Poems from the 21st Century

21st century poetry is noted for its fragmented style, use of short sentences, lack of grammatical and syntactical structures, and disinterest in using rhyme schemes. Most 21st century poems are written in free verse. Some of the best-known poets of the century so far are Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney, and Sherman Alexie.

The Lyric in a Time of War by Eloise Klein Healy

‘The Lyric in a Time of War’ by Eloise Klein Healy is a poem about war, writing, and artistic cconnection throughout time. The poem is dedicated to how writing can create a connection between two people over time and space. 

The Lyric in a Time of War by Eloise Klein Healy Visual Representation

Abuelito Who by Sandra Cisneros

‘Abuelito Who’ by Sandra Cisneros is a powerful poem about the importance of family. The poem conveys the ways that illness and change within the family dynamic can have on a child.

Abuelito Who by Sandra Cisneros Visual Representation

Immigrant Blues by Li-Young Lee

How does it feel when the body and the soul are not in conjunction? Read Li-Young Lee’s meditative piece ‘Immigrant Blues’ to understand what it really feels like.

Immigrant Blues by Li-Young Lee Visual Representation

Snowflake by William Baer

‘Snowflake,’ a sonnet by William Baer, beautifully captures the journey of a flake of snow from being a vapor to landing on a girl’s “unkissed lips.”

Snowflake by William Baer Visual Representation

Home by Warsan Shire

The lines “no one leaves home unless/ home is the mouth of a shark” that made us rethink the global refugee crisis, appear in Somali-British poet Warsan Shire’s poem ‘Home.’ This poem vividly depicts the lived experiences of the refugees both inside and outside of their countries.

Home by Warsan Shire Visual Representation

The Gift by Li-Young Lee

‘The Gift’ by Li-Young Lee is an effective contemporary poem about the way a father’s voice and attitude influenced his son. 

The Gift by Li-Young Lee Visual Representation

Love is… by Adrian Henri

‘Love is…’ by Adrian Henri provides readers with various ways to consider love and how it tints even the smallest objects and experiences with more meaning.

Love is... by Adrian Henri Visual Representation

Fragment by Angelina Weld Grimké

‘Fragment’ by Angelina Weld Grimké is a short and powerful poem in which a woman discusses, in simple terms, who she is and how she toils on a day-to-day basis.

Fragment by Angelina Weld Grimké Visual Representation

DIVORCE by Kanye West

‘DIVORCE’ by Kanye West was written in order to reflect the writer’s experiences during his divorce from Kim Kardashian.

DIVORCE by Kanye West Visual Representation

DEAD by Kanye West

‘DEAD’ by Kanye West addresses feelings of alienation and isolation. Specifically, those surrounding the writer’s relationship with his now ex-wife, Kim Kardashian.

DEAD by Kanye West Visual Representation

The Night After You Lose Your Job by Debora Kuan

‘The Night After You Lose Your Job’ by Debora Kuan is a highly relatable poem that takes place in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and features a mother struggling to make ends meet.

The Night After You Lose Your Job by Debora Kuan Visual Representation

The View From Halfway Down (Bojack Horseman)

‘The View From Halfway Down’ is a short poem included in an episode of Bojack Horseman. It provides readers with a unique insight into the mind of someone who is moments from his death and experiences an intense regret for his choice to end his life.

The View from Halfway Down Visual Representation

An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo

‘An American Sunrise’ by Joy Harjo is a powerful poem about Native American culture written by the current Poet Laureate of the United States. The poem explores the struggles of the poet’s community as well as the successes and celebrations. 

An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo Visual Representation

The Heart Block Poem

‘The Heart Block Poem’ is a short, four-line poem that was written in order to help medical students and medical professionals remember the degrees of heart blocks.

The Heart Block Poem Visual Representation

The Broken Chain by Ron Tranmer

‘The Broken Chain’ by Ron Tranmer explores the feelings of grief that a family suffers when one of their much-loved members passed away. The poet uses the metaphor of a broken chain to describe their loss.

The Broken Chain by Ron Tranmer Visual Representation

Waiting at the Door (Dog Poem)

‘Waiting at the Door’ is a poem told from the perspective of a loving dog addressing its still living owner. The dog reassures the owner that they will be together again in the future. 

Waiting at the Door Visual Representation

Never Trust a Mirror by Erin Hanson

‘Never Trust a Mirror’ by Erin Hanson is a poem about beauty and self-worth. The poet describes the untrustworthy nature of a mirror and how one shouldn’t take what they see in it for granted. 

Never Trust a Mirror by Erin Hanson Visual Representation

New Day’s Lyric by Amanda Gorman

‘New Day’s Lyric’ by Amanda Gorman is poem written at the end of 2021 in order to usher in a more hopeful new year in 2022. The piece explores themes of hope and change. 

New Day’s Lyric by Amanda Gorman Visual Representation

The Pride of Lions by Joanna Preston

‘The Pride of Lions’ by Joanna Preston describes what happens after a speaker’s husband is transformed into a lion. It presents a message about what relationships require in order to be successful.

The Pride of Lions by Joanna Preston Visual Representation

Alarum by Amanda Gorman

‘Alarum’ by Amanda Gorman speaks about extinction and the climate crisis, alluding to the fate of humankind if nothing changes. 

Alarum by Amanda Gorman Visual Representation

Rosa Parks by Nikki Giovanni

‘Rosa Parks’ by Nikki Giovanni is a poem about activism and the importance of remembering important moments in African American history. The poem pays tribute to the heroic actions of the Pullman Porters who spearheaded the civil rights movement and forever changed history for the African American community.

Rosa Parks by Nikki Giovanni Visual Representation

The Heart by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Jill Alexander Essbaum’s ‘The Heart’ is a short poem that dictates the intricacies of dealing with heartfelt emotions. It describes the human heart as a room with four chambers and thousands of doors.

The Heart by Jill Alexander Essbaum Visual Representation

A Small Needful Fact by Ross Gay

‘A Small Needful Fact’ by Ross Gay is a powerful poem that presents an image of hope and beauty after a loss. The poem addresses the legacy of Eric Garner and how one might still find his presence in the world. 

A Small Needful Fact by Ross Gay Visual Representation

Sine Qua Non by A.E. Stallings

‘Sine Qua Non’ by A.E. Stallings is a thoughtful depiction of what “absence” and “nothing” feel like. The poem is specifically concerned with one speaker’s father. 

Sine Qua Non by A.E. Stallings Visual Representation

School’s Out by Amanda Gorman

‘School’s Out’ by Amanda Gorman is a powerful poem that explores the experiences of young people during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

School’s Out by Amanda Gorman Visual Representation

Memorial by Amanda Gorman

‘Memorial’ by Amanda Gorman is a poem about the past and how poets are able to use their writing to help readers relive it.

Memorial by Amanda Gorman Visual Representation

i am water by Rupi Kaur

‘i am water’ by Rupi Kaur is a thoughtful poem that uses water as a metaphor. The speaker sees their soft and tough qualities. 

i am water by Rupi Kaur Visual Representation

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