U.S. imperialism in order to radically alter our understanding of freedom, power, and control. Tran’s poems elucidate the processes of reckoning and recovery, enhanced by poetic forms that mirror the nonlinear emotional and psychological experiences of trauma survivors.

Can’t get enough of prose and sonnets? Visit our full collection of poetry and novels in verse on audio.