Poetry Recommendations from Our Staff!

Since April is National Poetry Month, we asked our librarians and staff members to share their favorite poems and poets. Stop by your local library to discover (or rediscover) these fantastic purveyors of verse!

“My favorite poet is Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and her poem that I like the most is 'You Men (Hombres Necios Que Acusais).' I admire Sor Juana because she was a rebel with a cause. At a time when women had no voice or vote, she preferred to become a nun rather than marry and be subjugated to a husband. She also cut her hair to pass as a man to go to university.”—Raynelda A. Calderon, General Librarian, Langston Hughes Community Library


Rabindranath Tagore: An Anthology

Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali poet, short-story writer, composer, playwright, essayist, and painter who introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit. He was highly influential in introducing Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and in 1913 he became the first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Here at Central Library we have a unique collection of Tagore's books written in world languages, including his native Bengali.”—Linda Chakmak, International Languages Librarian, Central Library


“My favorite poem is 'Invictus' by William Ernest Henley. Whenever I need a boost, I think of 'Invictus' and it reminds me of how strong I am. I have such an affinity for this poem; the title alone means 'unconquerable,' or 'undefeated.' I think that is a good way to go through life, knowing that you may have some bad times, but through it all, you won't be defeated.”—Victoria Kowanetz, Children's Librarian, Seaside Library


Transformations by Anne Sexton

"My poetry recommendations include Transformations by Anne Sexton, a collection that takes traditional fairy tales that we all know, but then twists the stories around to take a feminist perspective. In doing so, each story feels more shocking and relevant to today's culture. Another is Date & Time by Phil Kaye. Kaye takes the stories of his life, both present and past, and weaves them into a wonderful collection about growing up, what ties us to our family's heritage, and how we grow as individuals. Besides his written words, I would also highly recommend checking out Phil Kaye's spoken-word videos on YouTube.”—Jo-Ann Wong, General Librarian, Floating Team


“I have two poets that I really like and never get tired of: William Carlos Williams and ee cummings. What appeals to me is the altered perspective that their poems evoke and call forth, like in Williams’s 'Flowers by the Sea,' for example. The ocean, that seems so massive and immovable, sways at the top of the flower stems. Isn't that one of the powers of writing and words?”—Amy Willis, Customer Service Supervisor, Elmhurst Library


Celebrity Sadhana, Or How to Meditate With a Hammer

"Celebrity Sadhana, Or How to Meditate With a Hammer was a joy for me to write and to read at various venues as it combines the meditative with a wicked sense of humor that I get a kick out of each time I read it aloud to audiences. The best kind of poetry, in my mind, is the kind of poetry that's fun and engaging for both reader and writer alike. I hope you will enjoy reading this work that was sponsored by the Queens Council on the Arts as part of their New Work Grant."—Vijay Ramanathan, Assistant Community Library Manager, Forest Hills Library


"I would like to recommend two poems by the Puerto Rican poet, actor, and screenwriter Jacobo Morales. 'A Mil' is a poem about the unfortunate lifestyle we all live today...time-managed to the point that even in death we are still trying to micro-manage our own death! 'Ser Jíbaro Es Un Honor' is about the 'country bumpkins' that, no matter what country or nationality, everyone makes fun of. In Puerto Rico, we call them the jíbaro. In this poem, Morales refers to the countryside people who farm the land in a traditional way, but the jíbaro is a subsistence farmer, and the iconic reflection of the Puerto Rican. Morales points out how both white-collar and blue-collar Puerto Ricans are now identifying themselves as jíbaros, in proud connection with their history, culture, and dignity.”—Roberto Segura, Assistant Library Custodian, Community Library Services

Thank you to our staff members for these great recommendations—and here are even more poetry picks!