12 Female Poets to Read for National Poetry Month

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? I’ve loved reading and writing poetry for as long as I can remember. I was always that kid in English class that was secretly thrilled when we reached the poetry unit, as I listened to all of my classmates groan and complain the entire time.

I love poetry because it’s pure emotion. It’s all about breaking the rules of English in ways that longer prose pieces are not often afforded. So since it’s April, even though it’s nearly over, I thought I’d share some of my favorite female poets for your listening and reading pleasure.

Blythe Baird

Blythe has tons of amazing feminist poems on Youtube, and Girl Code 101 is one of my favorites. Her book Give Me a God I Can Relate To is available on Amazon now.

Favorite quote:

“Once, my friend and I got catcalled on Michigan Avenue, and she said “Fuck you” while I said “Thank you” like I was trained to. I wonder if those men have daughters.”

Clementine Von Radics

I love Clementine’s poetry so much, I can’t even begin to explain. I found her on tumblr ages ago, and I just love everything she writes. Yet somehow I don’t have her books yet? This needs to be remedied with my next Netflix order. She has several books out now, and her newest one, For Teenage Girls with Wild Ambitions and Trembling Hearts came out last year.

Favorite quote:

“There will always be those who say you’re too young or too delicate to make anything happen for yourself, but they don’t see the part of you that smolders. Don’t let their doubting drown out the sound of your own heartbeat. You’re the first drop of rain in a hurricane. Your bravery builds beyond you.”

Rupi Kaur

I’ve talked about Rupi Kaur so much lately, I’m sure you must be sick of it, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t add her to this list. Milk and Honey has basically taken the world (or at least the internet) by storm, and I recommend it to absolutely everyone with a pulse, especially those who identify as female.

Favorite quote:

“I am water. Soft enough to offer life, tough enough to drown it away.”

Amanda Lovelace

I’ve had Amanda Lovelace’s first book, The Princess Saves Herself in This One, on my list for a long time, and I finally just got it last week. I devoured it in about 45 minutes, and was so enchanted with it. Even the dedication made me cry.

Favorite quote:

“raid your library. read everything you can get your hands on & then some. go on, collect words & polish them up until they shine like starlight in your palm. make words your finest weapons— a gold-hilted sword to cut your enemies down. – a survival plan of sorts.”

Sierra DeMulder

Sierra is another popular Youtube poet who has written some incredibly beautiful things about feminism, womanhood and being a survivor in multiple senses of the word.

Favorite quote:

“Dear you: the word ‘today’ means ‘amen’ in every language. Today we made it.”

Sylvia Plath

I’ve been obsessed with Sylvia Plath since I was about 13 and read The Bell Jar, a fact which undoubtedly concerned my teachers and relatives as Sylvia Plath is not a notoriously great role model for young girls. But her writing has always left me completely breathless, and I’ve read everything I could get my hands on. Seriously, read her diaries sometime. It’s enlightening. I even have first edition copies of Ariel and a few other of her poetry collections.

Favorite quote:

“Out of the ash I rise with my red hair. And I eat men like air.”

Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton got really unfair treatment in my mind because in high school, a teacher that I really disliked suggested I read her poetry, and I very stubbornly vowed to do the exact opposite of that (oh, 15 year old me). I finally gave up my completely ludicrous and totally unfair Anne ban and now I’m in love. Go figure.

Favorite quote:

“I have gone out, a possessed witch, haunting the black air, braver at night; dreaming evil, I have done my hitch over the plain houses, light by light: lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind. A woman like that is not a woman, quite. I have been her kind.

Louise Gluck

I stumbled upon a Louise Gluck poem somewhere on Pinterest or Instagram and have since become obsessed with everything she’s written (what I’ve read of it). She’s regarded as one of the best contemporary poets nowadays, and has several books and anthologies out. She currently teaches at Yale and has won a number of prestigious awards for her writing.

Favorite quote:

“Only (softly, fiercely) the stars shining. Here, in the room, the bedroom. Saying I was brave, I resisted, I set myself on fire.”

Maya Angelou

I don’t think I could say anything that hasn’t already been said about the genius of Maya Angelou. She remains to this a revolutionary.

Favorite quote:

“You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

Olivia Gatwood

I’ve been obsessed with Olivia Gatwood since I heard her poem “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” and she has so so many amazing poems. She has a book out now as well, called New American Best Friend, and I really need to read it ASAP.

Favorite quote:

“Manic Pixie Dream girl says ‘I’m going to save you.’ Says ‘Don’t worry, you are still the lead role. This is your love story about the way I teach you to live.'”

Nayyirah Waheed

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I’ve been seeing her poems everywhere all the sudden, and I’ve been in love with every single one I’ve read. She has two books out, which are now going straight to the top of my wishlist. She writes beautiful pieces about femininity, masculinity, feminism and self-love.

Favorite quote:

“I am mine. Before I am ever anyone else’s.”

Warsan Shire

I feel like, at this point, everyone on the internet has heard “for women who are difficult to love” but it absolutely bears repeating. I love this poem so much, and listening to Warsan narrate it is so soothing and emotional. Plus she was featured on Lemonade with Beyonce so you know she’s incredible.

Favorite quote:

“You are terrifying. And strange. And beautiful. Something not everyone knows how to love.”

Who are your favorite poets?

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