Best Poetry of the Last Year – Ms. Magazine

Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups. The aims of these lists are threefold:

  1. I want to do my part in the disruption of what has been the acceptable “norm” in the book world for far too long—white, cis, heterosexual, male;
  2. I want to amplify indie publishers and amazing works by writers who are women, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, APIA/AAPI, international, queer, trans, nonbinary, disabled, fat, immigrant, Muslim, neurodivergent, sex-positive or of other historically marginalized identities—you know, the rest of us; and
  3. I want to challenge and encourage you all to buy, borrow and read them! 

Happy April, and Happy National Poetry MonthSince my dormant love of poetry was reignited, I’ve found it so refreshing and inspiring to read beautiful collections each year and share them with you.

Below are some of the most exciting and extraordinary I’ve read in the last year. 

In 2021, I tried something a bit different with the poetry list: Instead of the usual blurb, I focused my thoughts about each collection into three words. Readers responded so well to it, I decided to keep doing it. Sometimes the words are nouns, sometimes verbs, sometimes adjectives—and I may have just made up some words too. Since I find it challenging to be succinct, this is a valuable exercise in imagination, reflection and, well, restraint.  

Speaking of restraint … I have to seriously think about which titles to include on this list. Many fantastic collections are being released, but unfortunately, I couldn’t include them all. I’ve included the 78 below 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, they are from debut authors, indie publishers, or because they stood out to me for any other reason. The ones that are currently available are presented first in alphabetical order; forthcoming titles are then listed by on-sale date.

So I hope you enjoy and find some collections below that will have you reflecting on how poetry moves you, challenges you and represents you. 

All We Are Told Not to Touch

By Leticia del Toro. Finishing Line Press. 42 pages. Out now. 

Waves, loss, shine. 


Altar of the Imagination 

By Marisa Urrutia Gedney (@_m_u_g_). Finishing Line Press. 44 pages. Out now. 

Generations, wisdom, liberation.


American Sex Tape

By Jameka Williams (@meka_will_write). University of Wisconsin Press. 88 pages. Out now. 

Unwieldy, unwilling, unruly.


The Animals of My Earth School 

By Mildred Kiconco Barya (@MidiBarya). Terrapin Books. 96 pages. Out now.

Primacy, satiation, paradise.



By Eugenia Leigh (@eugenialeigh). Four Way Books. 124 pages. Out now. 

Noisy, unrelenting, healing.


Bluest Nude: Poems 

By Ama Codjoe. Milkweed Editions. 120 pages. Out now. 

Creation, mo(u)rning, grounding. 


Brown Girl Chromatography: Poems

By Anuradha Bhowmik (@bhowmikky). University of Pittsburgh Press. 80 pages. Out now. 

Aspiration, translation, permutation. 


Cenizas: Poems 

By Cynthia Guardado (@TheGuardedPoet). University of Arizona Press. 80 pages. Out now. 

Descent, grief, portal.


The Certain Body

By Julia Guez (@G_U_E_Z). Four Way Books. 64 pages. Out now. 

Entropy, form, (re)emergence. 


Concentrate: Poems 

By Courtney Faye Taylor (@thecourtcase). Graywolf Press. 96 pages. Out now.

Innocent, forever, Latasha. 


Decade of the Brain: Poems

By Janine Joseph (@ninejoseph). Alice James Books. 100 pages. Out now. 

Lull, impact, reconciliation.


Exiles and Pleasures: Taunggyi Dreaming

By Jaspal Kaur Singh (@jaspaltaunggyi). Finishing Line Press. 124 pages. Out now.

(Inter)connected, (in)visible, (in)divisible. 



By Ina Cariño (@ina_carino). Alice James Books. 100 pages. Out now. 

Body, bloom, ritual. 

Read the complete list at Ms. Magazine...