YA Poetry That Will Rock Your World

Great poetry is life wrapped inside golden nuggets of literary wisdom. It can paint worlds and explain universals in succinct sentences. It is language pared down into nuts and bolts and a great poem can stay with you forever. Maybe it rhymes, has standard lines; here is my YA list of poetry and verse that shine. Happy National Poetry Month!

Beauty mark : a verse novel of Marilyn Monroe

Carole Boston Weatherford

Young Adult

From the day she was born as Norma Jeane Mortenson, to her reigning days as a Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe lived a life that was often defined by others. This verse novel revisits Marilyn's often traumatic early life of foster homes, loneliness, sexual abuse, teen marriage, and follows her into a hard-won, meteoric rise to stardom that brought with it exploitation, pill dependency, and depression. In covering moments of extraordinary pain and moments of unexpected grace, gumption, and perseverance, we learn the inexorable power of pursuing one's dreams. -- adapted from jacket

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A gripping account of a Hollywood icon. You may never see Marilyn Monroe the same way again!
- Victoria

Punching the air

Ibi Aanu Zoboi


From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. The story that I thought was my life didn't start on the day I was born. Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he's seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. "Boys just being boys" turns out to be true only when those boys are white. The story that I think will be my life starts today. Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal's bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn't commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it' With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.

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This book has been on my list before- because it's so good! Written in verse, this book has lines I would read and re-read. It stayed with me long after I'd finished. A great book for fans of Jason Reynolds and Elizabeth Acevedo.
- Victoria

Apple : skin to the core : a memoir in words and pictures

Eric L. Gansworth

BIOGRAPHY Gansworth, Eric L.
Read Woke, Memoir

"The term "Apple" is a slur in Native communities across the country. It's for someone supposedly "red on the outside, white on the inside." Eric Gansworth is telling his story in Apple (Skin to the Core). The story of his family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds. Eric shatters that slur and reclaims it in verse and prose and imagery that truly lives up to the word heartbreaking." -- Inside front jacket flap.

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A heartbreaking, poignant, and fascinating look into the world of Eric Gansworth, an Onondaga and his Native American experiences in the United States..
- Victoria

Somebody give this heart a pen

Sophia Thakur

Black History, Young Adult

"In her publishing debut, internationally acclaimed performance poet Sophia Thakur takes you on an intimate journey through love, loss, sacrifice, and self-discovery. In four parts -- titled Grow, Wait, Break, and Grow Again -- she shares her raw self and gives voice to experiences that connect people, inspiring readers to explore the tendencies of the heart." -- Provided by publisher.

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Sophia is raw, honest and someone who who built herself up brick by brick to become an indomitable force. Somebody give that heart all the pens she needs! If you don't know her, you need to check her out!
- Victoria

Blood moon

Lucy Cuthew

Young Adult

"After school one day, Frankie, a lover of physics and astronomy, has her first sexual experience with quiet and gorgeous Benjamin - and gets her period. It's only blood, they agree. But soon a gruesome meme goes viral, turning an intimate, affectionate afternoon into something sordid, mortifying, and damaging. In the time it takes to swipe a screen, Frankie's universe implodes. Who can she trust? Not Harriet, her suddenly cruel best friend, and certainly not Benjamin, the only one who knows about the incident. As the online shaming takes on a horrifying life of its own, Frankie begins to wonder: is her real life over?" --Amazon.

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A formidable feminist find in verse (that's called alliteration!).
- Victoria

Milk and honey

Rupi Kaur

811.6 /Kaur

The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.-Amazon review

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An outpouring of heart and soul with pretty pictures sprinkled throughout make this book a little treasure.
- Victoria

Look, black boy

Caleb Rainey

811.6 /Rainey
Black Lives Matter, Read Woke, Black History

"In his debut poem collection Caleb 'The Negro Artist' Rainey explores racial tensions in America from the perspective of a young Black male."--

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Caleb Rainey is a local poet and founder of IC Speaks, a poetry group for high schoolers. This book will have you nodding, snapping and clapping line after line. His verse is raw, honest and spot on. Go see him live if you get the chance!
- Victoria

The poet X

Elizabeth Acevedo

YOUNG ADULT FICTION Acevedo, Elizabeth
Read Woke

Harlem. Ever since her body grew into curves, Xiomara Batista has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. She pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers-- especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. Mami is determined to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, and Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. When she is invited to join her school's slam poetry club, she can't stop thinking about performing her poems.

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Xiomara feels powerful when she writes poetry and the reader is transported into her world through Acevedo's beautiful storytelling ability.
- Victoria

The black flamingo

Dean Atta

LGBTQ+, Read Woke

"Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he's navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican--but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough. As he gets older, Michael's coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs--and the Black Flamingo is born. Told with raw honesty, insight, and lyricism, this debut explores the layers of identity that make us who we are--and allow us to shine"--FantasticFiction.com.

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I imagine the Black Flamingo as the colorful child all grown up from Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love. This book will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions.
- Victoria