For National Poetry Day 2020, we asked Ruby, our Warwickshire Libraries Young Poet Laureate to share her poetry recommendations. It can be tough to pick just a few when there are so many great poets out there so Ruby has gathered together a list of her favourite poetry anthologies. These bring together poets, both contemporary and from the past and if you decide to borrow any of those featured, you’re in for a treat. You may find old favourites or discover new works that might inspire and entertain you.


Ruby’s Recommendations

“Poetry by Heart: A Treasury of Poems to Read Aloud” (physical copies)

Earlier this year, I reached the National Final of the ‘Poetry By Heart‘ competition. Students from across the country compete within schools, at county contests, regional semi-finals and then the national finals in an amazing celebration of poetry and performance. This incredible anthology is based on the competition, and every poem has been selected to be read aloud.

It’s a great read for someone with a passion for reciting poetry or anyone who wants to expand their horizons with over 200 poems – some written 1,000 years ago, some written in the present day.

“The Emergency Poet: An Anti-Stress Poetry Anthology” – curated by Deborah Alma (physical copies)

With chapters such as “Carpe Diem”, “Hope”, “Talking to grief” and “Tonics to lift the spirits”, this is an amazing, therapeutic anthology to flick through and find a poem that really understands what you’re going through. It always cheers me up and it’s becoming a very popular gift to give to people.

“Poems To Live Your Life By” (physical copies, eAudio) and “Poems To Fall In Love With” (physical copies, eAudio) – chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell

These are two really beautiful collections of poems with enchanting artwork that’s as stunning as the brilliant poems. With classics from the likes of Byron and Keats, extracts from Shakespeare plays, song lyrics by Phoebe Bridgers and contemporary poets such as Kae Tempest, both anthologies provide familiar works as well as much newer ones and make for a really incredible and exciting read. Both can be found on BorrowBox to listen to, and my personal favourites can be found in “Poems To Live Your Life By” – the magnificent and sprawling illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky’ and the different images charting the train journey of Phillip Larkin’s ‘The Whitsun Weddings’.

“Tell Me the Truth About Life: A National Poetry Day Anthology” – curated by Cerys Matthews (physical copies)

This anthology of “100 poems that matter” is exactly that – it’s powerful, thought-provoking and passionate about poetry. It was published for last year’s 25th anniversary of National Poetry Day and features poems nominated and introduced by a wide range of people from astronauts, footballers, teachers, booksellers and many more. This makes the whole anthology feel very warm and inviting – it’s a group of people sharing their love for different poems with you and exploring what each work has meant to them. It really proves that poetry is for everyone and I think it’s a great anthology to read when thinking about National Poetry Day.

“She is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women” curated by Ann Sampson

I only discovered this anthology recently, but I already love it! The collection of 150 poems – from Sappho to Nikita Gill – are bold and rebellious as well as tender and beautiful. My favourite (so far) has to be ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by Maya Angelou, which is unsurprisingly printed on the back of the book itself. It feels like a powerful mantra to live by, and this book is definitely something I will share with friends.


You’ll find lots of poetry books, including most of those featured above, on our catalogue and some on BorrowBox – we’ve included links to those you can request to borrow and we hope you enjoy them!

If you ‘re after more suggestions, why not have a quick read of our earlier blog of poetry recommendations or visit the National Poetry Day website for even more poetry content?

Happy National Poetry Day 2020!