Books for Mature Teens and Adults

Theme: Poetry

A Poetry Handbook - (ISBN: 978-0156724005)

by Mary Oliver

In this short volume, Mary Oliver -- herself a poet -- takes the reader by the hand through the sometimes confusing world of poetry. She explains how sound, tone, forms, and figures of speech go together to create a work of art. For aspiring poets and also those who want to read poetry more successfully, this book is a gem!

Morning Haiku - (ISBN: 978-0807001318)

by Sonia Sanchez

Award-winning poet Sonia Sanchez has changed the intent of the haiku form by using it to enfold her agonies about African American life and her pride in herself as an African American woman and a writer. Deceptively simple, these haikus tell of her outrage against wrongs perpetrated on her people, her sense of the passionate in life, and her lyrical skills.

Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966 – 1996 - (ISBN: 978-0374526788)

by Seamus Heaney

The metaphysical and mythical poems of this great Irish poet earned the him Pulitzer Prize in 1995. He concisely melds history and legend, poems and form, passion and family. Read one or two of these at a time, and read them over and over.

The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets - (ISBN: 978-0803259782)

by Ted Kooser

With a down-to-earth approach, former poet laureate Ted Kooser begins a series of essays by drawing on his own life experience as an insurance executive. His advice: do not expect to make a living as a poet! Using many famous works, he explains the mechanics and art of writing poetry. He reminds writers to think of their audience as they write, to use appropriate timing, and to rewrite and rewrite.

The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems - (ISBN: 978-0375755217)

by Billy Collins

Highly accessible, these poems by a modest former poet laureate of the United States, describe every day life with simplicity and humor. Collins finds meaning in the mundane and symbols in his descriptions of household items, nature, and animals. If you have the opportunity to hear Collins in person or in recorded book form, you will hear the great humor in his work even more clearly.

Great Short Poems - (ISBN: 978-0486411057)

by Paul Negri, editor

Poem Crazy: Freeing Your Life with Words - (ISBN: 978-0609800980)

by Susan Wooldridge

Swan: Poems and Prose Poems - (ISBN: 978-0807068991)

by Mary Oliver

The Poet’s Corner: The One-and-Only Poetry Book for the Whole Family - (ISBN: 978-0446580021)

by John Lithgow, editor

Activities for this Theme

Read about how a poem was used at JFK’s inauguration


Write a simple poem and put it into the white box to create a beautiful word cloud


Make some virtual “magnetic poetry”


Attend a free local poetry reading with friends and/or family. Start by asking at a local bookstore.


Memorize a poem you love and recite it for a special occasion gift to someone important to you.