Example poetry

The 20 best award-winning poetry books to read in 2021


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  • Poetry is an intimate form of writing – but it can sometimes seem inaccessible to some people.
  • Every poetry book on this list has won at least one prestigious award in the last 5 years.
  • These are some of the most beloved poetry books, even by those new to poetry.

Poetry is a distinct form of prose that uses unique styles to express emotions and experiences. But that can seem elusive to some readers, and for those who want to get more into poetry, it can be hard to know where to start.

To help pick out some great poetry collections for beginners, we’ve rounded up those that have won at least one prestigious poetry award and are praised for their universality. Awards include the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the Walt Whitman Prize, and the National Book Prize for Poetry, as well as the Lambda Literary Prize, which honors LGBTQIA+ authors and books, and the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, which highlights highlights the first collection of poetry by outstanding poets.

Each collection of poetry on this list tells an incredible story, with emotions resonating with readers, regardless of their familiarity with poetry.

Top 20 award-winning books of poetry:

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