2021 Poetry for the Rest of Us

The Feminist Know-It-All: You know her. You can’t stand her. Good thing she’s not here! Instead, this column by gender and women’s studies librarian Karla Strand will amplify stories of the creation, access, use and preservation of knowledge by women and girls around the world; share innovative projects and initiatives that focus on information, literacies, libraries and more; and, of course, talk about all of the books.

April is National Poetry Month!

Since my dormant love of poetry was reignited, I’ve found it so refreshing and inspiring to read beautiful collections each year and share my thoughts with you.

Listed below are some of the most exciting and necessary collections published late last year and forthcoming throughout 2021. 

I’m trying something a bit different with this poetry list: Instead of the usual blurb, I am attempting to focus my thoughts about each into three words (okay, or phrases—this is hard!). Sometimes the words are nouns, sometimes verbs, sometimes adjectives, and I may have just made up some words too. Since I can find it challenging to be succinct, this was a valuable exercise in imagination, reflection and, well, restraint. 

Speaking of restraint… I had to seriously think about which titles to include on this list. There are so many fantastic collections being released, but unfortunately I couldn’t include them all and apologies to those I needed to cut. Some titles aren’t included because they are so obvious! So be sure to read Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country (Viking Book, out now), The Essential Muriel Rukeyser: Poems (Ecco, out June 1), Sonia Sanchez’s Collected Poems (Beacon Press, out now), The Essential June Jordan (Copper Canyon Press, out May 4), How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton (BOA Editions, out now) and the reissue of Morgan Parker’s Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night (Tin House, July 2021). And a shout-out to my friend and colleague, Nina Clements, on the publishing of her first collection out now from Urban Farmhouse Press, Our Mother of Sorrows

I included these 53 for a variety of reasons: because they meet my criteria (above), because they are especially unique, because I wanted to shine a light on them, or because they stood out to me for any other reason.

So I hope you enjoy and find some collections below that will leave you at a loss for words. 

2021 Poetry for the Rest of Us

All the Rage

By Rosamond S. King (@RosamondDrKing). Nightboat Books. 112 pages. Out now.

Identity, perspectives, simultaneity.


By Ghinwa Jawhari (@ggjawhari). Radix Media. 40 pages. Out now.

Girl, embodiment, exploration. 

Black Girl, Call Home 

By Jasmine Mans (@poetjasminemans). Berkley. 256 pages. Out now. 

Pathways, coming of age, queer tenderness.


By Aditi Machado (@aditimachado). Nightboat. 112 pages. Out now. 

Capitalism, interrogation, profundity.

Face Me: A Declaration 

By Olivia Keenan. The Unapologetic Voice House LLC. 134 pages. Out now.

Declarative, celebratory, commanding. 

Glorious Veils of Diane

By Rainie Oet (@rainieoet). Carnegie Mellon University Press. 88 pages. Out now.

Childhood, consciousness, reimagination.

Horsefly Dress: Poems

By Heather Cahoon (Confederated Salish and Kootenai). University of Arizona Press. 88 pages. Out now. 

Suffering, tradition, transformation.

Horsepower: Poems 

By Joy Priest (@Dalai_Mama_). University of Pittsburgh Press. 68 pages. Out now. 

Vivid, intimate, transcendent.

If God Is a Virus

By Seema Yasmin (@DoctorYasmin). Haymarket Books. 80 pages. Out now.

Survival, voice, illumination.

Iron Goddess of Mercy

By Larissa Lai (@haamyue). Arsenal Pulp Press. 176 pages. Out now. 

Complex identities, rage, empowerment.

it was never going to be okay

By jaye simpson (@fka_jayesimpson). Nightwood Editions. 96 pages. Out now.

Sovereignty, vulnerability, honesty. 

The Joy and Terror are Both in the Swallowing

By Christine Shan Shan Hou (@ChristineSHou). After Hours Editions. 92 pages. Out now.  

Desire, ordinariness, enlightenment.

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Last Days

By Tamiko Beyer (@tamikobeyer). Alice James Books. 100 pages. Out now.

Transformation, beauty, environment.

Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance

By Nikki Grimes (@nikkigrimes9). Bloomsbury Children’s Books. 144 pages. Out now.

Golden Shovel poetry, original art, visibility.

nedí nezų (Good Medicine)

By Tenille Campbell (@sweetmoonphoto) (Dene and Métis). Arsenal Pulp Press. 92 pages. Out now.

Jubilation, laughter, decolonized desire.

No Knowledge Is Complete Until It Passes Through My Body

By Asiya Wadud (@asiyawadud). Nightboat Books. 128 pages. Out now. 

Embodiment, continuums, exploration.

Object Permanence: Poems

By Nica Bengzon. Gaudy Boy LLC. 136 pages. Out now. 

Care, dichotomy, healing. 

September Love

By Lang Leav (@langleav). Andrews McMeel Publishing. 224 pages. Out now.

Relationships, secrets, evolution.


By Jody Chan (@jodyr.chan). Black Lawrence Press. 85 pages. Out now.

Queerness, surprising, the calm and the storm. 

Some Girls Walk into the Country They Are From

By Sawako Nakayasu (@sawakonakayasu). Wave Books. 176 pages. Out now. 

Translation, feminism, linguistic resistance. 


By Rebecca Salazar (@leonrxs). McClelland & Stewart. 120pages. Out now.

Kaleidoscopic, ecological, immediate.

The Sunflower Cast a Spell To Save Us From The Void

By Jackie Wang (@loneberrywang). Nightboat Books. 120 pages. Out now. 

Dreamworlds, resistance, renewal.

Take a Stand, Art Against Hate: A Raven Chronicles Anthology

Edited by Anna Bálint, Phoebe Bosché and Thomas Hubbard. Raven Chronicles Press. 368 pages. Out now. 

Art for justice, intersections, humanitarianism.


By Elizabeth Bradfield (@ecbradfield) and Antonia Contro (@ajcontro). Poetry Northwest Editions. 96 pages. Out now.

Space, self-discovery, returning.

This is Not About Love: Poems

By Krystal A. Smith (@AuthorKASmith). BLF Press LLC. 44 pages. Out now.

Longing, learning, self-love. 

A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure

By Hoa Nguyen (@peacehearty). Wave Books. 144 pages. Out now.

Biography, archive, atmosphere.

Tortillera: Poems 

by Caridad Moro-Gronlier. Texas Review Press. 118 pages. Out now.

Lesbian, Cuban, deliciously shameless.


By Hafizah Geter (@RhetoricAndThis). Wesleyan University Press. 104 pages. Out now.

Ancestry, migration, power.


By Nikki Wallschlaeger (@nikkimwalls). Copper Canyon Press. 96 pages. Out now.

Grief, fluidity, connection. 

We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics

Edited by Andrea Abi-Karam (@wolf_hour) and Kay Gabriel (@unit01barbie). Nightboat Books. 296 pages. Out now. 

Groundbreaking, urgent, liberating. 

What Happens Is Neither

By Angela Narciso Torres. Four Way Books. 110 pages. Out now.

Loss, meditation, memory.

Who’s Your Daddy 

By Arisa White (@arisaw). Augury Books. 138 pages. Out now. 

Absence, autonomy, reimagination.

Women in the Waiting Room

By Kirun Kapur (@kirunkapur). Black Lawrence Press. 85 pages. Out now.

Daring, voice-full, consoling. 

Wound From the Mouth of a Wound

By torrin a. greathouse (@tagreathouse). Milkweed Editions. 88 pages. Out now.

Demanding, supple, vast.

You Don’t Have to Be Everything: Poems for Girls Becoming Themselves

By Diana Whitney (@dianawhitney31). Workman Publishing Company. 176 pages. Out now.

Self-acceptance, bravery, celebration.

You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love

By Yona Harvey (@yonaharvey). Four Way Books. 88 pages. Out now.

Cultivation, collective, consciousness. [Hat tip to Publisher’s Weekly for their help on this one!]


By Divya Victor (@sugaronthegash). Nightboat Books. 128 pages. Out April 20. 

Navigation, possibility, thriving.

Tributary: Poems

By Carey Salerno (@careylinnae). Persea. Out April 20.

Family, faith, unfettered.

Water I Won’t Touch

By Kayleb Rae Candrilli. Copper Canyon Press. 96 pages. Out April 20.

Healing, wholeness, future.

The Life

By Carrie Fountain (@carrie.fountain). Penguin Books. 112 pages. Out April 27.

Fleeting, wondrous, clear.

Imagine Us, The Swarm

By Muriel Leung (@murmurshewrote). Nightboat Books. 112 pages.Out May 4.

Space, form, forgiveness.

Living Nations, Living Words: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry

Collected by Joy Harjo (Muscogee (Creek)). W. W. Norton & Company. 240 pages. Out May 4.

Place, heritage, life.

The Renunciations: Poems

By Donika Kelly (@officialdonika). Graywolf Press. 72 pages. Out May 4.

Trauma, power, joy.

Permanent Volta 

By Rosie Stockton. Nightboat Books. 120 pages. Out May 11.

Queerotic, cheeky, extra.


By Miranda Mellis. Solid Objects. 128 pages. Out June 1.

Expansion, perspective, wisdom.

Field Study

By Chet’la Sebree (@nahtil). FSG Originals. 176 pages. Out June 1.

Vulnerability, exploration, discovery.


By Kathleen Ossip (@kathleenossip). Sarabande Books. 120 pages. Out June 1.

Movement, attention, intimacy.

The Collection Plate: Poems

By Kendra Allen (@kendracanyou). Ecco. 96 pages. Out July 6.

Erasure, voice, endless possibility.

Perfect Black

By Crystal Wilkinson (@CrystalWilki). University Press of Kentucky. 112 pages. Out August 3.

Evocative, elegant, cathartic.

No Ruined Stone

By Shara McCallum. Alice James Books. 100 pages. Out August 10. 

Mythology, exodus, reclamation.

Dear Diaspora

By Susan Nguyen (@suz_poet). University of Nebraska Press. 84 pages. Out September 1.

Migratory, devastating, unyielding.


By Achy Obejas (@achylandia). Beacon Press. 160 pages. Out September 7.

Activism, bilingualism, belonging.

I Remember Death By Its Proximity to What I Love

By Mahogany L. Browne. Haymarket Books. 100 pages. Out September 14.

Incarceration, injustice, indignation.


Karla J. Strand is the gender and women’s studies librarian for the University of Wisconsin. She completed her doctorate in information science via University of Pretoria in South Africa with a background in history and library science, and her research centers on the role of libraries and knowledge in empowering women and girls worldwide. Tweet her @karlajstrand.